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/ SALEM On The Set Of

Louisiana oon the big screen 10 Cloverfield Lane I Saw the Light Also Inside

Anthony Mackie Reigns Over New Orleans


Midnight Special

Actor Shane West Director Joe Dante Production Designer John Zachary







VOLUME 13 ISSUE ONE EDITORS-IN-CHIEF W. H. Bourne, Odin Lindblom ASSOCIATE EDITOR Katie Sauro CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Leonardo Barros, Jay Crest, A.K. Farmer, T. Hopper, Susie Labry, Raven Melancon CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Nick Blady, Dylan Bourne, Blane Faul, Joan Gossett, Amy Ransow, James Welch, Black & White GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins SALES Steve Joseph, Larry Hinze PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker DESIGNERS Ciara Pickering, Sam Rockwell, Liz Weickum WEBMASTER Jon Hines OFFICE MANAGER Audra Higgins

L-R Director Dan Trachtenberg discusses a scene with John Goodman for 10 Cloverfield Lane 6

Editor’s Note


On the Road with Midnight Special

17 The Bel of the Ball at Celtic Studios 21 Anthony Mackie: A Homecoming Fit for a King

41 Louisiana Native Shane West Returns Home for Salem 49 Salem: Taking Production Design Back Several Centuries 56 BIC Media’s ‘Rock Bottom & Back’ docu-series underway

23 Using Tax Credits as Part of Your Financial Planning

57 Louisiana’s Own Jarred Coates and Lisa Arnold Create “Films of Inspiration”

26 FBT at Sundance

58 TDJ Enterprises: Building an Entertainment Empire

27 LIFF Parties at Sundance

59 Demystifying the Christian Audience: An Interview with Dr. Larry Poland

28 LIFF Film Schedule 31 10 Cloverfield Lane: A Win for John Goodman 32 Zoom Sounds Great at NAMM

63 Victoria Greene’s Monster in the Bayou Wins Big at WIFTI

33 AVID Provides Collaboration to Users at NAMM

65 On the Prowl and On the Set: Advice on Working with Animals

35 Panavision and Light Iron Roll Out the Red Carpet

67 Louisiana at SXSW

39 In the Shadow of a Legend: Salem Director Joe Dante

68 I Saw the Light Hits Theaters

ON THE COVER: Baton Rouge native, actor Shane West (John Alden) headlines the Grand Cane/Shreveport based production of Salem




LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO PUBLICATIONS A DIVISION OF MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP (800) 332-1736 Display Advertising: Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Subscriptions, call (800) 332-1736 for information and rates. Copyright ©2016 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be used for solicitation or copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Charlie Nauman, 2nd Salem’s UPM Sarah Shreveport native Ryan AC for A Camera, lives Donohue, our wonderful Taylor: assistant to Producers in New Orleans. tour guide. Judd Rea & Carrie Tyson.


or the past two years, Arlena Acree and Pamela Glorioso, the film commissioners from the Louisiana cities of Shreveport and Bossier (respectively), have been telling Odin and I about the wonderful work the TV show Salem was doing down in Grand Cane. In February, Fox provided us with the opportunity to do a set visit and see first hand the incredible artistry both behind and in front of the camera.

We drove from New Orleans which took about 5 hours straight to the set at Grand Cane. UPM Sarah Donohue was initially our tour guide to the vast compound. There was so much to see and to do that we were grateful that we had a 2nd day on set. We drove from Grand Cane to Shreveport (which is about 25 minutes away) to spend the night. Ultris Island Park Apartment Homes which provides short term and long term housing for the industry put us up in a swanky one

bedroom apartment. Debbie Hilton and our staff surely made us feel at home by stocking our pantry with snacks which were quickly and graciously devoured after a long day on set. On our 2nd day, we observed again watching so many talented people behind the camera including legendary director Joe Dante, DP Mark Vargo ASC, production designer John Zachary, and Ed Lipscomb with locations. In front of the camera we saw great performances from both background and lead actors including Janet Montgomery, Seth Gabel, Elise Eberle, and Shane West. We interviewed some of the aforementioned talent for this issue and plan to talk to more before Season 3 premieres. From great craft services to hardworking grips and gaffers, Salem is truly a labor of love for so many locals working in the industry there. It’s also a great example of the Louisiana tax credits at work. I met an assistant to one of the producers named Ryan Taylor who is a native from Shreveport. She was in Italy studying to be a tour guide when a friend told her about the blossoming film industry several years back. She decided to take a chance and move back to Shreveport. She’s been happily employed since then and has worked her way up to her current position. On a different note, Louisiana Film & Video Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor for the Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) in Baton Rouge this April; look for Odin and I there and be sure to say hello. Enjoy! W. H. BOURNE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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Director JEFF NICHOLS on the set of sci-fi thriller MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Faliro House Productions, released by Warner Bros. Pictures. STORY BY RAVEN MELANCON PHOTOS BY BEN ROTHSTEIN COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC


wanted to make a chase movie, a movie about guys moving on back roads through the American South in a fast car, driving at night with their lights off,” director Jeff Nichols begins. “They’re on the run, they’re being hunted and, at the same time, they’re racing towards something important, though we don’t immediately know what it is.”

Midnight Special is Nichols’ fourth film. Structured as a fast-moving thriller with supernatural overtones, it is a provocative, genre-defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human. It follows a father, Roy (Michael Shannon), who goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a boy with mysterious powers that even Roy himself cannot comprehend. What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Risking everything, Roy is committed to helping Alton reach his ultimate purpose, whatever that might be and whatever it costs, in a story that takes audiences on a perilous journey from Texas to the Florida coast, while exploring the bonds of love and trust, and the nature of faith.

At its heart, Midnight Special is about the love and trust between a parent and child. In that respect, it’s indicative of Nichols’ critically acclaimed body of work, from his auspicious debut with Shotgun Stories to Mud to Take Shelter, which swept the Cannes Film Festival. Each has explored, in its own way, the transcendent and universal theme of family bonds. Midnight Special follows Roy, Alton, Roy’s friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and Alton’s mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) as they travel from New Mexico through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Portions of the film were shot in almost all of these places, but the majority of footage was captured in and around New Orleans including the North Shore communities of Mandeville, Covington and Lacombe during the winter of 2014. Throughout principal photography, New Orleans and much of the South was gripped by record-breaking low temperatures. With a narrative heavy on road work and exterior locations, the shooting schedule was constantly being revised for rain and freezing temps. Location manager Mark Welch estimates Nichols and his team scouted close to 60 different stretches of road. They used at least six highways in and around southern Louisiana as well as deserted roads, logging roads, two-lane country roads and portions of interstates. Helicopters were used for aerial views of the action and onscreen as part of the police and military pursuit. Traffic control was an ongoing logistical challenge often forcing production to shoot in three or five minute intervals. For one scene involving a police barricade and SWAT confrontation, a section of highway ISSUE ONE 2016



JAEDEN LIEBERHER as Alton in director Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi thriller MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.

was briefly closed while in other instances the crew employed a “rolling roadblock,” allowing vehicles to pass or follow 40 yards behind the process trailer and camera cars. In some cases, production laid their own track, so to speak. “We’ll take a right turn, cut, and then we’re actually 80 miles away from where we shot the last few feet but it’s another dirt road that’s a match,” says Welch, who was one of three location managers. “We shot a lot on the North Shore. On the North Shore of Lake Pont chartrain, there are hardwoods and pines, and on the South are mostly oaks. We had to match the pines up to Florida so sometimes when they’re supposed to be going through, say, Mississippi, we were on the North Shore trying to match the vegetation.” Nichols sought a natural look, “from the wardrobe and set dressing, to the lighting and locations, to the way Alton’s powers emerge,” he says. Toward that end, he opted for film, not only for its realistic quality but also to challenge himself as a filmmaker. “The reason you shoot on film is because it’s the most organic representation of life…when it’s daytime,” Nichols notes. “In daytime, nothing beats it. It lives and breathes and feels honest. The problem is, at night, this medium that allows such natural images completely changes because now you have to light it and it becomes artificial. If you roll a camera at night without lights, it’s just black; it can’t see like our eyes see. So I purposefully wrote a night-based story, knowing we would shoot on film, and knowing we would have to master how to light a film at night and make it look real.” “Luckily, I had one of the most amazing cinematographers and gaffers in the world working with me on this,” Nichols continues.



“Adam Stone has been on all of my films, and we’ve kind of grown and come into our own together. It’s a relationship that only time and work can create. He’s just flat-out talented. He has an eye. I never knew what that meant before getting into this business, but the way he shoots things…they just look better.” The special effects for Alton’s extra-sensory abilities required further manipulation of light. Says Nichols, “We went to great lengths to create the beam from the boy’s eyes. We shot anamorphic—which is the lens aspect ratio—using a very specific lens built by Panavision that gives off natural flares if you point light right down the middle.” Together with special effects coordinator John McLeod, they designed and built so-called goggle rigs for the eye-gear Alton wears to protect himself and others from his intense white-light energy. Nichols explains, “We built glasses with high-powered LEDs in the lenses so that whenever his eyes light up we had this rig aiming very bright light down the barrel of the camera lens. In instances where he had to light the entire frame, we couldn’t have the goggle rig on him because the idea was that this only happened when his eyes were exposed, so we’d shoot that twice: once with the rig and once without it.” Light was woven throughout the film in myriad ways and became part of its aesthetic, whether from Alton’s eyes or from bursts of headlights, flashlights, and street lamps. Following the mandate for realism, the shoot leaned heavily toward practical locations. For the Third Heaven Ranch, the director envisioned a vast, open, arid landscape so its exteriors were filmed in Mountainair, New Mexico, while interiors were found at a Christian camp outside of Folsom, Louisiana. The Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna, Louisiana, served for an FBI interrogation scene as did the Stennis County Airport at MacDill Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. A truck stop in Reserve, Louisiana, became the site of a mysterious satellite crash. Since the location was a working truck stop containing flammable petrochemicals, the FX department used a light box and squibs to simulate a propane explosion and falling debris. For the motel scenes, Nichols wanted structures close to the highway so he could get the actors as a group leaving the room, heading for their car and taking off, all in one shot—a seemingly simple request that proved difficult to fulfill. A location scout of




Director JEFF NICHOLS shot on film for MIDNIGHT SPECIAL.

more than 100 possibilities finally pinpointed two motels that fit the bill. The Deluxe Inn in Slidell, Louisiana, is where cultists Doak and Levi catch up with the fugitives and where the ensuing gunfight and race across a busy intersection at rush hour had to be supervised by local law enforcement. Mississippi’s Fernwood Motel provided another stop along the way with the advantage of it being shut down; the production designer Chad Keith was able to borrow its furnishings to dress the two motel room sets which they duplicated on a soundstage. Elden’s (actor David Jensen) house was another combination of practical and stage sets. A modest, 1960s ranch-style house in Mandeville, much of its interior was recreated for a scene in which Alton’s power is unintentionally unleashed and rises to literally earth-shaking levels. “We doubled it for the stage so we could make On the run with JAEDEN LIEBERHER as Alton and MICHAEL SHANNON as Roy (L-R)



the house vibrate and start to fall apart,” says Keith. “Everything needed to be built onto a hydraulic system.” Not surprisingly, this scene was a favorite of young Jaeden Lieberher. “One place I had a lot of fun was at Elden’s house, when the walls were splitting and I had the special effects glasses on so light was coming out of my eyes and everything was shaking,” he says. “When I read the script, I didn’t know they were going to do it that way; I thought it was going to be visual effects or post-production. It was really cool.” Among the biggest stunt sequences is a car chase down a logging road, in which an SUV with Roy at the wheel runs over spike strips, crashes through a barricade and continues as far as he can take it, despite deployed airbags, deflated tires and shattered windows. The vehicle was rigged to flip via a catch-wire and take a barrel roll with




the actors and the camera inside. “Jeff wanted to create situations that were grave and seemed insurmountable and then find a way through them, but it had to be credible,” says stunt coordinator Scott Rogers. “You had to believe the car would keep going. We weren’t trying to do crazy car stunts; it’s all action that supports the story. We worked in pre-production on ways to create an amount of damage to the car that we felt it could sustain and still function.” When the cars weren’t flipping or on a tow rig, Shannon and Edgerton took turns driving, often with Nichols and Stone crouching on the floor or in an open seat. What appears on its face as an urgent but straightforward pursuit soon reveals layers of depth and a mystifying, otherworldly story. As the relationships between the fugitives and their pursuers come into sharper focus, the audience is taken along on a real adventure. “I often compare this film to the reverse of one of those Russian nesting dolls, which start out large and open up multiple times to produce smaller and smaller versions until you get down to the core,” says Nichols. “This starts with a kind of indie feel, where you’re on the road with these guys, and then it gets progressively bigger and bigger until it falls off the edges of the frame.” Nichols, who cites the mood and style of such 1980s sci-fi classics as Starman among his artistic influences and inspirations, adds, “There’s the suggestion that Alton is meant for something or somewhere else, that his powers are symptoms of what he’s meant to do. As he starts to understand what his abilities are and take control of them, he starts to get healthier and better, whereas when his father tries to control them, for Alton’s own sake, it actually makes him sicker. Roy and Lucas don’t understand his capabilities, and we as the audience aren’t supposed to understand them either. In one way, that’s a metaphor for the fact that our kids are going to be who they are, and we just have to have

JAEDEN LIEBERHER as Alton in director Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi thriller MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, Look for the film, which is slowly expanding, to hit theaters nationwide in April. 14 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE



faith in that and let them go.” “I appreciate the ambiguity of it,” interjects actor Michael Shannon, who has played an integral part in each of Nichols’ previous films and returns to take the lead in Midnight Special. “Most people have some mystery in their lives; they are confounded by certain unanswerable questions. I don’t think Roy really knows what’s happening with his son.” In a larger sense, the story explores the nature of faith in its many forms, and the lengths to which people will go for what that means to them. Nichols says, “This is about belief in something you don’t understand. What would you do if you knew your child was bound for somewhere you couldn’t go?” Midnight Special is currently playing in limited release. Look for it to expand to theaters near you soon. LFV


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n Monday January 11, Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge was transformed for Louisiana’s new governor, John Bel Edwards, and his Inaugural Ball. For many within the film industry who attended, the location was also symbolic of the hope this new administration brings to the film industry. Louisiana Film & Video Magazine talked to Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn to gain some insight. “A few weeks before the general election, Governor Edwards visited with a number of representatives from Louisiana’s film industry here at the studio. He assured us that he understood the importance of film jobs for the state’s economy and expressed his support for the thousands of men and women who work in the industry here. Because we knew that we would likely have at least two big stages available on Governor John Bel Edwards January 11, we offered Celtic as a potential venue of his inaugural ball. A few days after he won, his team let us know that he would like to have it here,” says Mulhearn. “As someone who lives by the West Point Honor Code and as a trained Army Ranger, John Bel Edwards is literally and figuratively a straight shooter. I think it is safe to say Governor Edwards would not have chosen a movie studio for his Inaugural Ball if he did not appreciate what the film industry means to Louisiana,” continues Mulhearn. “With more than 4,000 attendees, the event was a huge success. Like any big production, the ball required plenty of time prepping

and striking. Unlike more traditional venues that require event planners to keep tight schedules, Celtic’s stages offered a blank canvas to decorate and plenty of space in a safe, secure yet relaxed environment,” adds Mulhearn. The open stages at Celtic Studios was a great opportunity but one that is highly unusual. Celtic’s stages in Baton Rouge

L to R Michael O’Connor, Celtic Group President and CEO, Alisa O’Connor, Patrick Mulhearn, Exec. Director of Celtic Studios, First Lady Donna Edwards, Governor John Bel Edwards ISSUE ONE 2016



stay busy. “While we did host the re-shoots on 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four last year, 2015 will be remembered as the year we had three different scripted television series shoot with us,” Mulhearn explains. “Sony Pictures Television’s Underground debut was the most watched program in 18 years on WGN America and currently airs Wednesdays at 9 PM. The Sundance Channel’s Hap and Leonard is doing well and currently airs Tuesdays at 9 PM, and Season 1 of MTV’s Scream has already aired, but is now available for those who missed it through Amazon Prime.” “We are currently hosting the supernatural indie thriller Camera Obscura,” adds Mulhearn. “They are in prep but will start photography soon. Our fingers are crossed that both Underground and Hap and Leonard maintain such strong viewer numbers and

L-R Louisiana Film & Entertainment Executive Director David Tatman, Maria Tatman, Executive Director at Celtic Studios Patrick Mulhearn, Louisiana Film & Entertainment Lobbyist Keli Williams



Inaugural 1st Dance, Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Hutto Edwards

return to Baton Rouge in the near future to shoot their second seasons.” John Bel Edwards may have taken center stage for the inaugural ball, but clearly Celtic Studios was the belle of the ball. With nearly 150,000 square feet of design-built stage space, almost 100,000 square feet of gated office space, and an additional 50,000 square feet of covered support space all located on 40 acres in the heart of Baton Rouge, Celtic Studios has the size and services to meet the demands of most any production. LFV











Anthony Mackie made history as the first African American King of the Krewe of Bacchus.

ruled over the “super krewe” for its inaugural ride in 1969. Past kings have included icons such as Bob Hope and Charlton Heston. While the parade route has always been filled with star struck fans, the crowds go wild when the celebrity also has ties to Louisiana. Mackie is a New Orleans native and an alumnus of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). His roles have been as diverse as his movies ranging from Notorious to Million Dollar Baby to We Are Marshall to The Night Before. His latest film Triple 9 just released in theaters. In Triple 9, Mackie provides a standout performance as a veteran cop who gets involved in some illegal activity and then begins to question his decisions. Up next at theaters for Mackie will be his role in Captain America: Civil War. The trailers have teased that his character Falcon will be an integral player in this upcoming film. 2016 definitely looks like a great year for homegrown talent, especially when it comes to actor Anthony Mackie! LFV


n February 7, 2016, award winning actor Anthony Mackie took on a new and different role as King of the Krewe of Bacchus. Despite the cold, Mackie delighted crowds by throwing copious amounts of doubloons to adoring fans. The parade’s theme this year was Flights of Delight which was very fitting for Mackie who is best known to many fans as the character Falcon from the Marvel movie franchise. Bacchus was the first parade to break from local tradition and have a celebrity ride as monarch when acting legend Danny Kaye

(Left to right) Anthony Mackie and Clifton Collins Jr. in Triple 9. ISSUE ONE 2016







Educating potential tax credit buyers and CPAs on the purchasing process, including the here have been a myriad of discussions regarding the various aspects of the crucial element of identifying Louisiana Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit program in Louisiana. Many of a credible source of tax credits these encompass the legal, legislative or regulatory sides of the program, or in this state, was important so that taxpayers could better involve a debate over the benefits to our community, whether in the form of job ensure a successful and pleasant creation or increased business expenditures. However, one important part of the experience with this important program that is usually overlooked in the mainstream discussions surrounding this piece of their financial planning. Thanks in part to these program is the use of the tax credits for individual and family financial planning. efforts, coupled with protective legislative changes, a more informed and sophisticated market has developed, with thousands of Over the years, some bad headlines have affected the trust of Louisiana taxpayers now buying and using tax credits against their the public and the investors in the program with respect to buying state tax liability. tax credits. As a financial advisor that includes selling tax credits Financial advisors may use these film tax credits to complement as part of my business, I have had experience with this firsthand. many other plans created together for their clients. In a world where It was common to go into meetings and hear about the “New a 10-year treasury yields under 2% and a 1-year CD yields less than Orleans Saints Case” or a story about someone that paid for credits 1%, an average 10-12% return on an investment via purchasing tax that they never received. As a result, CPAs were very skeptical of credits certified by the State of Louisiana looks very attractive. The the program and were hesitant to refer clients, afraid they’d lose a tax credits are typically bought at a reduced rate, perhaps around relationship due to something going wrong with the credits. $0.88-.90 on the dollar, but the purchaser is afforded a dollar for To combat this, meetings and conferences between brokers dollar reduction of their state tax liability. The process of purchasing and CPAs from across the state were developed to help educate tax credits is fairly straightforward and is regulated by the Departand inform the public about the benefits of purchasing Louisiana ment of Revenue through their Tax Credit Registry. certified film tax credits and also about the ways that participants By purchasing these credits at a discount of anywhere from 8% to can better verify and vet the tax credits being purchased and sold.





13% (depending on the supply and demand and other forces in the market), these individuals may be able to gain an extra form of income that may be applied to a different part of their financial plan. An investment advisor may recommend that these taxpayers invest the funds saved on their taxes by making a contribution to their IRA (Individual Retirement Plan) for those who qualify, or to start a college fund for a child or a grandchild, or to start investing in Tax Free Municipal Bonds. For larger corporations who participate, the dollars saved may be used for expansion, debt reduction or hiring, which are great multipliers beyond the reduction of a tax liability. There may be several avenues to direct these funds within a financial plan, but the advice will depend on the specific situation and needs of the person or company, and should always come from a trusted financial advisor. But it is important to remember that using a tax credit may be able to generate an average 10% return on something Leonardo Barros, Chartered Financial Analyst with FBT Investments that our state has certified



and put their seal of approval on—something other financial products may not be able to match. So before filing your state taxes, talk to your CPA, financial planner or legal advisor about tax credits and if they can benefit your overall financial plan. It is also important to keep an eye on the state tax credit cap, which is presently in place for three fiscal years beginning July 1, 2015 (and ending June 30, 2018). The tax credit cap places a limit of $180 million worth of tax credits which may be used by taxpayers per fiscal year (beginning July 1st and ending June 30th). Therefore, timing when you file your tax returns if you are using tax credits is an important decision that you should make with your legal or financial advisor. LFV NOTE: This article is provided as a public service for general information purposes only. The material contained in the article may not reflect the most current financial or legal developments. Such material does not constitute financial or legal advice or otherwise, and no person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information contained in this article without seeking appropriate legal, financial or other professional advice based on that person’s particular circumstances. FBT Investments, Inc., FBT Film Credit, L.L.C. and the author expressly disclaim all liability to any person with respect to the contents of this article, and with respect to any act or failure to act made in reliance on any material contained herein.

Leonardo Barros is a Branch Manager and Municipal Securities Principal with FBT Investments, Inc. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and sells tax credits on behalf of FBT Film Credit, L.L.C.

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Factory Girl The Guardian Ruffian Premonition Mr. Brooks Initiation of Sarah My Mom’s New Boyfriend Blonde Ambition Last Lullaby Harold & Kumar II Cleaner The Mist Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Mad Money The Pardon The Great Debaters Major Movie Star Wonderful World Queen Sized

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The Killing Room Year One The Longshots Soul Men Tekkon Sordid Lives Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Disaster Movie W. Streets of Blood True Blood Leaves of Grass Cool Dog Straw Dogs Battle: Los Angeles Super 6 Month Rule Drive Angry Butter The Gates

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Vampires Suck Trespass Shark Night 3D Playing For Keeps The East The Iceman Leather Face 3D The Last Time I Made Straight A’s Olympus Has Fallen Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Snitch The Town That Dreaded Sundown Dakota’s Summer Dark Places The Last Word Salem Shut In I Saw The Light The Tale

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L-R Cindy Alsfeld, attorney, Carol Morton, New Orleans Director of Film and Entertainment, Lenny Alsfeld, FBT Film and Entertainment, Cory Parker, Business Manager of IATSE, and two of their friends STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS COURTESY OF FBT FILM AND ENTERTAINMENT


ecently, the team at FBT Film and Entertainment journeyed from Louisiana to Park City, Utah, for the annual Sundance Film Festival. While they enjoyed the films and the parties, President and CEO Leonard Alsfeld was there on a mission. “I attended with the business manager of IATSE, Cory Parker, and the Louisiana Film Commissioner Chris Stelly,” says Alsfeld. “Our reason for attending was to re-educate Hollywood and the film industry that Louisiana is still the best state to shoot. Now offering the most generous credits (30 + 10% for resident labor), we have an explosive and expanded digital credit program. Forbes calls Louisiana ‘The Brain Gain State.’ The State has issued more than $1.3 billion of production credits since 2010 on spending of more than $7 billion and added more than 17,000 direct and indirect jobs because of this investment. Clearly, the media has made the new $180 million cap the centerpiece of covering our program, but the issue still remains: Louisiana has been the key location for many Academy Award winning and Emmy productions. It has underexposed locations and exotic natural environments; a deep and talented crew base; studios located in Shreveport, Baton Rouge, LaPlace, New Orleans East, Downtown New Orleans, Jefferson Parish (4 miles from the International Airport), and Chalmette.” Alsfeld may be biased on Louisiana but it is probably because he is the leading expert on the tax credit program in the state. His company, FBT Film and Entertainment (, is the largest production credit broker in Louisiana. He has assisted in more than 250 productions, commercials, documentaries, music videos and live entertainment projects since 2004. His company handles completion bonds for film finances, and he has recruited many of the projects that shot in Louisiana over the past decade. “Recently, legislators created laws to allow Louisianan bank access to advancing on credits. Allowing the interest expenses to be captured (as a State expense to receive 30% credits) while allowing banks to sell the credits back to the State at $0.85 per $1.00 and covering their



Robin Barnes (L) enchants audiences with her singing

lending exposure. This new program adds additional reasons to fund a movie made in our State,” explains Alsfeld. “Yes, we understand that California’s expanded cap and Georgia’s competitive rate has softened our markets. But when the clouds lift over the State deficits due to depressed oil prices, Louisiana will stand flush with expanded revenues due to that fact. We are the largest known reserves for natural gas and #3 in oil. Louisiana will have the most attractive and profitable program in America because we are blessed with this natural commodity. So our message at Sundance is, ‘Come home to the Big Easy and take advantage of the most attractive setting for making a movie and having a great time in the process.’” Leonard Alsfeld wasn’t alone in voting the New Orleans Brunch at Sundance as their favorite event. “The City of NOLA film representatives, along with the LED (Louisiana Entertainment Development) and the New Orleans Film Festival sponsored a brunch (12 - 3 PM) on January 25, 2016, at Riverhorse on Main. The party served Louisiana-style cuisine and drink,” says film producer Renee Henry. “It was standing room only, and the networking with film directors, cinematographers, producers, actors and musicians was impressive.” “Bryan Landry from the Besh Group was the Chef,” adds New Orleans Liaison for Economic Development Rebecca Conwell. “One of my favorite films was the Steve Gleason documentary, and my festival highlight was meeting the Steve Gleason documentary team. I also enjoyed watching Manchester by the Sea, Birth of a Nation, and Miles Ahead,” says Henry. Alsfeld cites the City of New Orleans/New Orleans Film Festival Brunch at Sundance this year as a good example of what makes filming in the “Crescent City” so special. “Food, hospitality, music, a true soul, a commitment to celebrate our lives and being grateful for a future that is bright … the setting for this party demonstrated that fact to more than 500 guests and showcased what make us (as a filming location) unique,” says Alsfeld. “We are about to throw a Jazz Fest party next month and then French Quarter Festival (April), Essence Festival (July), Voodoo Music Festival (October), and Mardi Gras (February). Where else can you flavor such a variety of fun with a city that welcomes the world?” Where else, indeed! And with a 40% tax credit for filming, Louisiana was hot this winter at Sundance. LFV


The Mardi Gras spirit at Sundance


LIFF entertains with music and more!



n preparation for the upcoming, annual Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) in Baton Rouge, staff members kicked off festivities early this January at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

LIFF’s Sundance party was a great success

Second-lining at Sundance

LIFF Executive Director Chesley Heymsfield (center) poses with the Michael Foster Project Brass Band and Heather Day (rear)

“This is LIFF’s 3rd year appearing at Sundance,” said Heather Day, Events Director for LIFF. “LIFF wanted to give Park City a taste of Louisiana culture and encourage them to come down and experience it for themselves. We rented Park City Live and brought Louisiana carnival to the mountains. The music started with a second line down Main Street with The Michael Foster Project Brass Band. Our crew and many of our guests were in full Mardi Gras costumes.” “The venue was styled with Mardi Gras throws, Spanish moss, alligator skulls, and a hand painted backdrop and signs by TJ Black. Chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll from Sac-A-Lait and

Chef Sean Rivera from Baton Rouge’s Driftwood Cask and Barrel catered. We also brought C.C. Adcock and Curly Taylor from Lafayette to thrill the audience with their washboard and electric guitar. Following them, we had the Michael Foster Project hipshake the crowd along with costumed dancers and drag queens. For even more eye candy, we had TJ Black and Alex Harvie painting the party live,” explained Day. If you missed partying with LIFF at Sundance, you still have the opportunity to join the fun April 13 – 17 at this year’s annual Louisiana International Film Festival at Cinemark Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge. LFV ISSUE ONE 2016



LOUISIANA INTERNATIONAL CINEMARK AT PERKINS ROWE IN BATON ROUGE CINEMARK 2 (168 seats) 5:30 PM: THE FITS (72 min) New Voices 7:15 PM: MISSING PEOPLE (76 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives 9:15 PM: COMMUNITY (78 min + Q&A) Genre

WEDNESDAY, April 13th SPECIAL PRESENTATION by Louisiana Film Society CINEMARK 1 (270 seats) 7:30 PM: GIVING BIRTH IN AMERICA with Q&A by Christy Turlington Burns

CINEMARK 3 (167 seats) 7:00 PM: THE ONES BELOW (87 min) World Cinema 9:00 PM: SIDEMEN: LONG ROAD TO GLORY (78 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives CINEMARK 4 (167 Seats) 6:30 PM: IXCANUL (93 min) New Voices 8:35 PM: THE ADDERALL DIARIES (105 min) Special Presentation

Lo and Behold

THURSDAY, April 14th OPENING NIGHT CINEMARK 1 (270 seats) + 1 more screen 7:30 PM: MISS SHARON JONES! (93 min)


FRIDAY, April 15th CINEMARK 1 (271 seats) 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM: Swaybox - Mentorship Classes not on Cinemark website 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Apple presents Video with iPhone - Mentorship Class not on web 3:00 PM: ANIMATED SHORTS (Kid Friendly) (60 min) 5:15 PM: Top 3 Louisiana Film Prize Shorts Showcase with Q&A 7:30 PM: BREAKING THE BANK (98 min) World Cinema 9:45 PM: TICKLED (92 min) Real Reel 28 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


Embrace the Serpent

SATURDAY, April 16th CINEMARK 1 (271 Seats) 12:15 PM: AFTER THE SPILL (62 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives 2:15 PM: RAIDERS! (104 min) Special Presentation 4:30 PM: PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (80 min + Q&A) Special Presentation 7:30 PM: BORN TO BE BLUE (92 min + Q&A) Gala 10:00 PM: BASKIN (97 min) Genre CINEMARK 2 (168 Seats) 11:45 AM: BOY AND THE WORLD (83 min) World Cinema, Family 1:40 PM: MARGUERITE (127 min) World Cinema 4:20 PM: LO AND BEHOLD (98 min) Real Reel 6:30 PM: DHEEPAN (115 min) Special Presentation 9:00 PM: MY FATHER, DIE (102 min + Q&A) Genre CINEMARK 3 (167 Seats) 10:00 AM: Louisiana Shorts 12:30 PM: *SIDEMEN (78 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives 2:45 PM: THE MAYOR: LIFE OF RILEY (66 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives 4:40 PM: *MISSING PEOPLE (76 min + Q&A) Southern Perspectives 6:45 PM: SEARCH ENGINES (98 min + Q&A) New Voices 9:15 PM: IS THAT A GUN IN YOUR POCKET? (97 min + Q&A) New Voices

FILM FESTIVAL CINEMARK 4 (167 Seats) 11:45 AM: EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (135 min) New Voices 2:30 PM: THE WRONG LIGHT (77 min + Q&A) Real Reel 5:00 PM: RAMS (97 min) World Cinema 7:15 PM: CHEVALIER (99 min) World Cinema 9:30 PM: EL CLAN (110 min) World Cinema

APRIL 13 – 17, 2016


SUNDAY, April 17th CINEMARK 1 (270 Seats) 12:00 PM: MAYA ANGELOU AND STILL I RISE (114 min) Special Presentation 2:30 PM: NO GREATER LOVE (92 min + Q&A) Real Reel 5:00 PM: NORMAN LEAR (91 min) Special Presentation 7:30 PM: LITTLE MEN (85 min) Closing Night Gala CINEMARK 2 (168 Seats) 11:30 AM: LOST AND FOUND (90 min) New Voices Family 1:30 PM: THE INNOCENTS (115 min) World Cinema 4:00 PM: INGRID BERGMAN (114 min) Real Reel 6:30 PM: SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME (98 min) New Voices 8:45 PM: TBA CINEMARK 3 (167 Seats) 10:00 AM: INTERNATIONAL SHORTS (120 min) 12:30 PM: VITA ACTIVA: THE SPIRIT OF HANNAH ARENDT (125 min) Real Reel 3:10 PM: *PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (80 min + Q&A) Special Presentation 5:30 PM: *THE FITS (72 min) New Voices 7:15 PM: TBD: ANIMATED SHORT (30 min) & HOTEL BLUE (30 min) & Throwbacks CINEMARK 4 (167 Seats) 11:45 AM: SUNSET SONG (135 min) World Cinema 2:30 PM: SEVEN DAYS IN NEPAL (63 min + Q&A) Southern 4:30 PM: BOGALUSA CHARM (83 min) Southern Percpectives 6:45 PM: L’ATTESA (100 min) World Cinema 9:00 PM: ANIMATED SHORTS (Mature / 55 min)

LIFF 2016 passes are on sale now through the official festival website VIP Passes offer access to unlimited film screenings for the festival, priority seating to all films with VIP reserved seating, entry into all special events with live music and entertainment as well as VIP food and drink benefits for $150. All Access Passes offer access to unlimited film screenings for the festival, priority seating to all films and entry into all special events with live music and entertainment for $125. Student Passes offer access to unlimited film screenings and entry into all special events with live music and entertainment for $20 with a valid student ID. Entry is on a first come first served basis. All Mentorship Program workshops & events with special guests speakers during the festival are free of charge and open to the public. Individual movie tickets are available for purchase from the Cinemark Perkins Rowe box office for $10 per ticket to any film in the festival. LFV









Actor John Goodman delivers his best performance yet in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

L-R Actors John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead keep us on the edge of our seats in this psychological thriller.

Shot locally, 10 Cloverfield Lane has the distinction that the location of the film is actually supposed to be Louisiana. While most of the film is ingeniously shot on a stage, the few locations shown are definitely New Orleans and its surrounding areas. For Louisiana, it’s always a very welcome homecoming when Goodman is in town. Goodman splits his time between Louisiana and California and has a reputation for being very giving to the local community. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, best known for her role as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and John Gallagher, Jr., from

he Oscars are barely over, yet the Hollywood trades are abuzz about John Goodman’s performance in Paramount Pictures recently released, sci-fi/thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s being hailed as the “best performance” in his career with pundits wondering if this genre film can get Goodman the statue he has long deserved. Overlooked for his brilliant performances in recent films such as Trumbo, Argo, and Inside Llewyn Davis, many say Goodman should have won early on with his role in The Big Lebowski.

L-R Actors John Gallagher Jr, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Goodman in a tense scene from 10 Cloverfield Lane.

the indie darlings Short Term 12 and Pieces of April, join Goodman in the tight knit cast for 10 Cloverfield Lane which could have just as easily been a stage play. Despite a solid script and strong performances by Gallagher and Winstead, the whole film really does hinge on Goodman’s riveting performance. Typically, Oscar fare is crammed into the fall and winter theater schedule. Last year’s genre vehicle Mad Max: Fury Road, which premiered at Cannes and opened wide in May, defied this pattern and won 6 Oscars this year. Will 10 Cloverfield Lane actually do this for Goodman? Only time will tell… LFV ISSUE ONE 2016





he National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM) is a great opportunity to check out some of the latest trends and audio gear for production. The laid back atmosphere of NAMM lets you spend a bit more time looking at the booth displays and talking to not just sales staff but many people who have active roles in developing the products they display. A lot of TV/film centric equipment and services tend to announce or release at CES and NAB but NAMM gives you the ability to spend a bit more time with them on a less crowded show floor.

The F8 was an award winner at NAMM. 32 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


One such product that released at NAB 2015 and was on prominent display at NAMM was the Zoom F8 Field Recorder. The F8 in many ways is new territory for Zoom. This is the first unit that many would consider a true professional field recorder and not a portable audio recorder. It’s also in a

Zoom’s F8 Field Recorder

slightly larger form factor than Zoom’s prior models. The F8 features 8 XLR/TRS combo inputs that offer a maximum of +75 dB per input. All 8 ins can be recorded at once in up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution as well as a stereo reference mix of a total of 10 audio record tracks. If you’re concerned about peeking, limiting can be applied to all eight tracks with adjustable threshold, attack and release controls as well as 10dB of headroom. If you’re only recording 4 tracks at once you can record each dual-channel with a lower gain level on one of the pair in case the primary distorts. You can input time code into the F8 as well as use the unit to generate time code from 23.976 through 30fps. The unit can be powered via batteries, AC adapter or external DC power. There is an iOS app available for Bluetooth control of the F8, and it can even be plugged directly into a computer and used as a DAW. The Zoom F8 retails for an impressive $1,249.99, and an optional custom weather resistant bag is also available. It’s great to see a new entry into field mixers, an area that has not seen a lot of options in the last few years. Hopefully Zoom’s new entry will force other makers into offering more features and more competitive pricing. LFV

Louis Hernandez, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of Avid

Songwriter/Producer Jesse “Corporal” Wilson




he annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim is a great place for filmmakers to network with musicians; it opens up great possibilities ranging from finding songs for films to finding musicians who can score an entire film. This year, Avid delivered Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools, an expanded Avid Marketplace, Sibelius 8.1 software, and more. This is great news for filmmakers because sound is such an important element in media projects. “With Avid Everywhere, we established an ambitious strategy to help musicians and audio professionals solve their biggest, most significant problems,” said Louis Hernandez, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO, Avid. “We are delivering on what we promised by introducing key innovations that help musicians and audio professionals to connect and collaborate in a comprehensive global ecosystem, get the tools they need when and where they need them, and be heard on a global stage.” Avid introduced Pro Tools 12.5 software, offering select customers early access to the highly anticipated Avid Cloud Collaboration for Pro Tools. Avid Cloud Collaboration makes it easy for artists, audio professionals, and filmmakers to compose, record, edit, and mix projects from any location worldwide. In support of this release, Avid also announced that the Artist Community, an online community designed to facilitate collaboration, is now open to everyone. Delivering on the promise to deliver more frequent innovation, Pro Tools 12.5 will represent the fifth software release in less than a year.

Avid announced continued momentum for the Avid Marketplace, with a significant number of developers making their AAX audio plug-ins available for sale through the Avid Store. Additionally, Avid introduced an enhanced in-app purchasing experience that allows Pro Tools customers to purchase and authorize Avid plug-ins from directly within Pro Tools. Customers can acquire plug-ins quickly and effortlessly, when they need them, without stopping the creative flow. Avid unveiled new Sibelius 8.1 music notation software, helping composers to create beautiful, accurate, easy-to-read scores more effortlessly than ever. The value of having sheet music for a film score is immense and should not be underestimated by filmmakers. Avid discussed their innovation in pro mixing with Pro Tools | S6; this included the introduction of version 2.1 software, the S6 Master Joystick Module, and the announcement of the S6 Master Post Module. With this, Avid is giving audio professionals even greater efficiency and flexibility so they can handle the most demanding projects and create their best work. Perhaps the most exciting announcement was with Avid and Berklee Online, the online extension school of Berklee College of Music. Together they are leveraging Avid Everywhere to reach larger numbers of students through the launch of a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) dedicated to Pro Tools. Combined with Pro Tools | First, a free version of Pro Tools, this free, no-cost course makes it possible for any musician or aspiring media professional to get the tools and the training to achieve their creative goals. Of course the cornerstone of all of this is Avid Everywhere, Avid’s subscription based solution which delivers an innovative and comprehensive media platform connecting content creation with collaboration, asset protection, distribution and consumption. At NAMM, Avid’s booth always had a crowd, and it was a great place to network with musicians; however, Avid is designing their Artist Community and Marketplace to be able to connect musicians and their work with end users everywhere. LFV ISSUE ONE 2016






O A state-of-the-art editing suite at Light Iron

James Finn (R), Marketing Executive, US Regional Operations, Panavision

Weapon, Red’s new 8K camera with a Panavision 65mm prime lens

n January 16, Panavision and Light Iron had a ribbon cutting of their new facility on Distributors Row in the Elmwood Park area of Jefferson Parish just down the street from Nims Studio. The new 30,500-square-foot space is an expansion for Panavision and will also house Light Iron’s first brickand-mortar facility in Louisiana. The state-of-the-art facility represents the first location occupied jointly by both companies since Panavision acquired Light Iron, a leader in digital workflow solutions, earlier this year. Mayor Michael S. Yenni of Jefferson Parish, Councilman Paul Johnston of Harahan, and Jefferson Parish Film Coordinator Dominique Rotolo joined executives from Panavision and Light Iron for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Upon entering the new building, there was a small red carpet followed by several Panavision cameras and lenses on display including the one Dean Semler, ASC used for Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves and the rig that was recently used on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Panavision’s new, high-tech space houses a full range of filmmaking equipment with onsite access to the company’s technicians and optics specialists. The new location also features an expanded prep floor, a private prep room for larger projects, and a 40-by-40-foot room with an 18-foot ceiling, optimized for shooting test footage. Just up the stairs is the Light Iron space which houses a DI theater, which can facilitate remote DI sessions with the company’s Los Angeles and New York facilities. The theater can also be used for reviewing camera tests, setting looks, and screening dailies. In addition, the new facility offers offline editorial suite rentals. Michael Cioni, President of Light Iron, and CFO Peter Cioni took us on a tour upstairs. Chris Peariso, Chief Technical Officer and one of the founders of Light Iron, explained about the theater there and its impact from camera to post. “At Light Iron, we’ve always believed in the marrying of camera and post production,” said Michael Cioni. “Having Light Iron ISSUE ONE 2016



L-R Panavision Exec VP Global Sales and Marketing Bob Harvey, Joan Gossett, Amy Ransow, Susie Labry, and Panavision VP Marketing Atlanta Robert Presley

co-located with Panavision in a vibrant shooting destination like Louisiana is a case study of what the future will look like. Providing comprehensive services under one roof is exponentially more valuable when most everyone is on location. When a cinematographer or crew member has questions about workflow, we have the onsite resources available to answer them in real-time.” “We’ve worked on many great projects in Louisiana over the years with our popular OUTPOST division,” noted Cioni. “With the growing needs of customer demand there, as well as Panavision’s footprint in the state, we felt this was the right time to have a physical presence in New Orleans. The Light Iron team is very excited to be collaborating with the local film community.” After our tour, we were treated to a delightful reception catered by Southern Hospitality. The food was delicious and included

chipotle grilled shrimp wraps, crab cake balls with spicy remoulade sauce, and crawfish brioche. The soiree attracted a diverse group of attendees from varying facets of the film industry including Darcy McKinnon of NOVAC, George and Eileen Steiner of Filmworks, Raelynn Tammariello Loop, owner of Tax Credit Exchange, and her husband Peter Loop L-R Councilman Paul Johnston, Jefferson Parish who owns Loop President Michael Yenni, and VP of US Regional Operations John Schrimpf Garou Entertainment. Dave Pomier, producer of Looper, Self/less, and the upcoming Free State of Jones, was also in attendance. Open since December, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was the first project to utilize the capabilities of Panavision’s new, expanded location in New Orleans. It is already booked as an additional unit for Fox’s Scream Queens (Season 2). We are proud to welcome this lovely business to our community. LFV

Anne Conway Photography MFA, Photographer

Portraits, Stills, Events, Architecture and Interiors. Commissions Welcomed.

Anne Conway Jennings New Orleans, LA 36 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE





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oe Dante returned to Louisiana this year to direct an episode of the WGN show Salem for the show’s upcoming third season; it’s his second time directing for the show. While Dante may be best known for his work in film and directing big box office hits like Gremlins and Innerspace or cult classics like The Howling and Piranha, he’s no stranger to television. He’s directed episodes of Amazing Stories, Masters of Horror, and CSI:NY.

calm nature of the environment. There was no mystery to Dante’s I had a chance to spend mood; he was very focused yet tranquil. some time on the Salem set Dante started his career working as an editor for Roger Corman; at Grand Cane, just south of this experience along with his years as a director has no doubt built Shreveport, and watch Joe his keen vision. He knows exactly what he wants to see on set and Dante at work. Many would isn’t afraid to move on after a single take. When he didn’t see what not be surprised to see such he was looking for in a scene, he was quick to talk to his crew and a seasoned director managcast to convey his ideas. ing every detail of what went In one scene Seth Gabel, who plays Cotton Mather, had to run on in front of the camera through the woods fending off attacking crows. The vegetation was like Stanley Kubrick and Director Joe Dante on the set of Salem so heavy that Gabel couldn’t see the cameras and wasn’t sure about other famous directors have his blocking. To make matters more challenging for the actor, the often done, but what I saw of him at work was very different. crows were going to be added in during post so he was unsure how Salem makes extensive use of Steadicam shots, and Dante left large his movements should be. Dante was quick to go out and talk much of the camera movement and framing to cinematographer to the actor, calmly explaining what he wanted to see and ensuring Mark Vargo and his camera operators. Likewise, he left much of the that Gabel was at ease. The pair spent almost as much time talking performances to the cast and relied on 1st AD Rick Kelly to guide as it took to shoot the scene, but the background cast. Dante as a result, they were able to get didn’t sit around waiting on through shooting the complex his crew between takes. He scene with very few takes. could usually be seen reading Dante went about his work script pages or looking over on set with an intensity and asthe set, planning the next suredness that was plain to see. scene. This allowed the crew to His calm demeanor helped keep move very quickly. his cast and crew happy and at Dante kept a watchful eye ease even after a long, cold night on the monitors but didn’t of shooting. It was both enlighthide behind them. In between ening and a pleasure to see such takes, he was often out walking a talented director at work. LFV the set which may very well Joe Dante uses an on camera monitor to stay closer to actor Seth Gabel (Cotton have helped the fast paced but Mather) during a challenging VFX shot. ISSUE ONE 2016






L-R Director Joe Dante discuss a scene with actor Shane West on the set of Salem STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM


put myself on tape (for an audition for Salem) while I was still filming our final season of Nikita in Toronto. I sent my tape in; they liked it. So when I finished up with Nikita, I went straight into a physical meeting with the casting department. I heard ‘Louisiana,’ but that’s it,” explains Salem lead actor Shane West. “I got excited because the running joke in my family since I started acting at 17 years old … was that I was never going to film in Louisiana even though I’m from here. All of a sudden, I saw this opportunity. I asked them in the audition, and they said Shreveport. I remember thinking, ‘Well it’s Louisiana; it’s still about a four hour drive to Baton Rouge where I’m from. It would be more exciting if it was in Baton

Rouge or New Orleans … but if I book this, I can finally say that I’ve worked in Louisiana.’ Now, I know Shreveport better than I do Baton Rouge!” “Shreveport is finally offering non-stop flights to New Orleans. It’s much easier to get down there now,” continues West. “About once a season, the cast will head to New Orleans to go play. This season, the guys from the cast headed down. It’s hard trying to organize a bunch of people to go together, but we’ve gone every year, at least once. We hadn’t been able to get there this year so we wanted to do it when it wasn’t a holiday weekend.” “I’m spoiled,” explains West. “I’m not sure about the rest of the cast, but this is my 4th series and I’ve had a tight knit cast and a great group of people on all four series. I’ve heard horror stories from a lot of other people, but we just kind of bonded instantaneously in the beginning in Season 1 on Salem. We seem to do a little more guy things now, and I think the girls seem to do more girl things; there’s no particular reason for that. I think it’s just nice, when you’re away from home and displaced into another city to work on a project for several months, to be able to have some sort of bond especially in a town the size of Shreveport which isn’t as ISSUE ONE 2016



L-R Shane West as John Alden and Janet Montgomery as Mary Sibley in Season 1 of Salem

big and lively as a New York City or a Chicago or someplace that lends itself to bonding a lot easier.” Salem is shooting for 70 days in Shreveport and Grand Cane, Louisiana, this year. Fox is producing 10 episodes for Season 3 for WGN which works out to 7 days per episode. “Every year has been hectic for some reason or another. This year, it’s been better when it comes to weather, but we’ve had a lot of re-shoots, and we’ve had a lot of second units. One of our main characters is a young boy so there are shortened hours that we have to work around. We’ve also added a lot of random animals and so you have to work animals hours too so it’s a little nuts,” says West. “Basically, we’re shooting a period piece that has special effects, makeup effects, costumes, period sets, and we’re filming on a six workday episode which is borderline insanity. But what happened is, in season one we accomplished it; we did a good job, and we did what they gave us to do so you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. We proved that we could do it so now we have to continue to do it. It’s tough, but it’s become more of a family this third season. People know each other or getting to know each other and standing up for each other and protecting each other; that’s the most important thing when you’re on a show.” “I hadn’t really done a period piece before. This was my first so I feel like I’m spoiled already. Walking into the incredible production design we’ve built on the interior sets and even on the stages but especially the town of Salem that we’ve built out in Grand Cane, I mean it really doesn’t get any better than this, especially on television. There’s some films that wouldn’t have even been able to build what we have built. The costumes and wardrobe design from Joseph Porro are second to none. The fact that he hasn’t been nominated for an award is absolutely criminal and that’s not just me being nice; that’s just facts. I don’t think there’s any show out there that’s doing what we’re doing costume wise so when you have that out there and that’s your reality, it’s just very easy to immerse yourself into the character and into the world we’ve all created,” explains West. “When I saw the amazing sets out in Grand Cane, I remember saying to one of our writers in Season 1 who had also worked on Deadwood, which I loved, ‘This must be like Deadwood isn’t it?’ And she just started laughing and said, ‘Shane, in no way! This is far bigger than what we built on Deadwood.’ That blew my mind because they made Deadwood look very big and very expansive; but apparently, that was only a fourth of what we’ve built so it’s very, very easy to 42 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


slip right into that. I can’t imagine now having to do a period piece without having the phenomenal workmanship that we have on this show. It would be a let down, I guess.” While it sounds like West is just gushing over the crew, the truth is that the actor is a fan, of film, in particular. He peppers his speech with references to genre and classic cinema favorites. But his love for film carries over into his craft and how he creates character. A great example of this, is his approach to Salem’s John Alden. “I approach my character John Alden the same way every season as I did, perhaps, for my first audition for him. He is probably the most straightforward character you have on the show. I looked at him from my first audition all the way through my screen test as the first cowboy, the first American hero, a John Wayne so to speak, well before the cowboys even existed. So this is the first American born hero and with that comes pride, gumption, stubbornness, a certain patriotism … all the things you get from a hero,” says West. “I like to look at him (John Alden) and use him as the audience’s voice. If you’re watching the show, particularly in season 1, I think you tend to identify more with John Alden than any other characters in the show at that time. And John is walking into this world of the supernatural and even the world of religion with nothing—these are things he is not privy to and knows nothing about; he just reacts. So when he sees a witch or he sees something crazy, he just reacts as a viewer would, as middle America would, as a human being would, in a way even as Kurt Russell would in Big Trouble in Little China minus the comedy. He is the person who reacts as, ‘What in the hell is this? What is going on?’ I think the viewers can attach themselves to and identify with John Alden in terms of that.” West’s inner fan emerges when he talks about the episode’s current director saying, “Joe Dante’s great. I’m a big fan of his. It was exciting to have him on the show. He directed an episode last year, just one, and he’s also directing one this year. The running joke between me and him is that we’ve barely worked together. His episode last season, I had one scene with him where it was revealed that I was being imprisoned by Tituba with chains hanging from the ceiling. Dante directed that scene but then the set that they had built was not up to the standards that they had wanted so basically we re-shot the scene completely with a whole different set and a different director so I was like, ‘God damn, we have Joe Dante, a director I really like, and I don’t even get to talk to the guy.’ In the episode you watched me shoot in Season 3, I barely had any work

Director Joe Dante watching Shane in action

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with him either, but it was lumped into a couple of days, and I made sure I talked to him as much as I could. A couple of my scenes that he was supposed to direct got pushed to another episode with a different director doing them so it’s just kind of funny. We’ll see what happens; if we get a Season 4, maybe I can have a heavy John Alden episode when Joe Dante directs.” “I am a huge horror fan and what I got to do in Season 1 on Salem was more than I ever expected to do and it is ongoing. Having some sort of tribal powers and the strange tattoos, it’s like living out a fantasy of mine. It’s like being able to give an ode to Bruce Campbell in an Evil Dead type of way. Last year, I got to work with Lucy Lawless. For me, this stuff … it makes me get goosebumps. I love it! The things that I’ve done in all three seasons have been pretty amazing. I like to be surprised, and I’ve told them (the writers) that. I think they appreciate that in a sense. I like to have an idea of where the story’s going, but I also like to be surprised episode to episode. They know that I’m a horror fan; they are as well especially Adam Simon (writer/creator). In Season 1, actor Seth Gabel and I had an Evil Dead fight with zombies coming alive and chopping off hands and all that kind of stuff. I got to deal with the Malum, which was in a box that looks an awful lot like the box from Hellraiser, which is another movie that I’m a big fan of,” notes West. “I just geek out; it’s great.” “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that wig from Season 1 anymore; it was very challenging,” recalls West jokingly. He goes on to discuss some of the more difficult aspects of the show. “It’s a very romantic, and romanticized world that we’ve created Actor Shane West prepares for a take on the set of Salem so it can be very storybook-y; it can be fantasy and fairytale; it’s very Gothic and beautiful in its poetry Then they might change some characters or some story lines so and its poetic dialogue. That can be very difficult to express believyou really can only do the prep work for who you are. So far the ably, and it’s something that we, as actors, have had to stay on top writers and creators of Salem have not steered me wrong on the of since the pilot. Making sure that the flowery dialogue doesn’t show. At the beginning of Seasons 1, 2, and 3, they have given me a become too soap opera-ish at times … and bringing it back down basic broad outline of where my character is gonna go. I can throw to reality and to a believability with the words when they come out in some tidbits and ideas and pieces of information I might have, of our mouths, that is the most difficult thing to do and to stay on and they can decide whether they want to include that or not, and top of. For instance, I just got the new episode that we’re starting then we go from there. And that’s about as much prep as we can tomorrow with David Lynch’s daughter, Jen Lynch, as our director, do, especially for a period piece. On Nikita, my last show, there was which I’m excited about. All my dialogue in that episode is perfecttraining and ways of getting into shape between seasons: doing ly written; it just works really well for myself, and it works really some fighting training if I needed to or going to a gun range … to well for John Alden so I haven’t had to worry about that. I think become a little more believable as an assassin/spy. On this show, I all of us have that constant worry: that we’re doing a believable job don’t have that much information to begin with.” with the stories that we’re creating and telling. You know if it was a When we were visiting the set, there were two different directors modern world, 2016, it would be a lot easier, but it’s not. It’s trying on the same day filming scenes from two different episodes. I asked to make it feel authentic that’s challenging.” West about the “splinter cell” shooting. “The problem with television is that you don’t have that much “Nowadays there’s so much material being written and produced time to do prep work,” continues West. “You may have more time that the splinter unit rears its ugly head almost all the time for a lot before or during Season 1, but they don’t tend to have the material of TV series. I am very fortunate in the sense that I have not been (in advance) after that. They don’t know; a lot of times they’re abused by doing that; it’s always tough to be on both units, to go creating on the fly. They have a general idea on what they want to from your main unit to the splinter unit and do costume changes, do, but they want to see how the show airs and how people react. 44 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE



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makeup changes, or the emotional changes for whatever scene or episodes you are bouncing back and forth between. On my last show, Nikita, every other Sunday we did a second unit day of work that was pretty brutal. It’s not fun, but a lot of times, they gotta get the job done. What they usually try to do (on Salem) is push smaller characters and recurring guest stars (to the second unit), so it’s not as much work on the main cast and so they don’t have a heart attack,” jokes West. I asked the Baton Rouge native for advice for emerging actors and his responses were interesting. He couldn’t stress enough the value of creating a real, legitimate resume and not inflating or

In Season 1 of Salem, actor Shane West in his wig



over-hyping your experiences. He also believed that the South was a “hot bed” of work opportunities. West continues to explain about advice as it pertained to his career, “Whether it looks that way or not, there’s a reason I picked everything that I’ve done. I think that it is a good recipe for success as well as keeping yourself levelheaded. I was blessed to have been raised in a wonderful family … They didn’t let me get away with anything. That’s helped me be more of a human being on set … I don’t know how to explain it. We all have our issues; everybody’s had a checkered past or a colored past or an interesting past, but I don’t let my past get involved at work. I do my best to support my cast mates and my crew and to ultimately be a producer type. It’s something that I want to do down the road. I feel like that is something that I’m good at—caring for people and caring for a project and making everyone work well together. I think that’s what keeps me going and helps my longevity … being picky (about my roles), standing my ground, and being responsible on set. I think that really stands out, and it’s what I’ve seen from my experiences over the years.” Salem is West’s 4th scripted series and his experience shows; however, experience in show business typically doesn’t teach humility. When talking to Shane West, it’s easy to forget that he’s not only an actor but a big film, television, and cable star. His southern upbringing can’t be missed; he’s a charming, sweet, humble human being who’s down-to-earth, open, outgoing, and friendly. It’s great to have the Baton Rouge native starring in Salem; the only thing better is to have Salem headlining in Louisiana. LFV

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hen you first pass through Salem’s gates in Grand Cane, Louisiana, it seems like you’re on a typical film set. There are rows of trailers for the cast and crew, a large catering tent, honey wagons, storage containers, and other things you’d expect to see on any film location. Go a little deeper into the woods and suddenly you’re in a small colonial village. Instantly, you’re amazed by the detail of both the construction and the aging of the buildings. As you move onto an active set, you see that the costumes and makeup of even the background cast share that same level of detail. Welcome to Grand Cane where the production design team of Salem has raised the bar for television creating sets and costumes that we’d expect to see from a big-budget feature film.

Attention to detail even with the costumes of the background actors

Unlike buildings seen in many back lots that are merely facades, a number of the structures built for Salem have finished interior sets. Buildings without finished interiors are used to keep equipment and supplies out of the weather. Everything appears to be carefully thought out. It’s unusual that art is paired with pragmatism to such an extent particularly on a film set. On our set visit, we had the opportunity to speak with production designer John Zachary about his work on the show. “I didn’t do the pilot or the first season, I started in season two,” says Zachary. “It was originally designed by Michael Hanan … When I came on board we added a lot of stuff to the town which was initially just a central core area. We added structures to the town so that the camera crews had more freedom to move around and get their shots. You couldn’t look up that road because we parked trucks ISSUE ONE 2016



there … Now when we’re in the town, we can look anywhere without seeing contemporary vehicles. We also added a lot of stuff on the outskirts including the wharf area. Then, we really needed another feel, another look, so we added a down and out section of town. It’s great. It’s a fun place to work.” “When we’re in town, we try to have Production Designer John Zachary The streets of Salem animals. It just adds realism,” continues Zachary. “That’s what it was like in the 17th century. There were always animals running around town. We used to have all these animals, horses and goats put up in a temporary tent for a stable. At the beginning of the season last year, I asked how much that tent rental cost, and it was about the same as us building a set so we decided to build a practical stable set this year. I think it works real well because we house all of our horses and animals in there. We have actually shot inside of there. It’s finished on the inside and the The wharf area was added in Season 2 outside.” Salem even has clever ways of helping or smoke. We just have developed a look for the show that I think handle all the animals that are used on the requires that,” says Zachary. show. In addition to housing the animals on a practical set while “The last two seasons we have kept the cost pretty reasonable. shooting, the animal handlers, trainers, and wranglers on Salem are The initial start up was expensive but we’ve reused things over all dressed in wardrobe so that they can be on set as background and over again. You know recycle, reuse. We have taken sets and while shooting. It helps add an extra level of safety while working modified them and turned them into other sets,” explains Zachary. with large animals like cows and horses. “Last year we built this (exterior set) as a laboratory for a doctor. While a lot of productions try to avoid atmospheric objects He was trying to experiment and figure out where the plague was because of the challenge it adds to photography, Salem embraces them. Zachary believes that it adds to the sense of time and place where the story of Salem takes place because there would always be fog from the sea, smoke from a fire, or something blowing in the air. “I try to have smoke on almost every set. Every interior and every exterior set we shoot, we try to have some sort of atmosphere

Shooting a crowd scene of Salem 50 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


Interior location set of the Sibley house




Interior of the Barber Shop

Exterior of the Barber Shop

coming from. This season, Marilyn Manson’s character uses it as a surgery/barber shop/doctor’s office. In colonial times, they didn’t know very much about medicine at all. They had no understanding of the very small, microscopic world; they had no idea that’s where germs came from. The barber was the most adept with a razor, and since a lot of their medicine was bleeding people, it would be done by a barber.” This year, the interior set for the barbershop was created. It houses a strange collection of specimens in jars, skulls, and occult-like artwork. “Our decorator, Matt Sullivan is wonderful. He found a lot of that stuff. There’s a few places in California that rent those sort of things and most of them are fake…,” says Zachary. “Once we got these things together, we put them in liquids that made them look eerie. That was fun. Everybody likes to see that set. Of course the brains and the human organs, those are all manufactured. In general, we try to use fake stuff as much as we can in the backgrounds, but a lot of times when the camera is right up on it, you need the real stuff. Every time we dress the market, we fill it up with fresh vegetables and fruits, because if you’re close to it, you can tell the difference (between real and fake).” “Joseph Porro is the costume designer. He’s brilliant. He never ceases to amaze me with the costumes,” continues Zachary. “There’s just so much detail that you have to really, really be on top of when doing a show like this. You have to learn what is relative to that period. Even though people might not notice it, we try to keep it really true to the period.” In addition to the Barbershop, there’s about nine other buildings on Salem’s back lot that have finished rooms to use as interiors for 52 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


Fake brains and organs

shooting including a church, a blacksmith shop, and the stable. While shooting interiors on the back lot isn’t always cheaper for the production, it does help out since the production is virtually out of space on their sound stages at Stage Works in Shreveport. “It ebbs and flows quite a bit,” says Zachary, “but we have about 80,000 sq. ft. of stage space (in Shreveport), and it’s always packed full. It’s pretty great; we have some good sets over there (at Stage Works) too.” One of the more unusual interior sets is housed in a building called “the Bird’s Nest.” Zachary explains, “Elise Eberle plays the character Mercy Lewis in the show. When I was talking to the show runner Brannon Braga about this season, the first thing he mentioned was that she was going to become the madame of the brothel at Knockers Hole, and her familiar was a bird. So we decided we would call the brothel the Bird’s Nest, and it became the theme we were going to use. The Bird’s Nest has Mercy’s Boudoir, an interior created on the stage in Shreveport, and the building on location in Grand Cane has the exterior of the brothel and a lobby set inside. We decided we wanted it to have this rich look of red on red on red so in her boudoir everything is red: the walls are red, the shades are red, and her wardrobe is red. Then, we have all these bird cages hanging. It’s really a unique look. We never planned on putting an interior in that building. We just had to modify it so everything would fit inside.”




Interior of the Bird’s Nest

Caged in Salem

“I create a new look book for each season,” Zachary continues. “What we usually do is a presentation, sometimes to the studio (and) sometimes to the network, of where we’re going with the permanent sets this season. Then every new set that comes up, we do a little board where we determine our colors, what dressing we’re going to put in there, how we’re going to arrange it, and so forth. It is quite an involved process, and a lot of times we don’t have much time to do it in which is the tricky part.” “We do a lot of stuff in-house to keep the costs down. We do a lot of the artwork, and we print it ourselves. We have a couple of guys on the set dressing crew who are prop makers, and they build furniture. You can’t go out and buy a chair from the 1690s because it would cost you about $100,000 so we just make them,” says Zachary. “We’re making a dollhouse that plays prominently in this season,” continues Zachary. “We’re printing little figures of the



Red drenched interior

cast to go in there. Photographs of the cast were taken, and we made 3-D models out of them and printed them out so we don’t have to carve them. I’m going to paint them like they’re carved. In production design/set design, you really have to stay abreast. We use a lot of 3-D modeling programs to design sets, and then we take the designs into other programs to make working drawings for construction.” “We always have new stuff to build,” adds Zachary. “We brought the construction guys on early this year. It took them about three weeks to get all the maintenance done. There’s a lot of maintenance on these buildings that have been in Louisiana all summer long. Last year, we started building the sets early November when the construction coordinator started, and then we started shooting in January so it’s only a couple months to get it all done.” If you ever doubted what a talented crew could do in a couple of months, go visit the Salem set in Grand Cane! LFV

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aton Rouge native Jarred Coates has long been a part of the Louisiana film industry, working on feature films, documentaries, commercials and other projects through his production company, Red Entertainment Group, LLC. His work over the years has brought much acclaim, garnering awards and earning coveted spots at major film festivals around the country.

Drawing on this success, Coates and business partner Lisa Arnold formed a secondary company, Film Incito, to produce content that inspires audiences. “The word ‘incito’ means ‘inspire’ in Latin,” explained Coates. “Faith-oriented and family-friendly films are our focus. We want audiences to leave the theater uplifted and encouraged. We want our films to have an impactful message while entertaining with a good story.” For Coates, this venture was destined to become reality. “As an educator and pastor and later a filmmaker, I have always desired to work on projects that bring others closer to God and the teachings of the Bible,” he said. “Making Lisa Arnold and Jarred Coates films that are inspirational encompasses all my past experiences and training. I believe all my small steps have brought me to this place and I am thankful to be right where I am.” Film Incito has already produced a number of films, including God’s Not Dead, Christmas Angel, and the recent feature Caged No More, which deals with the harsh reality of human trafficking. “Caged No More was important to make because human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in America and throughout the world,” said Coates. “Most people believe that it could never affect them or their children. Unfortunately, this is not true. Educating our youth, both girls and boys, is crucial. Calling others to fight for the freedom of those who have no voice is needed. We can make a difference.” Coates explained that Caged No More was created in such a way that parents can view the film with their children and use it as a “springboard for discussing the dangers of sex trafficking that are real in today’s society.”

On the set of Caged No More

Film Incito also has two feature films currently in the works: Beautifully Broken and One Nation Under God. “Beautifully Broken is based on a true story of three families who come together to support one another through life’s hardships, one being the Rwandan genocide. This powerful story is written by a group of Nashville producers who are excited to see this project become a reality,” said Coates. “The other film, One Nation Under God, is a family film addressing our freedom of religion and the controversy that has divided our country.” When reading scripts and choosing film projects, Coates said he looks for “a story that moves me and glorifies God.” This is also the mission behind his non-profit, Red Pearl Mission, which aims to help incarcerated men and women and at-risk youth find God, using film as a ministry tool. “Serving for a time as the director of City of Faith, a community corrections center, I saw the need for Bible studies that were more true to life for inmates,” explained Coates. “Film has a unique way of offering subject matter in raw and edgy ways. With Red Pearl Mission, I can provide high quality ministry tools for use in correction facilities and beyond.” The first short film and corresponding study guide produced by Red Pearl Mission is Classic Restoration, a powerful, modern-day retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Set in the American Southwest, the film tells the story of Jose Gonzales and his journey into a lifestyle of selfish and empty decadence and his return, out of heartbreak and despair, to his father’s house. “We have several amazing scripts ready for production,” said Coates. “We are hoping to reach those without a voice who need to know of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.” Visit and for more information.






hroughout his decades-long career in ministry, Bishop T. D. Jakes has touched millions of lives around the globe, influencing Christendom through his sermons, books, conferences and, perhaps surprisingly, films.

For the past 20 years, Jakes has served as CEO of his media and entertainment firm TDJ Enterprises, which specializes in producing inspirational films, music, television and live events. The firm has produced such films as Heaven is for Real, Black Nativity, Sparkle, and Derrick Williams this spring’s box office hit Miracles from Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah. Derrick Williams, who serves as Executive Vice President of Film and Entertainment at TDJ Enterprises, has been beside Jakes every step of the way as the company has blossomed from humble beginnings to a media empire. “My connection with TDJE dates back to the very beginning when Bishop Jakes was first entering the entertainment world and staging plays nationally,” said Williams. “We started with a play based on his 1992 best-selling book, Woman, Thou Art Loosed and the success of that project led to more stage plays which turned into future film and television opportunities. Over time, my position in the company evolved into various roles focusing on the development and production of entertainment properties, which eventually led to me assuming the role as the EVP of Bishop Jakes’ film and entertainment division.” On any given production, Williams is involved from concept to completion. He has a hand in everything from choosing the project, to ushering it through the development and production stages, to spearheading marketing and distribution efforts, all with one goal in mind: to transform the world of entertainment through innovative, faith-rich, family-oriented content. “In a world where people face so much pain and discouragement on a regular basis, we believe that stories that spread messages of faith and wholesome values will ultimately help to inspire, empower and remind people to have hope,” said Williams. “It is also a way for us to extend the work that is done on Sunday in a way that is broader and can attract larger audiences.” Williams explained that TDJE’s films are not solely targeted at the built-in Christian audience, but are created to appeal to a wider base. “Given that our roots are based in the faith world, our films will naturally appeal to the faith community, but we also want to ensure that they appeal to those who may not share in our beliefs 58 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


but who also desire to see stories that are redemptive, uplifting and simply make you feel good after watching them,” he said. “Diversity is also key. Our world is filled with people from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures and we understand how important it is for our audiences to see stories that reflect our diverse experiences. We have historically been attracted to stories that are unique and that broaden the awareness of moviegoers. In the future, you will see even more diverse casting, and a wide array of stories coming from TDJ Enterprises.” The issue of diversity in Hollywood (or lack thereof) came to the forefront again recently with the controversy over this year’s Oscar nominations. Williams expounded on this, saying, “The Oscars simply showcased to the viewing public a fact that those within the industry have known for some time. Chris Rock said it best: We all want opportunity.” He continued, “On the small screen, the popularity of reality TV has reduced the number of scripted shows, which also creates a crisis of sorts for all actors. Because of the lack of opportunity, you see a lot more actors of color taking control of their careers by writing, producing or directing their own projects. More women are starting production companies. Creative people will always find creative ways to share their talents. Nevertheless, we firmly believe in diversity and attempt to showcase those unheard and underrepresented voices in everything that we do. “I’m happy to say that TDJ Enterprises has always been a champion for diversity. From the beginning, we have made a strong effort to make sure our projects included a diverse group of talent, producers, directors, etc. When you look at our body of work, from our first film to our most recent film, Miracles From Heaven—directed by a female Latina director—you will see that we have always hired a diverse group of producers and actors and we will continue to do so moving forward on all future projects.” Indeed, the future holds great things for TDJ Enterprises’ growing empire. Currently in the works is Prepared for a Purpose, a Lifetime/Sony TV movie about Antoinette Tuff, a real-life hero who talked a gunman down during a potential school shooting, and Bishop Jakes’ very own talk show, set to begin airing this fall. Visit for more information on current and upcoming projects.

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s a filmmaker or producer, you want your film to reach the widest audience possible in order to ensure success. The more eyeballs you get, the greater financial reward, generally speaking.

But when putting together a marketing plan for a film, there’s one significant audience segment that is often left out of the equation: The estimated 100 million Christians in the United States who are searching for appropriate media content for their families. This quickly growing, often misunderstood audience is becoming one of the most important segments for production companies to reach—if only they knew how. That’s where Mastermedia International comes in. Founded by Dr. Larry Poland in 1985, the organization offers insight into the widely diverse and ever-expanding Christian market, helping production companies understand this audience and what they’re looking for in terms of entertainment. Dr. Poland founded the organization after long careers in both the Christian higher education and international services fields. “In 1979, I was challenged by my then-boss to consider doing something positive from a faith perspective in Hollywood,” explained Dr. Poland. “I expressed no interest whatsoever, but I did agree to give it some thought and prayer and do six months of research to learn about the industry. Over those six months, I talked to everyone in the industry, Christian or not, to figure out where they were coming from. I fell in love with the people. It’s a fascinating industry; it’s never boring. The people are bright and creative, seeking to get the most out of life.” But where many people in this devoutly secular industry go wrong, he said, is that they place too much importance on being rich and powerful. “An ego-centered view tends to dominate,” he explained.

So Dr. Poland founded Mastermedia International with the intention of being a consultant for Hollywood- and New York-based media companies looking to expand their reach. “We started with a very clear ethos,” he said. “We’re not here to ask favors; we’re not Bible thumpers. We’re here to share love, care and professional consulting on a huge and invisible market of consumers calling themselves Evangelicals. For all these years we’ve been sharing the message that you’re missing a huge market: 100 million Christians who consume just as much pop culture and media as those not of the Christian faith.” Mastermedia started out offering a seminar to production executives who needed help targeting this audience, addressing the foundations of what Evangelicals believe and analyzing how those beliefs influence the kinds of media and entertainment they enjoy. “We laid out a presentation demystifing the Evangelicals,” explained Dr. Poland. “It was so well received that we upgraded it with help from BBDO ad agency, and took it on the road. We’ve given the seminar to 25 of the biggest and most powerful media companies in the world.” These include such clients as Time-Life, HBO, MTV, AMC, Variety, ESPN, Hallmark, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, and CNN. “That’s the way we got started and to this day, it’s still very well received,” he said. “Over the past 30 years, we have been granted access at the highest levels of the industry. God has given us tremendous access and favor to help these companies be successful, expanding their reach to 100 million people that they don’t know anything about. We’re helping them reach a huge constituency.” One of the reasons Mastermedia has gained such credibility with the studios is their strategy of “consulting, encouraging and supporting.” Dr. Poland explained that “anger strategies”—like boycotts, protests, and letter and email campaigns—are rarely successful. Such strategies are not likely to influence their target or change anyone’s mind. “We know their game,” said Dr. Poland, referring to organizations that tend to employ these types of strategies. “They get something in their craw, mobilize their constituents, and then ask those constituents to send a check to their organization.” ISSUE ONE 2016



He continued, “Those strategies are counter-productive and not keeping with the ethos of the founder of our faith, Jesus Christ. Love, care, interest and non-exploitation goes farther. Unconditional love is an offense for which there is no effective defense. That’s been our story.” As the Christian-themed and family-friendly markets continue to expand, Mastermedia’s consulting services are becoming more important than ever. Dr. Poland name-checked a couple of recent productions that tried to get on the Christian programming bandwagon and ultimately failed because they didn’t understand the audience. For example, although the 2014 epic feature film Noah, starring Russell Crowe, did well at the box office, many Christian filmgoers called it misguided, and at worst, blasphemous. “The film was so convoluted that people didn’t really like it,” said Dr. Poland. “The production company really didn’t know the audience and didn’t hire anyone who knew the audience. Basically, they didn’t know what they didn’t know.” But Dr. Poland is heartened by the number of quality faith-oriented films being released that have good storytelling, humor, drama, and production value. He is particularly excited about the upcoming film Ben-Hur, from producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, which he said will include explicit faith aspects that the original 1959 film left out. Burnett and Downey also produced the Emmy Award-winning TV miniseries The Bible for the History Channel, which was adapted into the



successful 2014 film Son of God. “I think Ben-Hur will be a smash,” he said. “It’s a very powerful epic film to begin with, and it will also have incredible special effects and production value—the chariot race will knock your socks off.” The ongoing success that Burnett and Downey have found with these types of projects is a telling sign that there’s a broad market and a continuing hunger for Christian-themed entertainment that isn’t preachy but is still inspirational and faith-affirming. “The market will never be oversaturated if we continue to have content that is well produced and has enough cross-over,” said Dr. Poland. “And compelling storytelling. Good storytelling always trumps everything else—stars, special effects, everything. One of my favorite Christian producers says, ‘It’s gotta make you laugh, it’s gotta make you cry, and it’s gotta make you care about the characters.’” Mastermedia is in the midst of its 30th anniversary and recently held a conference and gala in celebration of the organization’s accomplishments, featuring personal insights and endorsements from a number of prominent media professionals. It’s clear that Mastermedia has had a tremendous impact on entertainment over the last three decades and with the enthusiasm for faith-oriented content stronger than ever, it seems that their work is just getting started. LFV Visit for more.




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n March 5 & 6, Loyola University held their inaugural Loyola-NOLA Feminist Film Festival. Hosted by Loyola’s Women’s Resource Center in honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the festival also partnered with Women in Film and Television-Louisiana (WIFT). On Saturday, student films and selected national and international short films were shown. On Sunday, the short films included winners of the 11th annual Women in Film and Television International Short-Case and an exclusive showing of entries to the showcase from WIFT-Louisiana members. A reception followed the screenings.

WIFTI is a global network of 40 member chapters worldwide with more than 10,000 individual members. Past Short-Case short films have been nominated for Director Victoria Greene with Forgotten Bayou Academy Awards, received distriProduction Coordinator Gabrielle Gatto bution deals, and garnered other recognition globally. a Canon 5d Mark III and edited with According to WIFTI ShortAdobe Premiere Pro. I also included Case Producer Carol Bidault drone and helicopter shots in the film,” de l’Isle, the films were selected explained Greene. from nearly 1400 international Greene has been busy with the submissions. A jury of industry sinkhole project. For the past 3 years professionals judged finalists from Q and A with WIFT filmmakers at the Loyola-NOLA Feminist Film Festival she has also been working on a feature 34 chapters; the winners received documentary Forgotten Bayou which is a cash prize. WIFT-Louisiana member, Director Victoria Greene, currently in post production. won the WIFTI competition in the documentary category for her “I produced and directed Forgotten Bayou, a documentary that short film Monster in the Bayou, about the sinkhole at Bayou Corne, captures the resilience of a quaint, bayou community located in the Louisiana. Director Dawn Mikkelson of Minnesota WIFT also won middle of the Southern Louisiana swamps,” said Greene. “It illusfor her documentary Shaping the Public by tying with Greene. Other trates how an ongoing man-made disaster, the Bayou Corne Sinkwinners of the WIFTI 2016 Short-Case included Best Narrative hole, has affected this community and our environment. Forgotten Film, Director Monda Webb of the Washington, DC WIFT for Zoo Bayou is currently being prepped for fall film festival submissions. (Volkerschau) and Best Animation, Director Zainab Zaher of WIFT We are planning a very cool fundraiser event late spring and will be Germany, for I Want to be Shahmama. running a Kickstarter campaign in May. Additionally, we will have Winning documentary filmmaker Victoria Greene has been a booth during Earth Day Louisiana being held in Baton Rouge on passionate about the sinkhole at Bayou Corne for sometime now. April 17th and are very excited to be participating in this event.” “Monster in the Bayou is a stand alone short film created last Of course Greene is eager to point out the other Louisiana year about WIFT members who had films in the showcase including Daneeta the Bayou Loretta Jackson, Andrea Kuehnel, Cindi Knapton, Dawn Streek, Corne SinkSteph Smith, and Shena Mullins. Mullins also served as the Loyola hole and Feminist Film Festival Executive Director. the effects “We had a broad range of submissions from experimental animaon the comtion to dramatic narrative. It was an exciting debut,” said Mullins. munity. The “Winning this WIFTI award is very sweet and so special,” said majority Greene. “It’s my first. To be acknowledged from a pool of many accomplished and talented women filmmakers from throughout (L-R) Filmmaker Victoria Greene with famous environmental of the film activist Erin Brockovich was shot on the world, is humbling and a tremendous honor.” LFV ISSUE ONE 2016



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t’s a great script… until you stumble upon the scene with that dog, cat, horse, pig, or snake. Don’t let the animals intimidate you. Many roles can be filled by well trained animal actors and their human handlers. Here are some tips for directors and anyone working with animals on a set. “If a director is auditioning for a trainable animal, such as a dog, cat, or horse, they should be looking for an animal that is responsive to the trainer’s commands and direction. The trainer should be able to confidently perform a repertoire of routines showing the range of ability the animal has. They should also show that the animal is proficient in the skills necessary to perform the intended role. If the director is seeking a non-trainable animal, such as a snake, spider, or fish, the director should look for a handler who can show the ability

to manipulate this type of animal and move in the desired way as required by the script,” says animal handler Jean Manino. Manino is an authority. Her animal actors have appeared in film, television and commercials. While Manino does work with a variety of animals, she has over 35 years of experience working professionally with dogs and has obtained every title offered by the American Kennel Club. “Since the director and producer can’t communicate directly with the animal, be clear on what needs to happen in the scene with the trainer, and assist the trainer if at all possible,” continues Manino. “Keep in mind that the animal is performing the required task for the first time on that particular set. When an animal is working in a scene, he is not taking cues from the actor but instead responding to the trainer who is just off camera. In most cases, the actor should not try to direct or redirect the animal but just do the part as if the animal were not there.” “Just as twins are often used with child actors and stunt doubles fill in for the main character, animal doubles are frequently used. In addition to relieving the workload on the individual, many times similar animals have different abilities and are trained to perform completely different tasks,” explains Manino. Manino stresses the importance of communication between the director and the trainer or handler. “A workday can be anywhere from 4 hours to 14 hours. The animal is not actually working for that entire time. Normally, there is a room on set that is designated for the actors, animals included, where they, like their human counterparts, have a sofa or bed, a/c, heat, food and water. If this is not available, then the production company motorhome should be made available. The trainer or handler usually provides all the support needed for their animal; however, there should always be people on set asking the handler or trainer if anything is needed. It’s also important to note that when working with horses for long hours, space is needed for a portable corral with a covered lean-to that the trainer usually provides. The trainer should also provide the hay and feed.” Don’t be intimidated on your next project just because the script calls for DOG to swim out of the lake and shake his wet fur all over LEAD ACTOR. Just like you trust the actors you cast, casting an animal actor in your next film is no different. Hire a professional animal actor… and you’ll have great results! LFV ISSUE ONE 2016



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nce again, the city of Lafayette invaded Austin, Texas, for SXSW to showcase Lafayette filmmaking, music and technology. At their annual party there, they also recruit business to Lafayette. Sponsored by Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission (LCVC), Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), CGI Technologies and Solutions, Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse, Festival Acadiens et Creole, Southern Screen Film Festival, and Lafayette Entertainment Initiative (LEI), the Lafayette community has been bringing together organizations and members of the local community to promote each other at SXSW for the past 15 years. While Austin is only a six hour drive from Lafayette, the trip there for SXSW is important since the festival garners national recognition from the media as Brass Bed plays at Lafayette Live at SXSW well as the music, filmmaking, video game, and tech industries.

Bringing crawfish to attendees at SXSW

On March 16, 2016 at the Continental Club in Austin, the annual Lafayette LIVE party debuted with music by Drew Landry, Kevin Sekhani, Brass Bed, and Ray Boudreaux. The event also featured film clips and trailers from Lafayette filmmakers. Lafayette local flavor was literally imported with a festive crawfish boil. While Chris Stelly from the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) was also at SXSW trying to recruit businesses in the tech sector to the state, Lafayette LIVE was the event that literally and figuratively gave attendees something to chew on! LFV





I Left to right: Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams and director Marc Abraham.

“Hank Williams’ life was not only extraordinary even in terms of what a young man goes through in a brief time, but he was a brilliant artist who not only changed contemporary music, but had an impact on literature,” says Abraham. “Men in the 1940’s weren’t singing songs like ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.’ Bing Crosby wasn’t talking about crying.” “When I decided to make a film about Hank’s life, I was intent on telling the story through the window of his relationships with powerful women, his physical pain and his most human flaws—to show the passion and always-chaotic emotional life behind the curtain,” continues Abraham. “I feel it’s only by exposing his inner turmoil that you can truly understand what drove his lyrics, music and explosive performances. The truth is (that) Hank Williams’ downfalls were his inspirations.” “I have been a fan of country music since I was an eight-yearold kid growing up in Kentucky,” explains Abraham. “When I was a college student I wrote a paper about the influence of the genre on American culture. It focused on Hank Williams, a man many have called one of this country’s greatest poets as well as the first ‘rock star,’ even to the point of living hard and dying young. His indelible imprint on today’s music world has not diminished in over 60 years. I’m not sure how many people truly understand how influential (he was). Certainly (Bob) Dylan understands it. (Bruce) Springsteen understands it. Neil Young understands it.” I Saw the Light definitely captures the rise to fame. From screaming fans to elaborate costumes to the partying lifestyle, Tom Hiddleston embodies Hank Williams and that rock star spirit. “In my own way, I wanted to make a film that felt like a song. I studied just about every movie ever made about musicians. The ones that resonated emotionally and cinematically stayed away from psychological examination,” says Abraham. “I had no interest in trying to analyze Hank Williams through his drinking or his childhood. To me that would be like trying to explain how Bob 68 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE


n our coverage of I Saw the Light, in conjunction with its premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival (Issue 5, 2015), we heard from actor Tom Hiddleston about his mesmerizing portrayal of Hank Williams. As I Saw the Light finally releases to theaters nationwide in April (making it eligible for 2017 Oscars), Louisiana Film & Video Magazine looks at writer/director Marc Abraham’s work on this fascinating biopic.

Left to right: Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams and Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.

Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota, whose father ran a furniture store, became Bob Dylan.” Abraham continues, “I Saw the Light tells Williams’ story as truthfully and accurately as possible. It doesn’t manipulate events or make up scenes to illustrate his talent. It delves into the people, the actual places, and the simple everyday moments that made him who he was. Then came the music. The leap from the one to the other is, for me, where all the power lies.” “‘Cold Cold Heart’ isn’t a song written on a scrap of paper by a man looking for a hit. It is a song lived by a man whose wife had an abortion without telling him and then blamed him for it,” explains Abraham. “One of Hank’s last recordings was ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart.’ This was shortly after his second divorce from Audrey was final. It is a brilliant example of how Williams used his personal experience

to relate to every man and woman.” Abraham fully recognized Hank’s tragic side, fraught with demons and the substance abuse that prematurely ended his life at age 29. Other music giants, he notes, suffered similar fates. “Hank crashed before (doomed jazz man) Charlie Parker. There were some old blues guys (who died similarly), but not somebody at the lofty peak Hank was at, no one in that spot had gone down with that kind of ferocity,” says Abraham. Though Abraham felt he had a deep understanding of Williams’ music and had done extensive research into his entire life, he deliberately avoided the cradle-to-the-grave approach followed by many musical and non-musical biopics. “To be frank, I was never very interested in the early years of Hank’s life,” notes Abraham. “I really cared about being supremely accurate and authentic, but I was dedicated to a different style of film. My influences had been Bob Fosse or what Scorsese did with Raging Bull. I’m not comparing myself to those masters, but I loved the way they rendered their biographical films.” Of star Tom Hiddleston, who actually sings every note in the film, Abraham says, “He’s an amazing actor and truly I cannot imagine anyone, anywhere more dedicated. For me, I just cast the guy I thought could do it. I never imagined, honestly, Tom could bring to life what he did in the way he did.” Abraham also singles out Elizabeth Olsen, who portrays Hank’s musically challenged wife Audrey, calling her portrayal “amazing,” adding, “Even though her character of Audrey wasn’t really much of a vocalist, Elizabeth’s actually quite a good singer. And she had to work hard to not sound great.” The director came up with the idea of having the character of Fred Rose, Hank’s producer and song publisher, portrayed by Bradley Whitford, be a narrator. Abraham explains, “This allowed me to indulge in more realistic dialogue and avoid exposition and, at the same time, have him (Rose) occupy a real space in the movie as a patron and father figure.” Abraham is equally effusive about the portrayal of Hank’s band, the Drifting Cowboys, noting, “Every one of those boys are musicians. Everyone who’s playing in there is actually playing. I don’t have to cut away. For the most part they’re not even actors except for Casey (Jerry Rivers) and Josh (Sammy Pruett), a little bit. Wes, who plays Don Helms, works in a guitar store.”

Left to right: Casey Bond as Jerry Rivers, Joshua Brady as Sammy Pruett, Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams and Wesley Robert Langlois as Dom Helms.

Left to right: Director Marc Abraham and Tom Hiddleston.

Abraham was impressed by the film’s Executive Music Producer Rodney Crowell, who produced the sharp, accurate re-recordings of actor Tom Hiddleston doing Hank’s recordings. A veteran Nashville singer, songwriter and producer, Crowell grew up surrounded by traditional country music in his native Texas. He became a major artist and vital part of country’s 1980’s New Traditionalist movement, racking up five #1 singles late in that decade. He shared Abraham’s passion for doing it right. Abraham recalls Crowell’s authenticity, “We recorded on old instruments. We recorded this stuff in the round (one microphone to capture the entire group of singers). We used (old-time tube) amplifiers. You can’t get more real than our tracks.” That passion extends to the film’s aesthetic as well. “If you look at Meredith Boswell’s production design, it’s not trying to draw attention to itself, and it’s so subtly accurate,” Abraham explains. That’s the fabric that weaves the soul into the film as well. Color home movies of Hank’s actual 1953 funeral end the film. “It’s incredible footage,” says Abraham enthusiastically. “We got it from the grandson of the guy who shot it. His granddaddy was a policeman.” Abraham stresses, “I’ve often been aware that when some people think of country music and the (Grand Ole) Opry, they think these people are a bunch of hicks. They’re not. They’re polite and courtly, but they didn’t fall off a turnip truck. Just because they talk with an accent doesn’t mean they don’t know what time it is. And look at the plethora of songs that the genre has given us, the sheer artistic might of country.” “I wanted people to realize that Hank’s influence was beyond Nashville, or Montgomery, Dallas or Macon,” continues Abraham. “It wasn’t just something that took place out on a farm. That’s why it was so important to me to show Hank in Hollywood and in Germany on tour. He played five TV shows in New York. This isn’t Hee-Haw.” ISSUE ONE 2016



Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.

Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.

“I always try to remain subtle. Sometimes too much so, but when it came to Hank, I just wanted to do him true and right,” concludes the writer/director. Indeed, Marc Abraham and his stellar cast and crew does it right. Audiences will be entertained by the score of I Saw the Light. From “Hey Good Lookin’” to “Honky Tonkin’” to “Jambalaya,” Hank Williams’ tunes sung perfectly by Hiddleston are a delight alone; combined with the brilliant artistry of production and costume design and the exquisite images by cinematographer Dante Spinotti, ASC, who has been nominated twice for Oscars and has won a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), I Saw the Light is truly art house cinema. LFV

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