Go north, young man.
That might be the advice of Horace Greeley, were he living in New Orleans today.
The production hubs of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Lafayette all attract their fair share of production, offering alternative facilities and resources to those found in New Orleans and southern Louisiana.
“Maybe they don’t find mountains or beaches in Shreveport, but they do find locations doubling for places as diverse as Kodiak, Alaska, or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or ranging from New York and Paris to the Amazon or the biblical city of Sodom,” says Gregory Kallenberg, founder and executive director of the Louisiana Film Prize, a local film contest that each year awards cash to makers of short films.
Facilities in the region include Millennium Studios, which opened in 2007. It boasts two soundstages of 10,000 square-feet and 15,000 square-feet, full-service prop house and production services. Turnkey office space is 11,000 square feet.
“(Filmmaking) is extremely collaborative,” says Millennium president Diego Martinez. He points to the studio’s location scouting skills, special effects mill of 33,300 square feet, construction mill of 10,000 square-feet, and wardrobe, prop, and hair/makeup rooms and green rooms.
Another notable facility in northern Louisiana is Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, an animation and interactive shop — and a creative source of films, video games and app development for storytelling across a wide range of platforms.
Moonbot, located in Shreveport’s InterTech Science Park, also provides conceptual design, pre-vis, titles, matte painting and miniatures — not to mention augmented and virtual reality, says Brandon Oldenburg, who launched the company with William Joyce and Lampton Enochs.
Meanwhile, the Digital Media Institute at InterTech in Shreveport is training artists and engineers. “Changes are coming in cognitive content and platforms for delivering interactive content,” says executive director John Miralles. “We are training skilled professionals in animation, visual effects and video-game content.”
The institute does so in an intensive one-year program inside its 1,600-sq.-ft. studio. Tools include a multi-actor motion-capture system paired with 4K digital cinema cameras.
“We stay on top of the ever-evolving technical changes,” Miralles says. “To be good in this realm you need to be a little bit of both artist and technical engineer.”
In Baton Rouge, the state capital, where the film office is known as Film Baton Rouge, attracts filmmakers with such services as assistance with scouting, accommodations and permits. Producers can also avail themselves of its online locations database.
Also in Baton Rouge, Digital FX Inc. boasts the largest post-production facility in the region.
Another Louisiana city, Lafayette, has launched the Lafayette Entertainment Initiative to promote itself as a destination not only for filming but also for other forms of content production.
One of its resources, Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE), is a $27 million high-tech center that uses graphic supercomputers to help clients such as production studios, processing labs and post-production houses visualize volumes of complex data.
On Oct. 17 and 18, Lafayette will host Louisiana Comic Con as a two-day event at its Cajundome Convention Center — finally bringing to Louisiana the same kind of geek gathering that, in San Diego, now attracts all manner of fans, producers, stars, studio execs and the entertainment publicity machine.
Who knows how far down this showbiz road Louisiana will travel.