FREE STATE OF JONES Matthew McConaughey & Director Gary Ross Shoot in LA’s Swamps
TV’s ROOTS Gets Social 4TH ANNUAL LIFF 2016 Recap
LOUISIANA’s TAX CREDITS: The Talk of the Town
NAB Explores The Future Of Virtual Reality
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VOLUME 13 ISSUE TWO EDITORS-IN-CHIEF W. H. Bourne, Odin Lindblom ASSOCIATE EDITOR Katie Sauro CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jay Crest, A. K. Farmer, Sandi Gerdes, T. Hopper, Meg Alsfeld Kaul, Susie Labry, James Mercel, Steve Nestor CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Sandi Gerdes, Steve Nestor, Amy Ransow GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Katie Higgins SALES Steve Joseph, Larry Hinze PRODUCTION MANAGER Sonjia Kells PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker DESIGNERS Sam Rockwell, Liz Weickum WEBMASTER Jon Hines OFFICE MANAGER Audra Higgins
(L to R) Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, Director Mario Van Peebles, Forest Whitaker as The Fiddler, and Emayatzy Corinealdi as Belle in Roots on the History Channel. PHOTO BY STEVE DEITL COURTESY OF HISTORY 6
37 NAB 2016 Expansion Includes A New VR Pavilion
Roots Gets Social
41 StudioDaily Honors Louisiana Local at NAB 2016
13 4th Annual LIFF Continues To Entertain Despite Tragic Loss 15 2016 LIFF Lagniappe 17 With My Soul Wins At LIFF 2016 18 My Father, Die: Artful Grit At LIFF 21 Louisiana Locales Hit the Big Screen at CinemaCon
45 History and Authenticity in Free State of Jones 48 Free State of Jones: Liberating Actors 52 Free State of Jones: A Local’s Perspective 55 Shooting in Louisiana: Free State of Jones 58 Let’s Focus on the Good: Positive Changes to the Tax Credit Program Since 2015
26 New Orleans Indie Feature People Premieres in Dallas
61 Is DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Edit Ready?
29 Location, Location, Locations
63 Filmmakers Observe Autism Awareness Month with Understood?
35 NAB 2016 Focuses on VR and HDR but Ang Lee Plans to Bring Both to Feature Film
64 Indie Feature Cut Off Wraps Production 66 Senate Meets to Review Louisiana Film Industry Tax Credits
ON THE COVER: (L-R) Matthew McConaughey as Newt Knight and Mahershala Ali as Moses in the historical epic Free State of Jones which releases nationwide in theaters on June 24, 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF STX PRODUCTIONS LLC Correction: Last issue’s photo of Anthony Mackie as the ﬁrst African American King of the Krewe of Bacchus was credited incorrectly. The photo was by Joan Judycki courtesy of White and Black.
DIGITAL EDITION AVAILABLE AT: WWW.LOUISIANAFILMANDVIDEO.COM 4 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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Additional Photo Processing by Wéland Bourne
43 ‘Rock Bottom and Back’ to Hit Shelves, TV Screens
23 Reversing the Mississippi Revisited
33 New Orleans Film Society Gala Provides Food and Fun For Attendees Including NCIS Honorees
INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn
LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO PUBLICATIONS A DIVISION OF MEDIA INC PUBLISHING GROUP (800) 332-1736 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com www.louisianaﬁlmandvideo.com www.louisianaproductionindex.com 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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Pam Glorioso, CFC email@example.com ISSUE TWO 2016 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE 5
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
s Editor of Louisiana Film & Video Magazine, I often get asked about Louisiana’s tax credit program for ﬁlm and television. This is particularly true when I am attending events on the west coast. Likewise, I also like to get people’s perceptions and misconceptions about the program. Right now, Louisiana has a very serious public relations issue in the eyes of the ﬁlm industry.
Even though we have the state, ﬁlm commissioners and tax credit brokers all claiming the ﬁlm tax credits are more generous than ever, we have crew members moving to Atlanta and ﬁlm related businesses shuttering. I would encourage you to read our coverage from the AFCI Locations Show, from the recent State Senate Hearing, and our interview with Free State of Jones Director/ Producer Gary Ross on his perspective on shooting in Louisiana. Local producer Pedro Lucero even asked me to tell the state to, “ﬁx our tax credits,” during our interview! At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, I was speaking with one of RED’s technicians who had ﬂown in from Atlanta just for the show. He had left the set of Guardians of the Galaxy II to be at NAB. He went on to talk about how he had
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to return to Atlanta to ﬁnish that shoot and then move on to Spiderman and then to Fast and Furious. Many of the tentpoles appear to have moved to Atlanta. In fact, Disney/Marvel has contracts to shoot ﬁve of their next ﬁlms there. On July 1, the moratorium on state buyback of the tax credits will be removed. It will be interesting to see how quickly the state hits its ﬁlm credit cap. This alone could create more negative PR for the state’s ﬁlm credit program. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the politics and the rhetoric, at the end of the day what we’re really talking about are people and jobs. On a related note, the rules for low budget ($50,000 – $299,999) ﬁlms are still not ﬁnalized, and it is one year since the amendments to Louisiana’s ﬁlm tax credits went into effect. The promise to locals of supporting indigenous, low budget ﬁlmmaking is still an empty one. I don’t want to end on a solemn note so let me just say that we have some great content in this issue: coverage of this year’s Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) including several ﬁlms that played there, the New Orleans Film Society Gala, CinemaCon, the NAB Show, the Locations Show, Roots, an in depth look at Free State of Jones, and so much more! I hope you enjoy it. As always, we welcome your feedback and comments. W. H. BOURNE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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Silla Ba Dibba (Derek Luke) Forest Whitaker as Fiddler
(L-R) Kizzy (Anika Noni Rose) and Alex Haley (Laurence Fishburne)
(L-R) Mingo (Chad L. Coleman), Chicken George (Regé-Jean Page) and Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)
(L-R) Dr. William Waller (Matthew Goode) and Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby)
Nancy Holt (Anna Paquin)
ROOTS GETS SOCIAL STORY BY T. HOPPER PHOTOS BY STEVE DEITL, CASEY CRAFFORD, AND MICHELE SHORT COURTESY OF HISTORY
ast year, Roots shot across southern Louisiana including Baton Rouge, the River Parishes and St. Francisville. The cast spans the gamut from new performers to Academy Award winners and nominees to Golden Globe and Grammy winners. Many local actors were cast as either background talent or in minor speaking roles. Paul Buccieri, President of A&E and HISTORY, recently talked about Roots which premiered on Memorial Day 2016, airing over four consecutive nights. Based on the bestselling book by Alex Haley, the four-night, eight-hour event series is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship. Buccieri believes that HISTORY's re-imagining “is able to bring new life to this powerful story that remains as important today as it did when the original Roots ﬁrst premiered. Roots will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both inspiring and tremendously entertaining.” HISTORY is serious about creating a dialogue, and the cast will be engag-
Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) and Co-Executive Producer LeVar Burton, who originated the role of Kunta Kinte in the original Roots in 1977. ISSUE TWO 2016
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Roots Author and narrator Alex Haley (Laurence Fishburne) Jinna (Simona Brown)
Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby)
ing with audiences via Twitter about the show. At least 14 cast members will be participating including Malachi Kirby (Kunta Kinte), Derek Luke (Silla Ba Dibba), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Tom Lea), Grammy Award winner Tip â€œT.I.â€? Harris (Cyrus), Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Kizzy) and Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin. There is no doubt about the impact the original series had. It will be interesting to see if social media can engage a wider audience and broaden the conversation. â€œNearly 40 years ago I had the privilege to be a part of an epic television event that started an important conversation in America,â€? said LeVar Burton, the actor who portrayed Kunta Kinte in the original Roots (1977) and now the Co-Executive Producer in this re-make. â€œI am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever." LFV
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4th Annual LIFF CONTINUES TO ENTERTAIN DESPITE TRAGIC LOSS STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM AND AMY RANSOW
his year’s Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge featured 5 days of programming which showcased more than 70 ﬁlms including some world premieres.
The newly created Southern Perspective category for features was a welcome addition providing more opportunities for local ﬁlmmakers to screen at LIFF. LIFF 2016 hosted over 30 ﬁlmmakers in attendance including Executive Producer Christy Turlington Burns (Giving Birth in America) and star Kelsey Grammer (Breaking the Bank) as well as world-renowned Louisiana-based musicians including Honey Vibe, The Batiste Father and Son of The New Millennium, Renew Cultural Arts Academy, and Princess Shaw (Presenting Princess Shaw). The Festival also treated attendees to food by Chef Sean Rivera of Driftwood Cask and Barrel,
In the queue for a LIFF screening
Chesley Heymsﬁeld, Executive Director of LIFF
street performance by members from the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland & Golden Girls, live painting by TJ Black & Alex Harvie and Frank Venadas, and the popular Mentorship Program which included free makeup and hair services. LIFF announced the Audience Award-winners for 2016 on Sunday night at the Closing Night Gala Reception for the 5-day ﬁlm festival. (Note: There were no jury awards this year.) Winners included Best Feature Film: The Innocents, Audience Award: Presenting Princess Shaw, Best Louisiana Feature Film: My Father, Die, Best Documentary Film: No Greater Love, Best Louisiana Live-Action Short Film: With My Soul, and Best International Live-Action Short Film: Hotel Bleu. There was a tie for Best International Animated Short Film between Cuerdas and A Prank Time. The festival ended on a somber note as Chesley Heymsﬁeld, Founder and Executive Director of LIFF, noted the following about the death of Artistic Director Dan Ireland: “... Our team was eagerly anticipating Dan’s arrival at the 4th annual Louisiana International Film Festival, so when we did not hear from him on
Princess Shaw Performs at the Awards Ceremony
Courtyard at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe
Opening Night, we instinctively knew something was wrong. The last thing I would have ever expected would to be standing in Dan’s place addressing the audience on Closing Night with a memorial to him. The impact of Dan’s passing was made even more poignant by being surrounded with people who have come to know and love him. The outpouring of sympathy for his passing with endless hugs and tears was overwhelming and still continues. No sense can be made from the unexpected loss of a good friend, especially during a time we expected to celebrate the festival together. Dan Ireland left us too soon. Dan was more than our Artistic Director, he was a very dear friend and valued mentor to everyone on our entire team offering his guidance, thoughts, encouragement and laughter. There was a lot of laughter. Dan leaves a legacy that lives within all of those who he touched and inspired.” Ian Birnie, Program Director of LIFF, added, “I am so sorry I couldn’t tell Dan that the attendance at LIFF has doubled this year, screenings are selling out, and there is real energy in the place and on a weekend where my close friend and colleague is being greatly missed. But for the will of God, Dan would have been racing the halls of the Cinemark with me this past weekend urging audiences to clap for themselves and listing the merits of upcoming ﬁlms in true pitchman style. If this small regional festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds this year, has a future, it is due in large part to Dan’s high standards and willingness to dream big on behalf of any project he was involved with...” Despite this adversity, LIFF 2016 was one to remember with great ﬁlms in a fun, festival environment that delivered good times and plenty of networking opportunities. LFV Waiting for a screening to start at LIFF 2016
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2016 LIFF Lagniappe STORY BY T. HOPPER PHOTOS BY AMY RANSOW AND COURTESY OF ZONDA BARNES
veryone’s heard of a haircut and a trim, but a haircut and a ﬁlmmaking class? Talk about Louisiana Lagniappe at this year’s Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF)! Each year LIFF provides educational and mentorship opportunities at their annual media event. This year, activities were spread across Baton Rouge at both Celtic Media Centre and at the festival grounds around Cinemark Perkins Rowe. Producer Matt Cooper gets a
Aveda Mentees with (L-R front row) Haylee Clark, Princess Shaw, and Zonda Barnes
From shooting with iPhones to Arri cameras, the educational workshop offerings were diverse. On the mentorship side, LIFF offered free hair and makeup services to festival attendees. Nationally Certiﬁed Aesthetic trim from an Aveda Mentee “We support LIFF and its mission to inInstructor and a Barber Stylist Zonda Barnes chaired the troduce locals to ﬁlmmaking as well as indepartment. Barnes does hair and makeup for the ﬁlm troduce ﬁlmmakers to Louisiana,” said Patrick Mulhearn, Executive industry and had no problems ﬁnding additional mentors includDirector of Celtic Studios. “We can’t always open up the largest, ing Makeup Liaison Haylee Clark and Master Educator Savonte design-built studio in the Gulf South to the public, but timing was Baptiste. perfect this year. We are always glad to show people what goes on “Savonte is a salon owner of 10 years and currently specializes in behind the studio gates when we can. That is especially true for the cranial prosthesis,” said Barnes. “Haylee is a makeup artist/beauty future ﬁlmmakers who could be working here one day.” blogger, and she is a YSL beauty rep.” Barnes is a big believer in mentorship, in part due to her grassroots training. “My house was the go-to house for all beauty Celtic Studios opened their gates for facility tours. needs. You could come by and get makeup done, a Jerry Curl, haircut, and a plate of food. We never turned anyone away. Later, I graduated from the Aveda Institute in Louisiana where I received my Aesthetics license in 2000. From there, I focused on continuing my education.” “Mentorship is very important for a large number of reasons. I will mention a few,” continued Barnes. “Mentors offer a huge opportunity to gain knowledge with hands on sessions if you’re up close. Mentors can nurture a protégé’s strength and assist them in crushing their challenges. Mentors can offer wisdom to help guide mentees in decision making for building their own Patrick Mulhearn, Executive Director of Celtic Studios brand or business.” “I visited the Aveda Institute to share the (LIFF mentorship) opportunity with Brittany, the instructor,” recalled Barnes. “She called me back the very same day and rolled out a number of students that were very excited to jump in on the positions open.” “I personally enjoyed heading up the department and had a blast getting it done,” added Barnes. “Princess Shaw (the subject of the LIFF Audience Award Presenting Princess Shaw) offered live entertainment while we worked. Attendees including LIFF Documentary Award winning ﬁlmmakers James and Elizabeth Daigle (No Greater Love) really enjoyed the convenience of our makeup trailer throughout the 5-day festival.” If you missed the educational and mentorship opportunities at LIFF this year, there’s always next year. LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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WITH MY SOUL
WINS AT LIFF 2016 STORY BY AK FARMER PHOTOS BY AMY RANSOW
hile the screening of With My Soul was packed with talent including many cast members as well as director Alexander Jeffery, cinematographer Joel Froome, and screenwriter Kay Landon, it was lone actor Susie Labry who had the honor of accepting the award at LIFF 2016 for Best Louisiana Short Film. When the winner was announced at the festival, it was late on Sunday night. “It was very exciting! Everyone cheered; they (festival attendees) hugged and congratulated me,” says actress Susie Labry. “I congratulated Jency Hogan (producer) and Kay Landon (screenwriter) and mentioned that it was an honor to be a part of their ﬁlm and their great team.” Landon remembers, “Ms. Susie called me and said they were about to announce the winners. Writer Kay Landon and Actress She was very excited and wanted Susie Labry me to drive up, but I didn’t think I could get there in time. Then she called me right back and announced that we had won. She was very excited and also maybe a little overwhelmed that she needed to give the acceptance speech, which I’m sure she did very well.” “I was shocked, actually,” continues Landon. “I wasn’t expecting to win because we had won last year (for Madeline’s Oil). I had been at the event earlier that night, but because my parents were in town, I had returned home early. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this amazing ﬁlm team that is a part of my life. They are inspirational in everything they do, and their passion for creating positive ﬁlm is paying off. I am blessed to be a part of this faith-inspired team.” “The idea of making a ﬁlm on human trafﬁcking during the Civil War was Jency’s,” notes Landon. “It was a passion project for her, and we sat down together and talked about ways to bring the concept forward. I had previously written a different short script about a present-day convent rescuing a human trafﬁcked child. In that script, we had a nun grieving the loss of some-
one, and the rescue of the child helped provide a healing for her. This is a topic we had both written about because of my work as a counselor with women who had experienced similar situations and because of Jency’s work on a documentary that addressed the topic. When Jency and I sat down together to talk about our next project, we decided to combine our two concepts. The inspiration was the idea of light. We both felt that if we were to tackle such a hard topic, we wanted the ﬁlm to be about the counterbalance of goodness and light. Jency envisioned the girls quoting scripture, and I added my favorite hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.” “I don’t think the initial draft took very long..,” Landon recalls. “Then Jency and I made changes to it over the next few weeks. I remember receiving phone calls from her with ideas for small changes, and some of the changes were based on who we believed we were casting at the time. We tossed around the idea of casting real women who had experienced trafﬁcking; and then, decisions were made to work with some of our partner actresses whose talent we admire instead. We received great news that someone very well-known wanted to be in the ﬁlm so Screenwriter Kay Landon, Director Alexander we added a part for Jeffery, and Cinematographer Joel Froome him. Then when schedules conﬂicted and he couldn’t be there, we decided we liked the part we had added better... I don’t think the writing is ever ﬁnished until the ﬁlm is shot, and even then, story decisions are made in the editing (of the ﬁlm).” “At the Q & A of the screening of With My Soul at LIFF, it was mentioned that the biggest challenge we faced was the 100 degree heat. I was very impressed with the location and the amount of ﬁlming done in such a short time frame. I was also thankful to our team…and how well we all worked together. It was quite an honor to walk up to the stage and accept the award for the cast and crew,” admits Labry. LFV
The audience at the screening and Q & A of With My Soul at the Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF). ISSUE TWO 2016
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MY FATHER, DIE: ARTFUL GRIT AT LIFF STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY AMY RANSOW ADDITIONAL PHOTO BY ODIN LINDBLOM
ouisiana Film & Video Magazine was a media sponsor at this year's Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF). LIFF selected My Father, Die as our designated screening, a great match since it was an independent ﬁlm shot in Louisiana.
Hot off their premiere screening at SXSW, members of the cast and crew, including local producer Pedro Lucero, attended LIFF. Writer/director/producer Sean Brosnan and his wife, producer Sanja Producer Pedro Lucero at the Q &A of Banic, were grounded in My Father, Die Los Angeles with their young infant Marley; however, Brosnan wanted to be at the fest so much that he participated in the Q & A after the screening via cell phone. Louisiana Film & Video Magazine recently had the opportunity to interview both Lucero and Brosnan in depth. “My Father, Die is loosely based off an Irish play, Playboy of the Western World, by J. M. Synge. It was...ﬁrst performed at the Abbey Theater in Ireland in 1907. Basically, two days of rioting occurred afterward because it was so controversial with its satirical commentary on the Catholic Church and patricide,” explains writer/ director/producer Sean Brosnan. “It is one of my favorite plays, and I always wanted to adapt it. So I took the father-son relationship from the play and made it my own.” “I wanted to set it in the bayou; I wanted the son to be an alligator hunter, and his father to be head of a biker gang,” continues Brosnan. “It plays like a comedy. I mean there is humor there, very dark, dark humor, and I knew that I wanted to make something poetic, very beautiful, extremely gritty, and not apologetic, just in your face. I also wanted to use Lucero helps Brosnan participate by phone. 16th century paintings as act breaks like Saturn Devouring his Son by Peter Paul Rubens … Everything is in there for a reason as it should be, but the act breaks with the paintings are symbolic of what's about to happen or what has just happened. It's interesting because when I was re-reading the play, I was also reading Sigmund Freud's Totem and Taboo which he wrote in 1913, and it's a weird sort of collective consciousness that these two men tapped into, writing about the same things from two different countries…” “Sanja and Sean were in New Orleans, and they were scouting for the ﬁlm,” recalls producer Pedro Lucero. “I got a phone call from a mutual friend of ours who said he told them (Sean and Sanja), 'If you need to know your way around New Orleans, this is 18 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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the guy you need to talk to especially for the budget you're trying to pull off '... It turns out that Mississippi was trying to scoop the ﬁlm from right under Louisiana. The irony of all this is that I was in the middle of ﬁlming Renée Zellweger's Same Kind of Different as Me in Jackson, Mississippi. (I actually have a big role in it. I play one of the main homeless people.)” After a half day in Mississippi, Sean and Sanja texted Pedro and told him that they had decided to shoot in the New Orleans area. “I showed him all of Ponchatoula and Hammond and that's where we ended up ﬁlming almost the whole thing,” says Lucero. “We did also shoot sequences at John's (Schneider Studios in Holden). It's a great controlled environment there. Essentially, everything we shot was between Livingston and Hammond. Because I helped them scout, it also made sense for me to be the locations manager.” Brosnan remembers, “We were scouting his (John Schneider's) property, and I was like, 'Wait a minute, John would make a great Detective Johnson.' John read it and was into it so John is in the ﬁlm. And it was ironic because I had chosen this 1971 Dodge Charger muscle car, that I had written into the script, and it was just serendipitous that all of a sudden John Schneider from Dukes of Hazzard is in the movie; it didn't even click with me until my wife said it.” Sanja and Sean soon decided that Pedro was so involved in the project that he should be a producer on it. “During production, I coordinated because if you're not from here, it can be challenging. Other than that, I just did what producers do, which is to troubleshoot and still manage to run locations by myself which became difﬁcult. It was down to the ﬁrst day of Pedro Lucero calls director Sean Brosnan. shooting, and we were still trying to negotiate using people's houses because they were perfect and needed no set dressings,” says Lucero. “We drove hours and hours trying to ﬁnd the right look and knocking on people's doors and asking if we could shoot in their houses and knocking on trailers,” explains Brosnan. “I was thinking someone's going to walk out with a gun and say, 'What are you doing on my property?' I really wanted to ﬁnd a biker-looking clubhouse so it had to look really disheveled and run down and even the aesthetic had to look menacing. I walked into a bar and went up to a group of guys inside and said, 'Are those your bikes out there?' And they said, 'Yeah, who's asking?' and I said, ‘I was wondering if I can put them in a movie.'” (L-R) Pedro Lucero and LIFF staffer Brosnan continues, Jason Allen “I met some amazing people. Every door that I knocked on and everyone that answered,
obviously, they were very dubious and suspicious at ﬁrst of me saying, 'Hey, can I use your house to ﬁlm,' but I actually made some friends down there that I'm still in contact with, and I got to hear some amazing stories. I was very humbled and grateful that people were so welcoming, and with open arms; they let us use their properties, their houses, their trailers, and even their motorbikes.” “We used all practical locations,” recalls Brosnan. “Even at John Schneider Studios, we shot in his house. The only thing we built out was the biker clubhouse inside this empty warehouse. We had a construction crew that came in and built that… and the shed you see in the beginning. I wanted it (the shed) to be completely symmetrical for the framing of the shot so when we dollied out, it would look smaller to make Ivan look bigger … I wanted him to look like a caged animal. The scene was imperative to the movie, and I think we built that one wall three or four times. It was the ﬁrst scene I wrote, even though it was out of order, but it was the ﬁrst scene I visually saw clearly in my head.” “We moved really fast,” explains Brosnan. “We location scouted for 2 weeks. We cast the ﬁlm out within 3 weeks, everything except my lead actress. We were to start principal photography in two days, and I still didn't have my lead actress. And I had my casting director from Los Angeles sending me all these audition tapes… and ﬁnally I got Candice's. I watched 30 seconds and said, 'Yep, (L-R) My Father, Die actors Jason Kirkpatrick, John that's her. Bring her Schneider and producer Pedro Lucero down.' She literally got the job and was on the plane the very next day and was on set the day after.” “It was an 18 day shoot,” continues Brosnan. “I wish we would have more time. We did a whole car chase with the Dodge Charger and a Harley Davidson going in and out of dirt roads, down side streets, and through people's back gardens while ﬁring automatic weapons; we shot that in two days which usually would take two weeks. And it was raining sporadically on and off, and I kept thinking I hope the rain doesn't come during the two days of the car chase because that just wouldn't work so I was praying to the movie gods, and it turned out okay. We were very, very lucky.” “Most of the crew was from New Orleans and the surrounding areas. I only brought down my cinematographer, line producer, UPM, and a couple of my camera team,” recalls Brosnan. “With the exception of my three leads: Gary Stretch, Joe Anderson and Candice Smith, all the cast was from Louisiana. Brent Caballero did all the local casting. And I was really amazed because there was so much talent down there that it was actually very difﬁcult to cast because there were so many good actors. I'm really happy with the people I got like Ross Britz, Jason Kirkpatrick, Thomas Francis Murphy, and Susan McPhail. William Mark McCullough was just killing it, and he's working all the time now.” “It was my second time in Louisiana, but my ﬁrst time ﬁlming
there,” adds Brosnan. “I absolutely loved it. I stayed down in New Orleans in the French Quarter, and I have friends down there. But what was different about this was (L-R) My Father, Die actors Scott Allen Perry, that I actually got Josh “Ponceman” Perry, and Susan McPhail to travel outside of NOLA into the woods and the sticks into no man’s land. Everyone was very hospitable. And the food, oh my God, I gained about 30 pounds. My wife was pregnant and she was getting big, but I think I was getting bigger! The catering was wonderful; they did home-style cooking like buttermilk (fried) chicken. It was so good.” For local producer Pedro Lucero, he was just happy to work close to home. If he's not traveling to work on a ﬁlm, good chance he's traveling to support a ﬁlm. At festivals such as SXSW and LIFF, Lucero frequently gets asked about his success as a producer. “Know how to run a business,” says Lucero. “I couldn't emphasize that more. Basically, every ﬁlm is a small business from top to bottom. Setting up, incubation, pre-production, production, payroll … it's a business. If you want to be a successful producer, understand different business models and be able to adapt to all of them. And if you're not able to do the business stuff, just be that person who is willing to do everything. Be savvy in every department. Know what they're talking about and know what they mean. I came up from supporting locations and doing my own ﬁlms so I kinda learned a little gaffer, a little grip, a little sound … it's just basically knowing about everything and how to keep people happy. Learn how to keep your crew and everyone happy. 'Please' and 'thank you' goes a long way. People do not realize that anymore.” Lucero keeps very busy noting, “I'm working with Work Light Studios out of New Orleans now on a ﬁlm called Easy Does It. They brought me on about a month before SXSW. I'm also Local producer Pedro Lucero working on a vampire comedy called the Chronicles of Count Carlos where I am a producer and one of the actors. I play one of the vampires. There's an independent ﬁlm I line produced called There Is a New World Somewhere, starring Agnes Bruckner and directed by Li Lu. It's a road trip ﬁlm and a romance. All but one scene was shot in Louisiana. It's played at a bunch of ﬁlm festivals, and we're going to be doing a bunch of independent road trip screenings soon.” Sean and Pedro are multi-hyphenates who are passionate about ﬁlm; they multi-task very efﬁciently, and work keeps them very busy. But they enjoy the work and can manage to do so much with so little in resources. They follow their dreams and their visions, and create art even if it's a bit gritty. I think this is what really makes them successful producers. LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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LOUISIANA LOCALES HIT THE BIG SCREEN AT CINEMACON
(L-R) Director Antoine Fuqua and actor Chris Pratt doing press for MGM and Columbia Pictures’ The Magniﬁcent Seven at An Evening with Sony Pictures Entertainment: Celebrating The Summer of 2016 and Beyond at CinemaCon.
STORY BY JAY CREST MAGNIFICENT SEVEN PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT FREE STATE OF JONES PHOTO BY ERIC CHARBONNEAU COURTESY OF INVISION FOR STX ENTERTAINMENT
ach year, theater exhibitors ﬂock to Las Vegas where studio executives roll out glitzy presentations about their upcoming releases in order to entice exhibitors to provide more screens for bookings. The convention is also an opportunity for exhibitors to learn about services and products they can bring home to increase revenues at their theaters.
This year, the proposed Screening Room VOD service by Sean Parker (from Napster and Facebook), which was announced right before CinemaCon, divided the industry into two camps. Screening Room, a proprietary hardware service that offers consumers movies at home (VOD) on the same day they release theatrically for $50 per movie rental, has directors, producers and studio executives divided; however, most exhibitors are united in their opposition against the service. While Director JJ Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars) opened CinemaCon encouraging attendees to be
(L-R) Actor Matthew McConaughey, Sophie Watts, President of STX Entertainment, Director Gary Ross and Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw promoting Free State of Jones at STX Entertainment's 2016 CinemaCon Presentation in Las Vegas.
open-minded as he discussed his support of the service, Director James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) slammed it stressing that movies should be exclusively in theaters when they initially release. Sean Parker was nowhere to be seen at CinemaCon which probably didn’t help bolster his new, proposed service. Clips of the big summer blockbusters along with star-studded presentations by the studios are always the spotlight of CinemaCon. This year two highly anticipated ﬁlm releases that shot in Louisiana, Sony’s Magniﬁcent Seven and STX’s Free State of Jones, were part of that focus. Of course, for Louisiana cast and crew who worked on these ﬁlms, their arrival at local theaters can’t come soon enough. LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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FOR ALL YOUR TRACKING SHOT NEEDS
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REVERSING THE MISSISSIPPI REVISITED
STORY BY T. HOPPER PHOTOS COURTESY OF AMERICA REFRAMED
f you missed the documentary Reversing the Mississippi at New Orleans Film Festival this past October, you have a limited opportunity to catch it online or on VOD. The engaging ﬁrst feature by ﬁlmmaker Ian Midgley sold to PBS World Channel for inclusion in the documentary series America ReFramed. Louisiana Film & Video Magazine had the opportunity to talk with Midgley about what happened after New Orleans Film Festival and his distribution deal.
“We premiered our documentary at the New Orleans Film Festival, and it turned out to be a beneﬁcial networking environment for us since we were able to make connections there which led us to the folks at American Documentary, the company that produces America ReFramed,” says Midgley. In Reversing the Mississippi, Midgley documents his inspirational pairing of farmer and social innovator, Marcin Jakubowski, and Nat Turner, a former NYC schoolteacher who dreams of healing the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As the founder of Open Source Ecology, Jakubowski is the creator of the Global Village Construction Set through which he offers free and replicable blueprints to fabricate everything needed for a self-sustaining village. Turner transformed an abandoned grocery store into a community youth education center called Our School Blair Grocery where he teaches kids to sell vegetables and how to work the land. Midgley believes the two men can help each other and turns on the camera as the fascinating story of both men working together unfolds. “Reversing the Mississippi premiered on the PBS World Channel with the documentary series America ReFramed in April 2016 and was broadcast on various PBS networks across the country several times over the following week,” recalls Midgley. “The ﬁlm is now currently available digitally on their website. It’s been a great way to get the ﬁlm into the world and make it available to people
Director Ian Midgley
who want to learn about these projects and see what it’s like to be involved in the world of social activism.” “When I ﬁrst saw the trailer for our episode of America ReFramed with all of the smooth graphic design and branding I felt like, ‘Wow, we made it,’” adds Midgley. “Seeing the ﬁlm on the big screen or on TV deﬁnitely gives me a feeling of peace and legitimization, like I am a real ﬁlmmaker now, not just a crazy person obsessively working on one ﬁlm for ﬁve years.” For Midgley, it was ﬁve very hard years trying to ﬁnd his subjects and his funding. Midgley explains, “Our ﬁlm was funded by three crowdfunding campaigns, a grant from the American Documentary Film Fund, and my credit card. The International Documentary Association (IDA) served as our ﬁscal sponsor so any large donations could be considered tax write-offs. Our ﬁrst crowdfunding campaign, which was back when the ﬁlm crew consisted of solely me, raised enough money through Kickstarter so I could spend an entire year traveling the country ﬁnding stories. After that initial year of ﬁlming, I returned to Los Angeles, brought on our executive producer Christina Heller, and together we were able to bring in enough money with IndieGoGo to spend two months with an editor. After a year of editing (much of which was done in kind and by me), we decided to introduce our main characters with a collaborative project. At this point producers DJ Turner, Siku Thompson, and ISSUE TWO 2016
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Drew Barnett-Hamilton joined us for the ﬁnal push with another IndieGoGo campaign where we got the money to ﬁnish the ﬁlm.” “Since then I have been able to recoup my own costs through screening fees, licensing, and guest lectures,” continues Midgley. “We’ve been able to hold screenings at several universities, including Tulane, and I would like to continue to bring it to universities through educational distribution.” “Since it was my ﬁrst feature, most of my proﬁt is coming in the form of more work as a documentary ﬁlmmaker. I am currently
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working on a documentary about making progressive change in public education. There is quite a lot of forward thinking happening in our school system, but it is often only realized in private and charter schools as exempliﬁed in the charter-heavy system in New Orleans. Charter schools are not problematic, but it is problematic when all of our students in public schools do not have access to the incredible innovations happening in education. So we are looking at a non-charter school in Virginia that is incorporating project based and integrated subject learning into their practices to get kids re-engaged in learning. We’re examining if it’s possible to Marcin Jakubowski rapidly change the way programs operate in public schools and recording the effects on a few speciﬁc students and teachers who we have chosen as main characters,” says Midgley. Reversing the Mississippi premiered on PBS on April 12; however, you can stream the ﬁlm for up to 90 days after the ﬁrst broadcast for free online at www.americareframed.com. You can also see Reversing the Mississippi on the World Channel website at www. worldchannel.org/programs/americareframed. Additionally, Midgley has a link to the movie on the ﬁlm’s website at www.reversingthemississippi.com. LFV
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New Orleans Indie Feature PEOPLE Premieres in Dallas STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS COURTESY OF PEOPLE
n April 22, 2016, People, an ultra-low budget feature produced, written, directed, cast and crewed completely by individuals from Louisiana screened at the 46th USA Film Festival in Dallas. People is a fun ﬁlm, composed of interesting and engaging character studies/vignettes, that has a unique twist at the end that ties all the characters together. The production team, which has extensive experience crewing on much bigger budgeted television and feature ﬁlms, has recently returned from People’s world premiere in Texas. Louisiana Film & Video Magazine had the opportunity to speak with (the more comedic) members of their team to learn about their quirky, dark, dramedy.
“Our rough and tumble troupe recently completed its ﬁrst feature ﬁlm which included New Orleans resident writer/director Shane McGoey and almost all New Orleans cast and crew,” says Producer Eric Winder Sella. “We spent a long time trying and failing to get a Actor Resno Amariz (R) enjoying the different (drama) premiere of People. production off the ground. The process itself was dramatic; but, taking a step back, it was a rolling comedy of errors. And that’s People. 26 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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People are terrible, and the only way you can survive life is to take a step back and laugh at how awful people can be.” “Pain, suffering, frustration, and an acute sense of moral depravity,” adds writer/director Shane McGoey as he also discusses the inspiration of People. “We had a ten day schedule with just six shooting days (one for each vignette) and all of them at night,” explains Sella. “Carlos Bible, the director of photography, made sure that the schedule did not affect the quality of the ﬁlm. Much to his credit, it looks like stuff Los Angeles spends months making.” “I wrote the script in nine days,” recalls McGoey, “and in real-time. Few aspects were cleverly plotted in advance. They were each begotten isolated, existing merely as curious anecdotes and dilemmas. But I did write with a general knowledge that all the characters should end up in a societal, existential hell together.” “Premiering at the USA Film Festival was an all around great experience. We had a great crowd, and the ﬁlm was very well received,” says Sella’s producing partner Harrison Huffman. “Also, the Angelika Film Center has a wonderful facility. The picture and sound quality were superb. I would say this is the best People has been presented to an audience thus far. I am looking forward to saying that again in the future.” “Mostly it all felt very whirlwind,” adds actor Renso Amariz. “We got there Thursday, and from that point on I never knew what day it was again. We had an attitude going in that we were going to have all the fun that was there to be had, and I think we did, and maybe not at anyone else’s expense.” Amariz continues, “The ﬁrst time I saw the ﬁlm, it was with other people that were involved in the production. You expect that they’re going to be overall nice about what they saw, regardless of how they may actually feel. As someone that was in it, I just saw every opportunity where I could have made my performance better (during that screening). Watching it with a group of mostly strangers was much more frightening. You ask yourself if they’re going to see that you’re a shitty actor, are they going to get the jokes, are they going to tell you the truth when it’s done? While the movie
was showing, I felt that people got the jokes. When the lights came back on they didn’t tell me I was a shitty actor so I’m just going to assume they were telling the truth.” “I think every(L-R) Writer/Director Shane McGoey, Producer Harrison Huffman, and Producer Eric Winder Sella one in our camp and at the festival would agree that we brought the real meaning of People and a little bit of New Orleans with us to Dallas,” says Huffman. “I’d go on record as stating that we were the life of the party.” Sella laughs saying, “I don’t think we’re allowed back at the Highland Hotel.” “The USA Film Festival has such a great history,” continues Sella. “This was their 46th iteration. They’ve screened and debuted amazing ﬁlms, and they focus on ﬁlms that are outside the studio-festival-distribution racket. I think they only screened 10 narrative features, including us, so it was a huge honor. Ann Alexander, the director of the festival, is a ﬁlmmaker’s dream. They bent over backwards to make sure we had an amazing time. And they deﬁnitely encouraged our behavior. We jaywalked the entire time, which they apparently get upset about in Dallas.” Sella adds, “I just told Shane and Harrison the other day, I want to live every day of my life like I am at a ﬁlm festival... You meet so
Getting good audio on Actor Allen Frederic (Steve) in a scene from People
many people at these festivals, and everyone wants you to screen in theirs or come to their town and screen for local ﬁlmmakers. We made a lot of good friends at this (ﬁlm festival) so People should spread like a virus.” The team is just beginning to explore distribution options and look for a sales agent. “We’ve got a lot in the works right now,” says Huffman. “There’s a deﬁnite game plan in place, and each of us are working diligently to keep the festival circuit going.” LFV
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, N O I T A C O L LOCATION, LOCATIONS
Shreveport Film Commissioner Arlena Acree (center) answers questions about locations and tax credits at the AFCI Location show. STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM
ach year, the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) has their annual Locations Show which provides opportunities for those in the ﬁlm industry such as location scouts, location managers, producers, directors, and independent ﬁlmmakers to learn about the different locations and various production incentives offered throughout the world. Cities, states and countries throughout the world participate in the trade show by showcasing the unique cinematic qualities and incentives that they have to offer. This year the AFCI Locations Show moved from Century City (Los Angeles) to Burbank.
River Parishes, New Orleans Plantation Country, and St. John Center Film Coordinator Jo Banner
“The Show’s location was excellent,” explains Bossier City Film Commissioner Pam Glorioso. “I
heard from several attendees that they did not have to ﬁght the trafﬁc as much and getting into the actual show was easy.” “We really liked the location and how close it was to the Burbank Airport,” adds Shreveport Film Commissioner Arlena Acree. “Several of our attendees commented on how convenient the location was this year.” “The Burbank location was beneﬁcial because we were in the middle of the Hollywood Industry,” explains River Parishes, New Orleans Plantation Country, and St. John Center Film Coordinator Jo Banner. “I took advantage of our close proximity to the studios by visiting several of them. The studio tours gave me a few ideas that I would like to incorporate in the marketing and promotion of our ﬁlm industry in the River Parishes.” Participation by various regional ﬁlm commissions in Louisiana has dwindled over the years, largely due to the budget shortfall that is gripping most of the State. This year, Louisiana was represented by only two regions: Shreveport-Bossier and The River Parishes/ New Orleans Plantation Country/St. John Center. With both booths side by side, it increased the visibility of Louisiana at the event. “There were a lot of great looking booths this year,” says Acree. “Our Shreveport-Bossier Film Ofﬁce Booth got 3rd place for best representing our area. We were so excited to be recognized.” “This year’s AFCI Locations Show was a smaller show than in years past, but it did have a good attendance,” explains Glorioso. “I think that AFCI bundling the show with the Finance Showcase was a creative way to give more people opportunities to learn about ﬁlm ﬁnancing... In our Shreveport-Bossier booth, we had a lot of questions about the Louisiana (Film) tax credit program. There were concerns about the program, how it is currently, and what the future may be for the tax credits.” “Great conference and speakers,” adds Acree. “We answered a ISSUE TWO 2016
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lot of questions about the State’s tax credits and about locations in our area.” Although the State did not have a booth or speak at the ﬁnance conference, Louisiana Film Director Stephen Hamner did attend at least one day of the event and spent quite a bit of time at both regional booths doing damage control regarding the tax credits. There is a growing consensus among those in the Louisiana entertainment industry that the legislative changes to the ﬁlm tax credit program last year has signiﬁcantly (and negatively) impacted ﬁlm and television production across the state. “The status of Louisiana’s ﬁlm tax credit program was the question I received the most,” says Banner. “I was quite surprised by the number of industry people who thought Louisiana’s program was
eliminated. The show was the prime opportunity to educate the industry. In addition, I received many questions regarding the St. John Center and the many historical homes in my region.” “We did walk the ﬂoor and talk to other locations,” says Glorioso. “In comparison to Louisiana, we offer one of the best products for ﬁlmmakers who are wanting to shoot in the USA. True, there is some confusion about the current program, and we have addressed that with the State. We anticipate that there will be a strong effort on the State’s part to try to clear up the confusion and clarify to the ﬁlmmakers the facts about the program. Louisiana is still alive and wanting to work with ﬁlmmakers to make their productions in our State and especially in north Louisiana.” Banner agreed with Glorioso saying, “I do see more states and countries adding or increasing their incentive programs. For example both Minnesota and Ohio have added programs. I think Louisiana’s success with this program has encouraged others to do the same. With that being said, Louisiana’s program still seems to be one of the best; however, clariﬁcation is needed for all involved. Stability seems to be what the industry is most looking for.” “Overall, I experienced positive results from the Locations Show,” says Banner. “I was glad to see there is still an interest in ﬁlm. I have been contacted already from a few of the producers I met in Los Angeles and received even more leads with potential.” “We thought it was a great turnout,” says Acree. “We will continue to spread the word. Our incentives are still the best in the U.S., and we’ll continue to promote our region for ﬁlm.” LFV
LANDRUM ARTS LA TALENT AGENCY LANDRUM ARTS LA talent agency (aka LALA Talent) is a full-service agency specializing in the representation of high-quality actors and performers who can book “starring,” “lead” and “supporting” roles in ﬁlm, television, stage, voice over, commercials, print, etc., coast to coast. Our main office is set in the center of the United States in Shreveport, Louisiana, where we effectively book actors from California to New York. LALA Talent concentrates on signing good quality people who are loyal, hard-working, talented and professional. Because of our stringent screening process and our Code of Ethics policy, we do well to create repeat business by providing talent in which productions insist on booking again and again. We conveniently provide talent globally to compete worldwide. Professionals (casting directors, productions, VIPs) can reach Dawn and George Landrum at Agent@LandrumTalent.com. Actors who wish to apply can contact Amber Dawn Landrum, NTD Director, at NewTalentDivision@LALATalent.com. For all other inquiries: Information@LandrumTalent.com. 30 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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NEW ORLEANS FILM SOCIETY GALA Provides Food and Fun For Attendees Including NCIS Honorees STORY AND PHOTOS BY SANDI GERDES AND W. H. BOURNE
n Saturday, April 16, the cast and crew of NCIS: New Orleans was awarded the 2016 Celluloid Hero award at the annual New Orleans Film Society Gala. The Gala is one of the biggest fundraisers for the New Orleans Film Society with its auction bringing in thousands of dollars to help fund ﬁlm-related programs and events. The event was held on the grounds of the St. Charles Avenue mansion of John and Yulia Houghtaling. Fortunately, the rain was held at bay and attendees were treated to a delightful breeze at the outdoor soiree.
“We are proud to have one of the top television shows in the country ﬁlm right here in New Orleans. Just as important, it’s a production that showcases our unique locales, culture, and our experienced talent and crew base,” said Jolene Pinder, Executive Director of the New Orleans Film Society. “The impact of NCIS: New Orleans resonates far beyond the screen. They provide quality ﬁlm jobs in our community while also supporting small businesses and encouraging tourists to visit our great city.” For those not familiar with the sophomore CBS drama, NCIS: New Orleans is a spin off from the NCIS franchise. It’s about the New Orleans ﬁeld ofﬁce that investigates criminal cases involving military personnel. The top-rated series has ﬁlmed two seasons in New Orleans and has been renewed for a third season. Attending Celluloid Heroes honorees included actors Rob Kerkovich, Shalita Grant, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, and producer Joseph Zolfo. The honorees kept their speeches brief and humorous focusing on channeling their energy toward the drinks, food, dancing, and auction action. This year’s New Orleans Film Society Gala featured food from top restaurants around New Orleans including Domenica, Delachaise, Angeline, Dat Dog, Greek Girls Rice Pudding, The Lakehouse Restaurant, Manhattan Jack, Oxalis Restaurant, and Southern Hospitality Catering. Liquor included Hendrick’s Gin, Reyka Vodka, Sailor Jerry Rum, Sazerac Rye Whiskey, beer from NOLA Brewing, and wine from CellarDoor. Music was provided by DJ Mannie Fresh and actress Shalita Grant treated the crowds to some great dance moves. The celebrities from NCIS: New Orleans were very nice. Everyone seemed to be quite relaxed and having a good time. The exterior setting for the house was lovely and the decorative lighting throughout the yard was pretty. It was inviting and subtle, not too overpowering and glaring. The front entrance of the house as the focal point was a smart idea because of its positioning and altitude.
Jolene Pinder (L) presents NCIS: New Orleans with the Celluloid Hero award at the 2016 NOFS Gala.
Even the landing for the front walk/stairway as a dance area was interesting; it all worked. As we left, New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) Director of Programming Clint Bowie reminded us that the ﬁnal deadline for submissions to the 2016 New Orleans Film Festival is June 15. “We are looking for ﬁlms that have something to say,” noted Bowie. “Films with a point of view, ﬁlms that have a style all their own, ﬁlms that will move audiences and spark dialogue. A formal submission through one of the festival’s submissions platforms, either Withoutabox or FilmFreeway, is the primary way a ﬁlm can be considered for festival programming. Films are solicited in all genres and categories, including shorts and feature-length, documentaries, animated ﬁlms, experimental ﬁlms, music videos, web series, and new media projects. The festival is unique in that it pulls its lineup almost exclusively from submitted ﬁlms. While many other festivals curate a large percentage from other festivals and from ﬁlms they seek out, NOFF has imposed Honored actor Daryl Mitchell a mandate that at least 90% of the lineup come holds the award. from submissions. The remainder of the festival is populated by end-of-year prestige ﬁlms that have already acquired distribution. Additionally, 2016 marks the 27th edition of the festival and the 2nd year that it has been an Oscar-qualifying festival in the category of Documentary Shorts.” If this year’s New Orleans Film Festival is anything like this year’s New Orleans Film Society Gala in October, it should be a great event! LFV
(L-R) Clint Bowie, Rob Kerkovich, Shalita Grant, Daryl Mitchell, Joseph Zolfo, and Jolene Pinder ISSUE TWO 2016
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FILL IT OUT FROM HOME
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NAB 2016 FOCUSES ON VR AND HDR BUT ANG LEE PLANS TO BRING BOTH TO FEATURE FILM STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK POSTER COURTESY OF TRISTAR PICTURES AND SONY ENTERTAINMENT
f you were lucky enough to get a seat in the packed session on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, then you saw cinematic history in the making. Threetime Academy Award winner Ang Lee brought extended clips of his extraordinary upcoming drama which uses new technology for shooting (and playback) at an ultra-high frame rate (120 fps), 3D. It’s the ﬁrst time in ﬁlm history that a feature will release in this format, to create an immersive digital experience to help dramatize the effects of war in a way never seen before.
You can buy this 8K Ikegami camera rig with the Canon lens -- if you have $1,000,000 to spare.
VR and HDR were deﬁnitely the big catch phrases on the NAB show ﬂoor, but it was Lee’s vision of how to apply this to cinema that I found particularly of interest. In addition to ultra-high frame rate, the ﬁlm also employs the use of HDR (high dynamic range) to deliver a range of colors beyond what we normally see in 3D. While VR technology is decreasing in price and increasing in proliferation, I can’t help but think that YouTube will soon be ﬁlled with endless hours of VR cat content. As far as HDR, TV manufacturers at NAB were pitching monitors that included this feature with hopes that consumers, who have been rapidly adopting 4K sets, will upgrade for the new added feature. Technicolor was even licensing their proprietary software to TV manufacturers for this; however, I believe HDR TVs may suffer the same fate as 3D TVs due to the lack of content and non-standardization of HDR. On a positive note, HDR is inﬂuencing camera support manu-
facturers. In particular, the new Atomos Shogun Flame allows you to natively record camera footage in 4K HDR. As a matter of fact, Atomos announced at NAB that they will be providing free HDR recording upgrades to all customers who have previously purchased any compatible Atomos digital recorder. While virtually every camera manufacturer had at least one 4K camera on display, it was interesting to see who was currently delivering 8K cameras; RED, Sony and Ikegami had all moved beyond the prototype stage and currently had available units— providing your name was at the top of the wait list. Of course having a lens that can take advantage of that 8K sensor is equally as important, and it was interesting to see the new offerings by Cooke, Canon, and Angénieux. While Vantage did not have a booth, they had a prototype 90mm Hawk 65 anamorphic lens on display and in use on an 8K RED Weapon in RED’s booth. Vantage, like many other lens makers, is working on new lenses to cover the VistaVision and 65mm size sensors that are becoming increasingly popular in cinema cameras. This year, NAB was certainly an opportunity for your imagination to run wild and explore the many different creative ways you could use emerging technology. Director Ang Lee joked saying, “My VR Director Ang Lee is better than your VR,” but in this case it’s absolutely true. Lee’s vision is the direction that the future of ﬁlmmaking should be headed toward, by offering exciting new visual experiences. Currently, there are only a few prototype projectors available that are capable of showing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in ultra-high frame rate, 3D, HDR; let’s hope they make and install lots more before the ﬁlm releases on November 11. LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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NAB 2016 EXPANSION INCLUDES A NEW VR PAVILION STORY AND PHOTOS BY STEVE NESTOR ADDITIONAL PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM
Attendees at NAB demo 360 degree projects using Samsung’s Gear VR
ver wish you could stroll through the interiors of a Van Gogh painting?
The Night Cafe (dir. Mac Cauley) [www.borrowedlightvr.com/ the-night-cafe/] was one of nearly two dozen projects featured at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show’s Kaleidoscope VR Showcase in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion. Winner of the 2015 Platinum and Community Choice Awards at the Oculus Mobile VR Jam, The Night Cafe invites viewers to wander through a 3D rendering of the cafe in the style of Van Gogh. As with the other 15 or so videos shown on Samsung’s Gear VR, viewers of The Night Cafe could use a small touchpad on the right side of the headset to navigate forward and backward. At NAB, Gear VR users were seated in swivel chairs to facilitate lateral navigation (and to prevent the up-to-30 simultaneous Gear VR testers from bumping into each other). Explorers of the cafe were rewarded with several tributes to the post-impressionist master, including a vase of familiar sunﬂowers atop the piano, and Van Gogh, himself, taking a seat in his favorite rocking chair. And, for those curious to explore every nook and cranny (yours truly), yes, the cafe featured a toilet. The experience reminded me of the photographs in Blade Runner (set in 2019) that offered Harrison Ford the ability to navigate behind walls and drawers to discover the secrets of a 3D space. Like Google Cardboard (which was distributed in at least one of the virtual reality panels at the NAB Show) the simple Gear VR
Being There – VR News and Documentaries Panel
headset offered one advantage over the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets. The wireless setup (and swivel chair in this case) granted viewers the ability to continue on an endless clockwise or counter-clockwise path as quickly as their vertigo would allow. The HTC Vive offerings, on the other hand, made use of multi-function controls that gave users more options to be an active participant in the world they were navigating. “I have arms!” I said, as the attendant ﬁtted me with the hand controls and my cartoon appendages appeared on the screen. This was for Wevr’s premiere of Old Friend [transport.wevr.com/old-friend], a VR short created by Tyler Hurd. Old Friend features real-time animation which is inﬂuenced by the viewer’s hand and headset movements within a booth space of roughly 8’ x 8’. A ﬂashing grid kindly prevents users from walking into walls when they get too close. My personal favorite HTC Vive experience was Google’s Tilt Brush, which took Vive’s hand controls to their logical conclusion. Tilt Brush transcends VR from a “viewing” experience to a “doing” experience, where the user creates the content from scratch. In Tilt Brush, Vive’s hand controls serve a dual purpose, offering a menu of tools with which to draw, paint, etc. as well as becoming the brush or tool itself. Artists can not only create art on a three-dimensional canvas, but they can literally immerse themselves in the artwork they’re creating in real time. If Tilt Brush is a sign of things to come, the future of sculpture may be virtual. Kaleidoscope showcased a number of cinematic and documentary style projects as well, but one point brought home by the NAB Show was that, for the moment, the advantages of VR are clearer in the world of computer animation and gaming than in cinema. Cinematic audiences are accustomed to fast cuts and close ups—two long-acISSUE TWO 2016
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cepted cinematic conventions that are an improbability in VR and 360. In VR, fast cuts and camera movements can be disorienting, and faces at less than two feet from the lens can become distorted. Just as D.W. Nokia’s Ozo VR Camera Grifﬁth experimented with dissolves and close ups, today’s VR ﬁlmmakers are in the process of creating a new cinematic language for managing how customers will experience VR content. Cameras How producers will create this content is as open a question as how consumers will view it. NAB exhibitor solutions for recording 360 ranged from Ricoh Theta S to Nokia’s Ozo. • Despite coming in at only $349.99, the Theta S delivers decent image quality and includes software that can convert its dual image recording into a single 360 ﬁle. The price makes it a popular introductory choice for 360 and VR ﬁlmmakers. • On the upper end of the price spectrum, weighing in at 4.2 kg and $60,000 is the Nokia Ozo. The Ozo captures 360 x 360 video via eight synchronized 2K sensors. It also boasts 360 x 360 sound recording, and its Virtual Reality Monitor output allows ﬁlmmakers real-time interactive feedback. Its price however can cause coronary thrombosis for production accountants, especially considering that companies on the cutting edge of VR have already amassed a “museum’s worth of outdated equipment,” according to one VR panelist, as the speed of VR tech can leave cutting edge equipment obsolete in months. • Condition One unveiled the Bison camera, which shoots 360 at 48fps in 5.6K. The 16-camera stereoscopic camera also boasts 3D audio, and was designed to be ideal for shooting on the run. But before you whip out your checkbook, Bison isn’t for sale. It’s currently only for Condition One’s own projects. [www.conditionone.com] • GoPro’s midrange solution is the Omni 360. Long the default camera of jerry-rigged 360, GoPro has created a rig that holds six GoPro Hero4 Black cameras, recording in 8K (30fps) or 5.6K (60fps), and features synchronized recording. Like the Ozo, the customized post-production software of the Omni 360 eliminates the need for external stitching. These camera-speciﬁc software solutions were one of the biggest advancements in VR at NAB this year. Until recently, effects houses would painstakingly “stitch” together footage from several cameras in order to present a seamless 360 experience. The process was, and still is, expensive and time consuming. Camera manufacturers at NAB, like GoPro and Nokia, emphasized the importance of camera-speciﬁc software packaged with the device—a camera-to-product pipeline—to edit projects without time-inten38 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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sive stitching. The long-awaited stitching solution has brought 360 capabilities one step closer to the pro-sumer level. The Future of VR and 360 Speaking on “The Future of YouTube,” YouTube’s Chief Product Ofﬁcer Neal Mohan announced the launch of livestreaming in YouTube 360 as well as the incorporation of spatial audio. (For example, as you turn your head at a 360 concert, the audio mimics what you would hear.) “Our goal is to not push technology for technology’s sake, but to truly make it scalable and accessible,” said Mohan. “In fact one of the…product strategy principles we have internally at YouTube is that the technology should be so seamless that it melts away, and the content should come to the fore… And that’s been our approach to 360 livestreaming. From a user standpoint all of you should be able to access content live in 360 degrees without doing anything at all, literally from your iOS device, Android, from the web. You don’t need any new technology, no new headsets, no hardware to integrate. It just works with the core YouTube app.” And the principle applies to 360 content producers as well. Referring to VR and 360, he stated, “…If content creators work with one of the camera provider partners that we have, it should be as seamless an experience as them going live today on the YouTube platform… All of our YouTube space locations, not just in Los Angeles but across the world, will be equipped with these cameras so that content GoPro’s Omni 360 creators can come in and really push the bounds of creativity using this new technology.” Wandering the Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion, it became clear we are in the Wild West Days of VR. There are a bevy of viewing platforms and recording and stitching options, but no clear path as to the best choice for creating the ideal VR experience, let alone how to monetize it. Or, to use a Tolkien analogy, as Jim Geduldick, Cinema and Photo Marketing Manager at GoPro, put it, there’s still “no one ring to rule them all.” At a panel entitled “Being There – VR News and Documentaries,” Bryn Mooser, Co-founder of Ryot, summed up the fast pace of change in the VR world over the past year: “2015, for all of us up here and for anybody who was anywhere in the VR space, was a brutal year… There were ﬁve of us who slept at our ofﬁce for eight months because we were working around the clock on these things… I have gray hair… It was a hard, brutal, wonderful year.” If you missed NAB this year, you can still learn more about VR. NAB has posted two of their VR sessions online: “Being There – VR News and Documentaries” [www.nabshow.com/video/being-there-virtual-reality-news-and-documentaries-0] and “YouTube’s Future – Mobile VR and Putting Content in Context” [www.nabshow.com/video/youtubes-future-mobile-vr-and-putting-content-context]. LFV
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STUDIODAILY HONORS LOUISIANA LOCAL AT
STORY BY AK FARMER PHOTOS COURTESY OF HOLBROOK MULTI MEDIA AND BY ZOOM PHOTOGRAPHY
he National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas spotlights excellence in media offering many different organizations the opportunity to have center stage in order to honor individuals or companies. This year StudioDaily honored Lafayette Cinematographer Bobby Holbrook.
“StudioDaily is a leading and award-winning news source for all creative digital media with a focus on innovation in the production of movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos,” says Holbrook. “The Prime Awards took place in the packed Las Vegas Convention Center on the NAB Show Floor, at the B&H Booth.” “As a StudioDaily 50 honoree I have been placed amongst 49 other ground-breaking, envelope-pushing individuals in media and entertainment,” continues Holbrook. “It’s a line up that recognizes leaders in their area of expertise… To be given this distinction is a big win for me and for Holbrook Multi Media.” “I pride myself on the creativity and innovation I deliver and foster on every production I shoot, edit or manage,” adds Holbrook. “To be recognized with specialists and heavy-hitters like (individual technologists at) AbleCine, Canon, Marvel Studios and ARRI, speaks to the caliber of work produced and the commitment to excellence I have pursued. Of the 50 individuals honored, only 14 were independent creatives, and because this was the inaugural list, there was no shortage of individuals to pick from. The signiﬁcance is in being able to use that internationally-recognized talent to gain awareness for what Holbrook Multi Media can accomplish for producers and clients who want the best, and what the Louisiana production scene has to offer.” “I’ve been a part of the growing Louisiana production industry for over a decade and receiving an honor like this makes me even more determined to expand the capabilities and acknowledgment of cities like Lafayette and New Orleans as top-notch production hubs,” notes Holbrook. “I am very excited that, ﬁnally, someone from South Louisiana is being acknowledged and given recognition for the area. I am an advocate for ‘keeping it local’ and supporting our local artists, myself included. We don’t always need to go out of state for local projects to be done right.” This wasn’t Holbrook’s ﬁrst NAB, so it was interesting to hear about his experience at the show. “I’ve gone to NAB several times in the past. I like to attend Master Classes, tutorials, and even Editing 101 classes to brush up on some basic skills while attending NAB. Staying on top of the learning expeBobby Holbrook, Production rience and continuing the education of the products Manager, C.O.O., Holbrook and skills out there is very important to me,” says Multi Media, one of StudioDaily’s Top 50 Holbrook. “I also enjoy attending NAB to check
(L-R) Bobby Holbrook with StudioDaily’s Bobbie Ferraro.
(L-R) Bobby Holbrook with wife Jenn on the NAB Show ﬂoor.
out the new gear and technology, networking with manufacturers, and seeing old friends in the industry. One thing that I love about NAB is actually getting to handle the gear; to actually spend time with these tools and devise a way to implement them into my workﬂow and pipeline is what I ﬁnd exciting. It’s also proven to be a great opportunity to form relationships with some of the smaller gear companies that I never would have heard of, had I not attended.” Holbrook adds, “I would be insane if I didn’t leave with a shopping wish list! I’m currently looking heavily at the new Red Scarlet W Camera. One game-changing piece of equipment that I’m deﬁnitely going to buy is the Falcon II; it’s an Italian-made semitech dolly. You can’t own a Chapman or J.L. Fisher (made dolly), but with the Falcon II, we will be able to own and use it as we like, which will come in handy for our feature ﬁlms and high-end commercial work as well as some corporate work.” Holbrook reﬂects, “I’ve had a very interesting career so far, and I really feel like I’m just getting started. On a personal level, I feel as though this recognition has come at a prime time, and I am incredibly humbled. I’m gearing up to pursue more feature length ﬁlm projects, and it’s gratifying to see that my work as a cinematographer has been recognized internationally. My dedication to reaching new heights in visual storytelling is what drives me, but of course it’s also great to see that what I’m passionate about has gained attention.” LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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Brought to you by
‘ROCK BOTTOM AND BACK’ TO HIT SHELVES, TV SCREENS
he latest project from BIC Media Solutions, entitled “Rock Bottom and Back: From Desperation to Inspiration,” is set to be released this summer.
Published by BIC Media Solutions and written by The New York Times bestselling author Susan Mustafa Earl Heard with Earl B. Heard, “Rock Bottom and Back” depicts the incredible lives of 22 people who hit rock bottom and then came back from profound despair to help others in extraordinary ways. When asked about his inspiration behind the book, Heard explained, “I went to rock bottom in the early 1980s and others who have been to rock bottom before me were my best supporters. After that experience, I vowed to do the same thing and this is something I’ve thought about for decades.” “Earl realized that a book about people who hit rock bottom and then turned their lives around to help others would be a wonderful tool to inspire people,” said Mustafa, the book’s co-author. “When he approached me about writing the book, I thought it was a great idea. Earl and I had known each other for many years, and I knew as soon as he shared his vision with me that this would be a worthwhile endeavor.” Mustafa, a Louisiana native, is an award-winning true crime author, penning books like “The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching For My Father and Finding the Zodiac Killer.” While it may seem like a leap from true crime to the inspirational genre, Mustafa explained, “I’ve ghostwritten inspirational books in the past, and I enjoy writing them. Also, researching and writing books about serial killers means I get up close and personal with the worst that people can be. I like to write something positive or inspirational while I’m writing true crime in an effort to counteract the horrors I witness. For me, it’s like balancing the worst in people with the best in people.” “Rock Bottom and Back” features celebrities and ordinary people alike, each with a unique story of tragedy, perseverance and, ultimately, success. The book comprises a wide range of people, diverse in age, race and life experiences. “The key thing I was looking for was not how far they had fallen but who had inspired them to rebuild their lives and help others to do the same,” said Heard, who chose the book’s participants with the help of Mustafa and BIC’s media manager Rose Gladner. Once the subjects were selected, Mustafa began interviewing them for the book, calling this “the most incredible back-to-back series of interviews I’ve ever done.” “Everyone seemed to grasp the importance of this project, and they were all very honest about even their darkest moments,” she explained. “To hear how these heroes turned their lives around and then to learn about the wonderful things they now do to help others was very inspiring to me on a personal level.”
While the book was being written, BIC Media Solutions partnered with David Bottner and Steven Scafﬁdi at the New Orleans Mission to help produce a companion DVD. The New Orleans Mission is the largest faith-based private service provider to the homeless population of the greater New Orleans area and the economically disadvantaged residents of Central City. “Our strategy is to rescue people from homelessness, strengthen the recovery efforts of the people seeking our support, and foster their successful re-engagement into society as healthy, disciplined, skilled people ready to lead a sustainable, productive, purpose-driven life,” said Scafﬁdi. As such, Scafﬁdi had the idea to form a Susan Mustafa production company at the New Orleans Mission that focuses on ﬁlm, television and other creative projects. “The goal was to give the homeless living at the mission an opportunity to learn all aspects of ﬁlm production and create and produce original projects at the mission,” he explained. “I went to Mission Director David Bottner with the idea and soon after our ﬁrst meeting, Mission Media Productions was born.” After meeting Heard and signing a deal with BIC, Mission Media began production on the “Rock Bottom and Back” DVD. Guests at the New Orleans Mission, called Mission Disciples, made up the entire production crew. “I produced and directed the production and they worked in all departments including camera, sound, grip and electrical,” said Scafﬁdi. “They also handled post production at our mission ofﬁce and did all of the editing, music, graphics and everything else needed to ﬁnish the production.” He added, “My goal is to allow people who have hit hard times the opportunity to get back on their feet and achieve their dreams through ﬁlm and the creative arts.” The collaboration between Mission Media and BIC doesn’t end there. The two entities are currently working on a “Rock Bottom and Back” TV pilot. “We are excited about the progress (of the pilot) and especially how great the folks at Mission Media have been to work with,” said Heard. “It also is a wonderful feeling to know that in addition to a great ﬁlm about hope and second chances, we are helping folks who are homeless learn a profession.” The ultimate goal for the “Rock Bottom and Back” project— which now includes the book, the DVD and the TV pilot—is “to give hope to those who are facing adversity and despair, and to ignite a spirit of gratitude among those who have been blessed with success and resources,” said Heard. For more information, visit www.rockbottomandback.com. ISSUE TWO 2016
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Louisiana Locations has had a presence in the Location world here since 1980. David Ross McCarty and his team have performed miracles for some of the biggest ﬁlms ever produced in the South. He is persistent and does not take no for an answer. His favorite ﬁlm is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which he spent over a year on. Ask anyone in the business and most know of his work as an excellent source of locations within the entire South. Google his name to interpret a career spent ﬁnding treasures for directors such as Walter Hill, David Fincher, Nicolas Cage, Alan Parker, Jim Jarmusch and Alan Taylor. See a stunning image library at www.davidrossmccarty.com. His energy after 40 years of work is still going and going and going… www.davidrossmccarty.com
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HISTORY AND AUTHENTICITY IN
FREE STATE OF JONES STORY BY W. H. BOURNE AND JAMES MERCEL PHOTOS COURTESY OF FREE STATE OF JONES AND STX ENTERTAINMENT
ary Ross spent six months in Louisiana while working on his historical epic Free State of Jones which debuts June 24th at theaters nationwide. This might seem like a long time for an historical, period war epic that’s on a, roughly, $50 million budget these days; however, this is just a blink of an eye compared to the ten years Ross spent researching the script.
“When I ﬁrst learned of the story of Newt Knight, it was amazing to me that this unique hero had been, kind of, lost to history,” explains Free State of Jones writer/director/producer Gary Ross. “He is known in certain places in the South, and he’s certainly known in Mississippi, but he’s not as widely known as he probably should be, considering he led a rebellion against the Confederacy and in many ways was 100 years ahead of his time.” Ross continues, “There’s a reason that more books have been written about the Civil War than any other period of American history, and there’s a reason that more biographies have been written about Abraham Lincoln than anybody except for Christ. This is a gash in American consciousness. This is a wound in our own history that’s almost inestimable. 600,000 people died. It’s something that has taken generations if not a century to get over and make sense of. Newt Knight makes sense of the American Civil War at its essence, which is that it was fundamentally a moral struggle.” Ross made it his business to learn everything about Newt Knight. He visited actual battle and camp sites depicted in the
Matthew McConaughey stars as Newt Knight in Free State of Jones.
ﬁlm including those in Jones County. He also met with several of Knight’s descendants who shared archival material and their personal family stories. Ross met with Civil War scholars including historian Jim Kelly who is a professor of American history at Jones County Junior College. At the time, Kelly was writing his Ph.D. Writer/director/producer Gary Ross dissertation about Newt Knight with his advisor, leading Civil War scholar John Stauffer, a professor of English and American Studies as well as African American Studies at Harvard University. While 10 years may be an unusually long time for a writer to research a screenplay, going back to school to do it is even more atypical. Ross would go on to become a Harvard fellow in American Studies under John Stauffer. There, Ross also gained full access to Harvard’s encyclopedic libraries and resources. “He (Stauffer) became a mentor and provided me with guidance and tutelage,” recalls Ross, “and a rather copious reading list. We dove into scholarship of the subject matter together.” From his research, Ross began to see Free State of Jones as more of a “Robin Hood kind of story.” Ross’ reference to the war as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s ﬁght” in the movie reﬂects the contention by many that the poor were the victims of the wealthy plantation owners’ economic interests, more so than any speciﬁc noble ideal. The belief is what fueled Newt Knight to take action. “From the end of the war in 1865 until 1876, the South struggled to maintain a system of settled agriculture built on slavery,” notes Ross. “Many of the same issues that pushed the country into war continued to be controversial and divide the populace afterward, ISSUE TWO 2016
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speciﬁcally the divisive viewpoint it was and if I’m gonna say this that the South absolutely required was a war that was being fought a cheap labor force to preserve its on the part of the Confederacy agrarian economic society.” to maintain the Planter Class Ross continues, “As for Knight, and the slave-ocracy, I want to as events after the war unfolded show the human cost of that... If unfavorably for the freed Newt is going to desert and go slaves, he transitioned from the home, I also want to show what defender of yeoman farmers into happened in battle plus I want the staunchest advocate of the to show that he’s chosen to tend newest American citizens, African to these wounded, which is true. Americans, ﬁghting literally and There’s a quote from him where ﬁguratively on behalf of their he explains that he wasn’t going rights; ultimately, he even joined to ﬁght for the Confederacy. He their community, marrying says, ‘When I went in, when they Matthew McConaughey as Newt Knight in Free State of Jones. into and living among them. He drafted me, I told them I wasn’t supported intermarriage and going to ﬁre a shot. I’d tend to fathered mixed race children of the sick and the wounded.’ That’s whom he was incredibly and his being a conscientious objecpublicly proud.” tor in that moment.” What’s unusual about Free Ross continues, “The ﬁeld State of Jones is that like most hospital, we researched really, movies about this era, Ross really tremendously, to create delves deeply into issues of the the authenticity. I told them Reconstruction period. He sees (casting), ‘Every one of those Reconstruction as having three extras at one of those tables is acts which he depicts in the ﬁlm. an actual orthopedic surgeon,’ “What many people don’t so we didn’t use extras; we used realize is that it (Reconstruction) real people who amputated real was a ‘second’ Civil War raging Moses (Mahershala Ali) and Newt (Matthew McConaughey) encourage African limbs, and I just told every one of American freedmen to vote. on...,” explains Ross. “The ﬁrst the surgeons, ‘Here’s your team, act is (when) the President gives the Confederates back their land. tell them what to do.’ I’m not going to tell them what to do; I’m not They get re-empowered and institute an alternate version of slavery an orthopedic surgeon, but in the melee and at the heart of it all, in the form of sharecropping. Second, Congress sent military govthere’s an actual delegation which makes this much more exciting. ernors down to the South and tried to guarantee suffrage, the right And so, the orthopedic surgeons were directing their trauma teams. to vote for African American freedmen. It took a lot of guts for The other thing is, there were a lot of wonderful people who were blacks to vote during Reconstruction. A ﬁnal act of Reconstruction actual amputees from Afghanistan and Iraq who volunteered their was a resurgence of paramilitary organizations like the Ku Klux time. We created prosthetic limbs for them. The limbs that were Klan, the Knights of the White Camillia, the Red Shorts, or the riﬂe being amputated were actual prosthetic limbs attached to a real clubs, local militias that worked to drive Northern troops out of the person so that gives a lot of veracity to what the scene is. We were South to reclaim political dominance.” very sensitive to these guys. We didn’t know how they’d react to It’s important to note that historical accuracy was paramount being back in this situation. Most of them said they were grateful to Ross. He didn’t want to exaggerate, inﬂate or create to make the for it and found it kind of cathartic but it added the emotion to the ﬁlm more “cinematic”; hence, Ross’ ﬁrst draft of the screenplay is situation as well as the veracity.” positioned on his extensive research, much of it based on new facts While Ross was researching and writing his screenplay, he inthat he and his academic colleagues uncovered. troduced John Stauffer to Washington Post journalist Sally Jenkins. Ross muses, “There’s a lot of things I’m sure people are going to Together, they went on to collaborate on their 2009 book, The State object to, but we can substantiate, like there’s mismatched Confedof Jones, which would ultimately complete the historical record of erate uniforms, which really was the case. The Confederacy didn’t Knight’s pro-union views, his view about race, and how those views have the mills to produce the uniforms like the North did so these informed his actions after the war. were very patchwork things. The ragtag nature that was underscored, “We knew that Newt lived in a mixed race community after the the conscripted nature of that army, they brought these things from war and that he was very aggressive in ﬁghting for the rights of home when they were drafted. I thought that was important.” freedmen, freed slaves, and African American citizens,” recalls Ross, “Also, not shying away from the violence,” adds Ross. “It was one “but little was previously published or known about the racial of the bloodiest wars in history. I know that the ﬁrst ten minutes of makeup of his company during the war. Was it mixed race? Was he this movie are really violent. If I’m going to be honest about what ﬁghting for the rights of slaves or was he only ﬁghting for the rights 46 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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of poor white farmers? That’s been a fundamental question. Jim Kelly found the primary source documents that evidenced Newt’s advocacy for the rights of freedmen extended to the principals of the Knight Company during the war.” An interesting twist to the screenplay includes research Ross uncovered about Newt Knight’s descendants. He thrusts this more modern material into the screenplay to have a very jarring effect on the viewer. “Intercutting to modern scenes was always part of the screenplay,” recalls Ross. “I felt it was important, to understand a continuum of these issues... There was a court case (a miscegenation trial) so it’s part of the facts of the story, and I thought it was an important thing to include. To suddenly zoom out and have that perspective on what the history was and how historical memory works and the way we deal with it and sometimes change it, I thought that was important to include.” “My greatest reward was the process,” says Ross. “I loved it. Learning and studying Civil War history as much as I did, that was incredibly rewarding.” LFV Newt (Matthew McConaughey) carries Daniel (Jacob Loﬂand) across an active battleﬁeld in Free State of Jones.
For more information on Free State of Jones, read our other three articles in this issue. You can also see our related coverage in our online archive of Issue 3, 2015. Free State of Jones will release nationwide in theaters on June 24, 2016.
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Actor Matthew McConaughey and director Gary Ross discuss a scene in the bunker.
FREE STATE OF JONES: LIBERATING ACTORS STORY BY W. H. BOURNE AND JAMES MERCEL PHOTOS COURTESY OF FREE STATE OF JONES AND STX ENTERTAINMENT
or an actor, period pieces can often be challenging. This is particularly true for a historical epic like Free State of Jones which is based on the true life story of Newt Knight during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
How can a director create an environment for actors that is open and collaborative, particularly on a period piece? What do actors need to bring to the table in order for this to happen? Louisiana Film & Video Magazine talked to actors Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, and director Gary Ross about their experiences in Louisiana working on Free State of Jones to ﬁnd out what each person brought to the project to create such strong, authentic performances. “Gary (Ross, the director) came down to Texas with the script. We set on the back porch, I read it, and we talked that night,” remembers actor Matthew McConaughey, the lead in Free State of Jones who plays Newton Knight. “I'm not an academic in American history or Civil War history so this last year spent on this (ﬁlm) was, sort of, my class.” “When I ﬁrst read the script, it was so exhilarating; I felt so alive. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about this,” recalls actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays Rachel in Free State of Jones. “For me to be British, I obviously didn't get taught this history in school. It 48 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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was also such a tale of courage. I just thought it was really epic and powerful. The idea of freedom, spanning generations, and the legacy of slavery, and the legacy of this rebellion, was fascinating and I was inspired to learn more. Gary pointed me in the direction of lots of material I could read...I got to go to Mississippi. I'd never been. I went to visit Newt and Rachel's grave site. It was a very special experience to have. I knew nothing, but it was a wonderful opportunity to discover them.” “Several things drew me to the part, even the swamps,” says actor Mahershala Ali who plays Moses in Free State of Jones. “The more difﬁcult a thing is on the page, sometimes the more excited I get about it, because it's a new opportunity. In my daily life, I would never even travel to the swamp. I don't vacation, per se, but every time I work it's like, 'Oh, hey, I get to go to a new city!' And so, that's when I'm out there enjoying and exploring. It's a bit of an adventure so I was very excited to be a part of it. Then, just in terms of being drawn to the character that I hadn't seen written and explored in this way, on the page, in ﬁlms that portray this era, I hadn't seen someone who was that self-empowered, and to get to step into his shoes and that evolution as a man, as an African American man, living in that time, was really inspiring and intriguing for me.” “Sure (a period piece, largely in a swamp) was a tough shoot! It was a long shoot,” adds McConaughey, “but I mean, when you're in a swamp, there are mosquitoes. I tell you this: not one person complained nor were we going to; it's nice when you get a job that's a true story, that needs to be told, and there's a responsibility to be in it and to tell that story. That keeps anybody from going, 'Damn;
I can't stand the heat.' Yeah, it was a tough shoot, sure, but it was tough in the ways that it should've been tough, and it was tough in the ways it was supposed to be. It wasn't as tough as it was for the real characters that were there in the day.” McConaughey continues, “For me, I'd never been in a swamp in my life. For me, it was an adventure; it's an opportunity for authenticity. To be out in nature, it gives you so much. You don't have to act, in the same way; the conditions, the heat, the energy, it affects your physicality. The period costumes, they didn't really feel like costumes. It just gives you a whole energy. The locations we shot in, some of them were real slave quarters. For me, the energy, on a spiritual level, the respect, of being in real slave quarters, where people lived and died, and did back breaking work every day, to be in those locations and to tread that ground is such a gift. And I say, not just physically, but emotionally.” “Speciﬁc to the story and the character, for me, the term 'music' has come up,” explains McConaughey. “Every character has a song they sing so I break down the script, scene by scene, and put the notes to music. If you hit a bad note, it's apparent that something's off key, and you go work with the writer and the director...That's the work. The work, for me, comes in the three months before you go shoot, and you get to play. I did become, as much as I could, an academic on Newton Knight and what was happening at that time... By the time you show up for work, hopefully, you're looking at it thinking, 'I already know this, it's in my DNA.'” “I took a two week road trip of the South, visited Civil War historical sites, went to Ellisville, and met a lot of Newt's descendants. Once Gary and I were down there, we got to hear facts, but you also got to hear folklore, which is where the history becomes the music because you have it in folklore. Now sometimes it's not, necessarily, the factual truth, but it can expose, dramatically and On location for Free State of Jones with writer/director/producer Gary Ross (center).
Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Rachel in Free State of Jones.
musically, a greater truth about who Newt was. Some people thought he was an absolute hero; some thought he was a bandit. I was just gathering information, meeting some really interesting people, and diving into a really incredible man,” says McConaughey. “Similarly, I think it's fascinating to research the period,” explains Mbatha-Raw. “I was really staring at square one in terms of the history of it, but I think, for me, it's also very important to understand the psychology, the emotional arcana, and the emotional scars of Rachel as well. What was she dealing with growing up in the plantation, and what would that have meant for her? I talked a lot with Gary about status, and the differences when she's in the plantation being in that role of the slave and then actually being in the Maroon camp and ﬁnding much more of her comfort zone, much more her true self. I also listened to a lot of music. I guess that's personal, but it helps me get into certain scenes and emotional places. I worked with a dialogue coach because, obviously, I'm not from Mississippi so I needed to do some work on the sounds and the ISSUE TWO 2016
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Actor Matthew McConaughey plays Newt Knight in Free State of Jones.
really...a long conversation. These are great actors. I used to want to get in there and rehearse every part. Now, I don't. The ﬁrst thing I'll do is have a conversation about the character and give them (the actors) books. I mean, these are people who are great at their job, and need to…go on their own explorations. They'll come to me when the time is right, and we'll have those conversations. That occurs in the prep.” “Rehearsal for a ﬁlm director is very different than rehearsal for a theater director,” adds Ross. “It's more for you than it is for the actor. I mean, you want to collaborate and get on the same page as them, but it's really about the choices...and what you're going to do on the day. I'm making furious notes, because in the heat of the thing, when you're not in continuity anymore and you're tired, you want those notes where, in a moment of clarity, you all had this conversation where you made those decisions. The rehearsal process is us getting to know each other, agreeing in the character, calibrating what we do; it's not about molding the character. It's an informed discussion where minds come together.” McConaughey clariﬁes, “We didn't rehearse.” “We didn't really,” admits Mbatha-Raw. “There were some improvisations; there were a lot of conversations...It's such an authentic world that Gary had created that we were able to exist and ﬁnd things on the day...When you're in those surroundings being able to make fresh discoveries in the moment, it is always the most exciting thing.” “For me, the ﬁrst rehearsal is always the ﬁrst wardrobe ﬁtting because it clues me into the work and a very important layer for the character,” offers Ali. “Then you get into the makeup and the hair and the beard and whatnot. Leading up to that point, I had read a Steven Hahn book: A Nation Under Our Feet, Free State of Jones, and several history excerpts. I was journaling, and I found
rhythms of that place.” “I'll share this, because you don't hear it very much,” conﬁdes director Gary Ross. “Being a director is a weird job because you do it in public, and every director, whether they admit it or not, feels a kind of scrutiny on their judgment all day long...What you want to do is get rid of that. In the beginning of my career, and I think all of us that do this job are prone to this, I'd do that thing where you want to seem like a director. You want to seem a little remote. You want to seem in charge. But if you really are in charge and you really are in control of it, you can create an open world where everybody is free to express themselves, and you can relinquish that illusion of total control and have partners and collaborators where you're all trying to make a thing together. You're all serving the movie. And so the director actually needs more openness and vulnerability. You've got the control. You're going to cut the movie.” Ross continues, “For me, I feel differently about the rehearsal process than I used to. It's 50 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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Actor Mahershala Ali plays Moses Washington in Free State of Jones.
(R - L) Acting in Louisiana’s swamps for Free State of Jones, Matthew McConaughey and Christopher Berry.
some music that was great for me. I always try to do this for every character, to try and sonically tune in to something of the time. I listened to that in my trailer and in thinking about the character and journaling about the character, but I also have to leave space for me to just explore the emotional interior of a character because one of the most important things an actor can do is learn how to re-learn. It's important to know what works for you. I'm not a particularly academic actor so I have to be careful of getting too heady about things because then I end up ﬁlling space that needs to be explored on the day. So, as much as I did all that, I threw it all away
because you can read a thousand books, but if people don't believe you, they didn't believe you. So, essentially, that's how I approached the character.” “For me, I want to make sure the director and I are in the same movie, telling the same story, as much as possible,” explains McConaughey. “We may not be playing the same instrument, but at least we're in the same band, making the same album...We're soaking up the same language, seeing the same truth. Now, we're ﬁnishing each other's sentences...He's inspiring me; I'm throwing an idea back at him. Now we're working together. I don't have to have any defenses up...That, as an actor is great!” “That's a big moment, the minute the trust happens. You The stars of Free State of Jones: writer/director/producer Gary Ross and actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew McConaughey, and Mahershala Ali go from directing the actor to having a collaborator,” adds Ross. “That trust is in two directions. I need the actors to be able to come to me and say, 'I'm having an issue with this line.' It's a very open process. It needs to be one, but as Matthew was saying, that starts with trust.” “In terms of the rehearsal process and preparing, unlike any other director in my experience, Gary did a wonderful job, bending over backwards in curating a world in which we felt free to not only communicate our ideas, but to go as far as (letting us) push back when we felt like something really wasn't working,” says Ali. “More than any other project, I felt very much like a collaborator...That is a key element in allowing or creating a space for actors to discover and … get down to the greatest, or deepest, degree of truth. For actors to feel freedom, ironically, is this story.” LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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Gary Ross discusses a scene in the Knight Company camp with Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Donald Watkins and others.
FREE STATE OF JONES: A LOCAL’S PERSPECTIVE STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS COURTESY OF STX ENTERTAINMENT, FREE STATE OF JONES, AND OPEN RANGE MANAGEMENT
ouisiana State University MFA alum Donald Watkins gets his fair share of screen time on the upcoming epic Free State of Jones. Represented by Open Range Management, Watkins talks with Louisiana Film & Video Magazine about his audition, his time on set, and advice for those interested in pursuing acting. “I was in the middle of shooting a ﬁlm called Bolden,” recalls Watkins. “It was my second video audition that I’d sent in for the project so I was pretty excited about the prospect. A few weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything. So now we’re back in Wilmington, NC rehearsing and my agent calls and says that Meagan Lewis (RPM, Louisiana casting company), the Director (Gary Ross) and the L.A. Casting Director (Debra Zane) would like to see me in New Orleans in two days. I was freaking out a little bit because of the excitement and was also anxious about making it there in time... I remember thinking that it was all happening so fast...” “I worked on Free State of Jones for a little over 3 months, but
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it seemed like the time ﬂew by,” remembers Watkins. “My favorite time was when we would have these mini scene preps. Director Gary Ross would have the actors get together and discuss in character how we felt about each other, our present state in life, or how we saw the future. Sometimes there wouldn’t be a subject, and we’d just improv. It was a wonderful lead into the world (of Civil War period Jones County). Myself, being theatre born, I was all over it. You can tell he (Ross) really trusts the actors’ instincts. Gary has a great appreciation for the process which made it that much more enjoyable to create, no matter the scene. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, and I hope we’re able to collaborate again some day soon.” Watkins conﬁdes, “I can’t say too much (about Free State of Jones) but I was like the second in command in the Maroon camp. Maroons were rebel slaves who escaped and lived off the land, in our case, the swamps, and survived by any means necessary. Mahershala Ali who played Moses was deﬁnitely our leader, and I was the guy really learning under him about growth, strength, family and what it means to be free.” While Watkins’ character, Wilson, learned from Moses on screen, Mahershala Ali also was a fantastic mentor for him off screen. Watkins credits him with providing “...immeasurable advice about life and the business as a whole.” “By a lot of hard work, prayer and luck, I’ve been very fortunate
to work with amazing talent in front of and behind the camera,” explains Watkins. “I’ve had a ton of support from my family and friends, teachers and directors. My agent Brenda Netzberger with Open Range Management has unquestionably been my rock. Brenda has had my back since the very ﬁrst day I signed with her. I was 22, nervous, and in her ofﬁce for the ﬁrst time. I remember her telling me that if I’m diligent and serious that as a team we can achieve all our goals together Actor Mahershala Ali (Moses) was with hard work and the passion it takes to a mentor to Watkins excel in this business. It was the ﬁrst time where I ﬁnally started to grasp the business aspect. I thought, ‘man, this woman has this much faith in me already. Maybe I do have a shot.’ Her honesty and persistence has always been something that I admire most about her. Her willingness to ﬁght for her actors and seeing the joy it brings watching talent like myself succeed and start to witness our dreams. I must admit, these days it feels much more like family than anything. She’s undoubtedly the person who I trust most with my career, and I’m grateful to continue this journey with someone like her by my side.” Watkins continues, “The best advice I can give is not Actor Donald Watkins to quit. Get used to a level of rejection and cultivate thick skin. I used to get 10 no’s before I would get a
maybe, and you have to ﬁnd a way to deal with that. Do your work and live with the results. Constantly strive to get better. You can never, ever go wrong with more training. It’s going to be tough, but if you’re serious about it (and I mean can’t imagine yourself doing anything else and being happy) then put the work in. Decide what kind of artist you want to be. Many times people neglect the art in search of celebrity, and those are two completely different things. Anyone can be famous, it takes a certain skill and discipline to be an artist. Live your life! Nothing can grow you more as an artist than experiencing new things. It’ll change the way you see the world as well as your approach to everything you do.” While Watkins’ advice seems like a lot to do, the young SAG artist is keeping busy. In addition to his performance in Free State of Jones, you can also catch him this month in Roots on the History Channel. “I’m a passionate young man who’s grateful for all of my opportunities past, present and future,” adds Watkins. “The goal is, without question, longevity in this business, and I look forward to making a positive impact for years to come. I work hard and I want to show people that with a lot of faith and persistence, you achieve anything you put your mind to.” LFV
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The camera crew shot from boats to get coverage in the duckweed covered swamp.
SHOOTING IN LOUISIANA: FREE STATE OF JONES STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS COURTESY OF FREE STATE OF JONES AND STX ENTERTAINMENT
ouisiana Film & Video Magazine had the opportunity to speak with writer/director/producer Gary Ross about his work here last year on Free State of Jones.
Writer/director/producer Gary Ross
“Unlike a lot of people who shoot in Louisiana, this story was set, literally, about 150 miles from where we ended up shooting it. Between swamps and the woods and everything Louisiana had to offer, it was great. There was an amazing crew base, which we found the local crews to be as good as anybody I worked with in Los Angeles, and also
Filming the action with actors Matthew McConaughey and Mahershala Ali (Center L-R)
the deep, deep pool of casting talent you have there, especially for a movie set in the South,” explains Ross. “I really enjoyed this process so much, and I loved being in Louisiana. And I’m not just saying that because you’re a Louisiana magazine.” “I had a great, local casting director (Dawn Jefferson) along with Debra Zane who was great. Then, also, Brent Caballero, who cast a lot of the extras, was terriﬁc. It’s an amazing pool of actors. I was just very happy with what the resources were,” adds Ross. “We also had a lot of great people come down from Mississippi to be in the ﬁlm, to be extras, so that was a nice thing.” Ross continues, “The biggest challenge we fought was around the weather. We had a tornado one day... We had no rain cover... Even though we had a lot of money, around $50 million, there were ISSUE TWO 2016
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budget challenges. We were very tight leashed. That’s not a lot of money for a big, period, war epic so to do this movie for $50 million was difﬁcult, but I think we achieved it.” Location scouting was extensive. Ross notes, “The hardest part was ﬁnding a hill near New Orleans. The construction of that battle sequence is based on men coming over the ridge of the hill. We had to scout. There’s, literally, one hill in a couple hundred miles.” As far as ﬁnding the right swamp, Ross had a multitude of choices. He recalls, “We found one estuary which was privately owned, by a doctor, down the river from New Orleans... It was a great, beautiful estuary, and we shot a lot of stuff there. But, we also shot a tremendous amount in Chicot State Park, which is just an amazing looking swamp. You know, it’s so funny, because when I scouted (the location), there was no duckweed. When we went to shoot, they said, ‘I don’t think you’re going to want to shoot in Chicot. It’s all covered in duckweed.’ There was this green stuff on the surface, and I looked at these pictures and thought, ‘This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen; I wouldn’t want to shoot without it!’ I was so fortunate there was duckweed at the time... I found it (Chicot) a really fantastic place to shoot.” “You know, working in the swamp, I love that stuff,” says Ross. “The last few movies I’ve made have all been outside. I hate being inside, so I really, really, liked it! It’s one of the things that is very exhilarating. Getting out of the city, away from the soundstage, getting away from movie making, into the trees, dragging the equipment around in the mud, I enjoy that! Maybe I’m crazy but I really did like this. Honest to God, it’s better than being on a soundstage. Tough is the 25th day on a soundstage! You walk in; it’s dark and everyone’s lounging around around the craft service table; you trip over the cables; I kinda like being outside.” Of course the cast and crew of Free State of Jones did have to contend with swamp-centric issues. “Termites,” exclaims Ross. “In one particular place, you almost couldn’t breathe from the hours of 6 to 8, and then they would just disappear. We had a while where we were just, literally, inundated with termites. Then, for people like me, who weren’t as vigilant as we should be, we all had chiggers pretty badly, but it was worth the price.” Free State of Jones uses all of its outdoor locations to paint a stunning, visual picture. Cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (Theory of Everything, 1408) did a fantastic job of keeping the scenes ﬁlled with numerous extras and epic battles intimate. “I watched Barry Lyndon during the prep,” admits Ross, “as much for the Napoleonic battle scenes as anything else. The way Kubrick was able to stage the tension of what seemed like a suicidal march forward, the regimentation of that… The biggest thing I 56 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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DP Benoît Delhomme (L) shoots 1:1.85 with the Alexa for a more intimate feel on Free State of Jones
took from Kubrick was the decision not to shoot widescreen on what people consider to be a war epic... When you attain the width (for widescreen), you’re giving up height; when you’re shooting in the swamp, I wanted the larger frame of 1:1.85, not the current widescreen... From a cinematic point of view, that’s the most heretical thing I did, but I’m really glad I did it.” “We shot (Free State of Jones) on the Alexa. On Hunger Games, I think, I shot a million and a half feet of ﬁlm. On this it’s digital but the equivalent would be two and a half million feet of ﬁlm. There was just a lot that got shot on this movie. It was a big, big undertaking, but I felt in it every day, I felt exhilarated every day, and I think we arrived at a very good way of getting the story done.” “The cinematography in the movie, which is, I think, the best I’ve done makes it come alive,” adds Ross. “One of the reasons I think the cinematography does work is that we created a very real environment. A lot of that is my production designer Philip Messina, as well. I also really enjoyed working with Juliet Welﬂing, my editor.” Ross continues, “The changes to the ﬁlm credits didn’t affect us, but I understand it’s shifting a lot of stuff to Atlanta, which I think is too bad, because New Orleans can be a wonderful center for ﬁlmmaking. It’s certainly a very practical place for us to spend some time. I spent six months in Louisiana, and I loved every minute of it. I made lifelong friends. New Orleans is a sophisticated, exciting, wonderful place to be; I loved living in the city. I think it’s just too bad that, for reasons I don’t even know, for how small the shift in the cap was, you’ve lost so much more business than you’ve saved in reducing with the cap, which was obviously done for political reasons. I think a lot of business is leaving the state now, way more than the money you’re saving by lowering the cap. It was a really wonderful experience, and I hope you all get your rebates (tax credits) sorted out so it can continue.” “Being down there, in Louisiana, being part of it,” muses Ross, “I loved New Orleans; it’s one of my favorite cities in the country. I will be back!” LFV STX’s Free State of Jones opens nationwide on June 24, 2016.
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HOLLYWOOD SOUTH LEGAL
LET’S FOCUS ON THE GOOD:
POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE TAX CREDIT PROGRAM SINCE 2015 BY MEG ALSFELD KAUL GENERAL COUNSEL, FBT FILM CREDIT, L.L.C. PHOTO BY PAUL VOITIER, COURTESY OF GEAUX MEDIA AND STOCKMONKEYS.COM
here has been much speculation, rumor churning and negative press surrounding the State of Louisiana’s ﬁlm program since the law was changed during the 2015 Regular Session. Yes, the resulting decline of ﬁlm production in this state is very hard to ignore. And yes, many of the changes seemed arbitrary and non-supportive. Yet, while we hope that some of these things will be remedied during another special session this year or in the next ﬁscal session, the reality is that we have to live with these rules for now.
Not all of the changes were bad. Louisiana still has a very strong incentive program. However, the misinformation and rumors amongst the worldwide entertainment industry that have plagued the Louisiana ﬁlm program have been met with limited correction. While perception is key, knowledge is also very crucial. So, it’s important to spread accurate information and highlight the beneﬁts of the program to help combat these misunderstandings, while hopefully encouraging ﬁlmmakers to take another look at Louisiana. With that in mind, let’s discuss a few positive aspects of the Louisiana motion picture program. The Cap: Most people know the word “cap” is enough to send producers running for the hills. This alone may be frustrating, but the new cap doesn’t limit the amount of credits that can be issued by the state. The cap is on the amount of credits that can be redeemed by taxpayers or sold back to the state, at $180 million per ﬁscal year. As we approach the end of the ﬁrst ﬁscal year (June 30, 2016), it doesn’t look like we are close to reaching that number, so we will likely have millions of dollars rolled over and available for use in the next ﬁscal year. What’s more, this cap isn’t forever; it is currently set to expire on June 30, 2018. State Buy Back: The state was suspended from buying credits back from production companies between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. However, the state is set to come back as a buyer on July 1, 2016. Production companies have one calendar year from the date of ﬁnal certiﬁcation to sell their credits back to the state. Therefore, under current law, any productions who were issued credits before July 1, 2015 will be unable to sell back to the state when it comes back as a buyer. The credit market is very active and taxpayers are still buying credits, so producers still have a variety of outlets to monetize their credits. Broker Registry: Under the new law, you must be registered with 58 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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Attorney Meg Alsfeld Kaul
the state in order to sell or broker tax credits. This was enacted to better regulate the industry and further prevent bad actors from selling fraudulent credits. Qualifying applicants will have to pass a criminal background check and there are stiff penalties for those who fail to comply. LDR recently revised its Notice of Intent to exempt production companies and their afﬁliates and members (if receiving credits via allocation) from registration. There is still some uncertainty of whether CPAs must register, but Rep. Stokes and Sen. Morrell are currently working to clarify this (See HCR54). Accordingly, CPAs and tax preparers should keep an eye on these evolving rules. Incentives to Boost Locals: New laws were also enacted to encourage local ﬁlmmakers to stay and create here. Louisiana now provides a 30% tax credit on the base investment to a “Louisiana indigenous production” that spends between $50,000 and $300,000 (a much lower threshold to qualify for credits than before) and that meets certain payroll requirements (encouraging the use of a mostly Louisiana crew for most aspects of the production). In addition, production companies can now receive a 10% credit (up from 5% previously) on their local labor spend, which provides a greater incentive for producers to employ a local crew base. New Qualifying Expenses: Marketing and promotion expenses, which can sometimes run up a large tab, can now qualify if they are expended in the state. Also, a state-certiﬁed production may earn an additional 15% credit on each of their screenplay and music expenses if they meet certain criteria. Credits Issued to Lenders: A production company can now designate a bank or other lender as an “irrevocable designee” to receive
the credits directly from the state. Instead of the state ﬁrst issuing the credits to the production company, who would then transfer them to the ﬁnancier (usually in satisfaction of a loan), lenders can now skip that step and take the credits directly from the state. This is helpful for those who ﬁnance ﬁlms, as they can ensure their receipt of the tax credits and better protect the underlying asset or collateral which may be supporting the repayment of their investment. Louisiana is Wide Open for Business: Louisiana has one of the most talented and deep crew bases in the country; it offers a variety of beautiful and unique landscapes that can mimic New York, Paris or even Thailand; it has studios in all four corners of the state; and it has the support services and infrastructure to facilitate any production need. And, as a whole, Louisiana still has one of the most robust tax incentives in the country—30% of the base investment, an additional 10% for local labor, and now several other ways to earn additional credits on top of that. Louisiana offers a laid-back southern culture, free from
paparazzi and ﬁlled with great food, that ﬁlmmakers and talent ﬁnd very appealing. People want to ﬁlm here. And they should. Let’s focus on the good, and help restore our local ﬁlm industry in any way that we can. LFV NOTE: This article is provided as a public service for general information only. The material contained herein may not reﬂect the most current legal developments. Such material does not constitute legal advice, and no person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information contained in this article without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on that person’s particular circumstances. 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. Meg Alsfeld Kaul is an attorney who works as
Louisiana State Capital in Baton Rouge
General Counsel for FBT Film Credit, L.L.C.
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DEANNA MESKE Actress
DIRECT: 323-487-9116 DeannaMeske@gmail.com AGENCY: Impact MTA 504-533-8759 firstname.lastname@example.org
FRED ELSA &
See Reels & Resume 60 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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Is DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Edit Ready? STORY AND PHOTOS BY ODIN LINDBLOM
aVinci Resolve has been the gold standard for color correction for years, but is it really ready to be your primary editing software?
Blackmagic Design has continued to add features for editing to the beta release of DaVinci Resolve 12.5 which just recently went public at NAB; however, the question reminds me of the advice given by my friend in Finland, Petri Laihonen, who is an IT professional. He said the only proper response to any question involving computers is, “that depends.” In this case it truly does depend on a lot of variables. If you’re looking for a bicycle, they all can do the same basic job of transporting you and some of your stuff around but to ﬁnd one you’ll like, it will have to match how and where you ride. For editing software, it will depend on what type of footage you’re editing, what your delivery times are, and what kind of hardware you’re looking to use. I can’t tell you if Resolve is right for your editing work. There are no right or wrong pieces of software. It’s just a matter of ﬁnding the one that will best support the work you do with the resources you have. What I can do is tell you what I observed while using Resolve and what types of workﬂows and environments it seems best suited for. It’s important to note that Blackmagic offers a nearly fully functional version of Resolve that you can download and use for free. The full version, DaVinci Resolve Studio, retails for $995; you can still get this version for free with select Blackmagic camera purchases. I tested the Beta Version of Resolve 12.5 on three separate computer systems to get an idea of performance. Please bear in mind that these are not to be taken as benchmarks, but merely real world usage examples. It’s important to realize that Resolve is not just an editing software alone but also a very powerful set of color correction and color look tools so it’s no surprise that the amount of system RAM utilized by the software is substantially larger than that of your typical NLE (Non-Linear Editor). I found that, when editing, the software would use between 5GB and 8GB of RAM in addition to the 1GB that the OS and other services were using; renders would easily top 10GB or higher of total RAM usage when rendering simple timelines. A larger challenge is with the GPU. When using a desktop computer with a Quadro M6000, one of NVIDIA’s most powerful
workstation video cards, the software moved smoothly. Using a laptop with a GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB of VRAM, 16GB of system RAM and a quad core processor, playback of footage in H.264 at 20Mbps was ﬂuid but anything much higher began to stutter. Footage at 100Mbps (the highest recordable biterate for the GH4 and many other cameras) was playable but less than ideal. If you have to edit on a laptop, then one of the larger machines with multiple GPUs would be better; however, the software really seems to need the power of a desktop workstation. If you’ve been editing for a while in Adobe Premiere, FCP (Final Cut Pro) or Avid Media Composer, Resolve has a rather different interface that blends layer and nodal based workﬂows that takes a little getting used to. To start out with, the GUI (graphic user interface) is divided into four sections for different stages of your workﬂow: Media, Edit, Color and Deliver. The Media section is a browser that allows you to access footage on your system or search databases for footage to be brought into the project ﬁle. The Edit section opens preview and program monitors and icons for common trim and edit tools as well as a timeline. Color would more aptly be named “Color and Effects”; this section of the GUI allows you to add effects to clips and manipulate how they interact in a window using nodes, and an additional window that can be opened for effects controls. For renders for distribution and archiving, there is the Delivery section that has presets for digital cinema as well as common online hosts like Vimeo. One of the most unusual things about editing in Resolve is its lack of native effects. You won’t ﬁnd things like audio low pass ﬁlters or video limiters that are standard in other editing software. What you do get with Resolve is software that supports OpenFX plugins so you can choose between hosts of free plugins or suites like Boris Effects; however, it may take some work to ﬁnd what you’ll need. After using DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Beta for editing, it seems like a good choice for documentaries or any project working with stills or video shot in raw. Resolve deals with the raw footage the same way it does any other media which could save you from having to transcode footage before editing. The software also allows you to only load the effects you need which can eliminate having the bloat of effects you’ll never use and can’t get rid of. The bottom line is with the free version of Resolve available for download, it’s deﬁnitely worth trying out to see if it’s a match for you. LFV ISSUE TWO 2016
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Leonard Reynolds Location Manager
Positive One Productions 504.606.4110
Cell New Orleans, LA 70117
LBJ • The Big Short • Daddy’s Home • Pitch Perfect II • 21 & 22 Jump Street • Dallas Buyers Club
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FILMMAKERS OBSERVE AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH WITH UNDERSTOOD? STORY BY W. H. BOURNE PHOTOS BY AMY RANSOW
pril is Autism Awareness Month so it’s ﬁtting that Louisiana Actress and activist Susie Labry spearheaded a project to make a ﬁlm on the subject for the Disability Challenge, an online 48 hour ﬁlm festival project that required teams to have at least one member with a disability.
Labry explains, “I saw an ad announcing the call for submissions on Facebook, and I shared it to see if any of my friends were interested in entering the contest...Kay Landon was the ﬁrst to sign up. She was very familiar with autism and my disability, so I was grateful she entered the contest. She did a tremendous job with the script and as a producer. Brian Hertzock also responded and joined our team as producer, director, cinematographer, and editor; he did a swell job... My disability (autism/aspergers) qualiﬁed us to enter. We also had two disabled veterans, Gilbert Robinson and Dawn Hopcraft, who also participated.” “Once we got the criteria (for the challenge), the writing team worked here (at Hertzock Entertainment at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge) while the ﬁlm team gathered equipment, and we secured our location. By the time the script was printed, we were all ready to go to work. The criteria was that something had to be a mystery, that something needed to be ﬁgured out,” Brian Hertzock, President of Hertzock Entertainment remembers. “I think that in such a small period of time, we were able to meet the criteria and get out a great message while keeping the story moving and not losing people’s interest.” “We were blessed to have a wonderful location found by cameraman and actor Gilbert Robinson. He lives at Lakeside Villas Apartments in Baton Rouge, and they provided us their beautiful clubhouse,” adds Labry. Hertzock has three kids with autism so the Director Brian Hertzock topic was very import- on the set of Understood? ant to him. He brought 17 crew members from Hertzock Entertainment to join the team. He also provided all of the equipment. Quite a few members of his crew also qualiﬁed for the challenge because of their disabilities because Hertzock has an educational program for disabled veterans in addition to his ﬁlmmaking. “We shot with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras with Fujinon servo lenses. We had three cameras but it was a two camera shoot,” recalls Hertzock. “We posted with Adobe Premiere Pro. Because it
(L-R) Sgt. Gilbert Robinson, Susie Labry, Sgt. Dawn Hopcraft
was 48 hours, we didn’t bring a lot of equipment. We left the camera cranes and the dollies at my studio because there just wasn’t the time to use them. We were right on the money as far as submitting (the ﬁlm) on time. I’ve never done one of these before (48 hour ﬁlm fest), but it’s a job and a job comes with a deadline so it’s not any different for me.” When you watch the ﬁlm, it has the feel of a documentary. This may be due, in part, to Hertzock’s experience shooting documentaries all over the world for the past 13 years. “I wanted to put the viewer inside of the brain of a person with autism...so with the soft echo of Susie’s voice you can hear what’s going on inside her head…What I wanted people to get was that just because someone with autism may not respond or have a delayed response, don’t think that they don’t understand you,” explains Hertzock. “I had an objective, besides dialogue and camera angles. I wanted to bring something to the table that people needed to see, to bring clarity to the issues of autism and aspergers. When I read comments (online about the ﬁlm), I really feel like we (L-R) Camera Operator Sara Moore and Director Brian Hertzock achieved our goal. Comments like, ‘Miss Susie, I never really knew that’s what you were going through; now I really understand,’ make me go, ‘wow’!” “This isn’t my ﬁrst project with Susie. I really like working with her. Because of her aspergers, she works really hard at what she does…I’ve got a lot of respect for her,” adds Hertzock. “The ﬁnished project was amazing! The script, acting, cinematography, sound, and editing was fantastic. It was beautiful, and I’m very proud of it,” says Labry. “Autism Awareness is very important because way too many people have it. People do watch the ﬁlm still and are constantly commenting on how well it was done... It’s very short and concise, and it really clariﬁes and advocates for autism understanding.” LFV Autism Awareness month may be over, but you can watch Understood? at [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQM6otZ6m68] ISSUE TWO 2016
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INDIE FEATURE CUT OFF WRAPS PRODUCTION
Oscar nominated, character actor Brad Dourif (center) in the recently wrapped thriller, Cut Off STORY BY W. H. BOURNE, ODIN LINDBLOM, AND JAMES MERCEL PHOTOS COURTESY OF DEVILLE PHOTOGRAPHY
the lines. Then I used that every day to get it, syllable by syllable, so that I, mechanically, just couldn't help but say the lines in the correct manner... This is just one of those boring, tedious tasks of ediaFusion Entertainment and Carbin Picdoing the same thing over and over for hours and hours everytures just wrapped principal photography on day. Eventually, I just talked in that accent until yesterday evening their independent ﬁlm, Cut Off. The psycho(when the ﬁlm wrapped).” Dourif continues, “Yeah, I'm a Method actor, whatever that logical thriller, previously titled Born Again Dead, was means. I prepare; I spent a lot, a lot of time on the accent of words, featured for both Indiewire's Project of the Day and and really making sure I got everything. This part was (and) feels Project of the Week. mostly technical to me, but then, I deﬁnitely did dig in there and try to catch what's important to Headlined by Oscar nominated, character these people and to my character; in that sense, actor Brad Dourif (Bad Lieutenant, One I'm very Method. I mean in the beginning, Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), he is joined by Method was just Stanislavsky studying what all John Robinson (Lords of Dogtown, Elethe great actors had in common, and he kind phant), and César Award nominated actor of discovered they had a powerful inner life. So Jean-Marc Barr (Big Sur, Europa). Actor that was the beginning of the Method. How do William Baldwin (Squid and the Whale, you develop the inner life of your character, of Backdraft) even makes a cameo in the ﬁrst yourself when you're working? That's what we Actor Brad Dourif (R) as Diggs feature by writer/director Jowan Carbin. all learned when I was young.” Louisiana Film & Video Magazine had an “The ﬁrst thing I do is memorize the opportunity to speak with actors Brad Dourif and Billy Baldwin lines because the words themselves are about their work on the project. what really tells you quite a bit about a “In Cut Off, I'm playing an older Cajun guy who's at war with character. It's all about the language,” his brother. He's just trying to keep the family together. He lives in explains Dourif. “Then, I try to ﬁgure Cut Off (Louisiana), and he wants to keep all of those traditions out what the core of it is. What job does alive,” explains Dourif. the character have in the story? What “I did speak a little Cajun French (in the ﬁlm); of course, I kind of light is he going to shed, overall, worked very hard on the accent,” admits Dourif. “I have a diaon the idea of what's going on? I try to logue coach who I've used previously... I got a worksheet from get very close to that. Start at the center, him... First, I requested that somebody do all the lines, whoever the core of the whole thing, then slowly Billy Baldwin plays Haskell they thought had the right accent. I wanted him to just ﬂat read work my way out.”
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“If it's a straight offer, they send me the script. When I'm deciding, because you sometimes have to decide rather quickly, I'll just read the part,” says Dourif. “Cut Off was a straight offer. Eventually if I'm going to do something, I have to read the whole script. I can't not read the whole script because I have to know what's going on. I've got to know if anyone says anything about my character and what they think about my character, just shoring up relationships and being very clear about what's going on so that I'm properly prepared. You know, (L-R) Actors William “Billy” Baldwin (Haskell) and John Robinson (Clive) in a scene from Cut Off you've really got to read the script, but that's coming apart at the seams. They allow their emotions to they're just dreadfully boring. They're not made to be interesting; get the best of them and that contributes to the sort of downward they're dialogue skeletons. What's really going to happen is in the spiral that this husband and wife take. It's really a beautiful piece mind of the director. It's where he puts the camera. That's what written by the writer/director Jowan Carbin. He's written dialogue makes it happen.” that really captures the spirit, the essence, and the energy of New “This is at least the third time I've ﬁlmed in Louisiana, maybe Orleans. It's more rhythmic and melodic like lyrics than it is like the fourth; I can't remember. The last one I did here was a Werner dialogue. I've got some stuff that very distinctly can only come Herzog movie, Bad Lieutenant,” recalls Dourif. “It's great in Loufrom my character. It’s very special, very unique dialogue.” isiana if it's not in the middle of summer. It's really hot then. It's “I had to channel a character that was slightly different than really hard to handle. But I enjoy ﬁlming anywhere.” me because he’s from the South and I’m not,” adds Baldwin. “The cast seemed pretty good,” adds Dourif. “I didn't really see any “He’s covered in tattoos. He’s someone who’s rough but kind and weakness whatsoever. Everybody was really bringing it, as they say.” sensitive and sweet, all at the same time. It was all laid out for me “Brad Dourif, he’s just a staggering actor; he’s incredible,” in the writing.” exclaims actor William “Billy” Baldwin. “I'm just in to do a Baldwin talks about the challenges of independent, low budget cameo for a few scenes for a few days. I was shooting for a couple productions saying, “Every department is under staffed and under of days in the Irish Channel. I ﬁnish this week, and I'm heading funded. As an actor you want to shoot 5, 6, 7, 8 takes every shot back to California to my wife and kids. I just was working on that you’re doing, and if you ever see a 3rd take, you're lucky. You a project in New have to be really, really, really prepared coming in. It’s not like the York, so I've been old days,” says Baldwin. on the road lately.” “I played a cameo and wished I could have played one of the Baldwin conleads and been around for a month because I love New Orleans, tinues, “Cut Off is and I really enjoyed working with Jowan,” explains Baldwin. “The deﬁnitely a psystuff he wrote for me was obviously very different than anything chological thriller, I’ve ever done. It was the way in which he communicated that I sort of in the vein liked. Keep an eye on this guy (Jowan Carbin); he’s someone to of Rosemary's Baby, Director Jowan Carbin (center) discusses a scene watch because he’s very bright and talented.” LFV about a family with actor Billy Baldwin (R)
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SENATE MEETS TO REVIEW LOUISIANA FILM INDUSTRY TAX CREDITS STORY BY SUSIE LABRY PHOTOS BY JIMMY HORNBECK COURTESY OF LFEA
n Monday, May 16, 2016, the Louisiana Senate had a Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Hearing on the Louisiana Film Industry Tax Credits. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED) represented by Chris Stelly, Executive Director of LED, and Don Pierson, Secretary to LED, presented what numbers they had.
According to the state ﬁndings, there is a 23 cents return on investment from movie tax credits; however, there is quite a difference in direct return on investment versus showing economic impacts which take into account multiplier ripple effects which indicate at least a $4.50 return on the ﬁlm industry tax credits. Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association (LFEA) brought in a tower of 1800 emails that included written testimonies from cast, crew, producers, directors, unions, caterers, hotels, restaurants, real estate, etc. LFEA also brought in individuals to testify in person including producers and businesses inside the industry as well as businesses outside the industry to speak about how the cap has impacted their respective industries. Speakers included Robert Vosbein, President of LFEA; Herb Gains, Producer; Scott Niemeyer, Producer from Louisiana; Bill Potter, P&N; Susan Brennan, Second Line Stages; Bob Bayham, Celtic Media Centre; Sydney Torres, The Ranch; Trey Burvant, Second Line Bill Rainey and Susie Labry at the Senate Hearing Stages; Cory Parker, IATSE Local 478; Greg Boyd, Vivid Ink, Baton Rouge; Gabriel Markel, Markel Lumber, New Orleans; Jo Banner, New Orleans Plantation Country; Susan Garrett Davis, Sandpit Farm owner, St. Francisville; and Brian Gray, Antiques Dealer, Shreveport. LFEA President Robert Vosbein introduced the speakers. He noted that for every job created by ﬁlm, two other positions in other industries are created. Susan Garrett Davis, who owns a sandpit farm in St. Francisville, said approximately 10 or so movies have come to use the farm as a location and that it actually revived this once closed down business. Gabriel Markel, who manages Markel Lumber Yard in New Orleans, sells wood for movie sets. He says movies are 25% of his wood business, and he gets wood from all over the state. Representatives of The Ranch Studios in Chalmette spoke of the impact in St. Bernard, 66 LOUISIANA FILM & VIDEO MAGAZINE
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in particular in the Violet area, where blighted property was turned into productive property. What we heard and saw is just the tip of the iceberg! Senator Neil Riser and Senator Jay Luneau were At the Louisiana Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs Hearing not happy with our testimonies. Senator Luneau shouted the State has, “No money!” I wish they were convinced by the mountains of testimonies, but all they wanted were numbers and statistics. Senator Troy Brown showed a lot of interest. He asked questions and wanted us to provide more information especially geographical breakdowns that showed how other businesses and the local economies beneﬁted. Senator Yvonne Dorsey also showed her support. Questions were also asked regarding collections, tracking, fraud, Sunshine and Transparency, reforms, star salaries, keeping our monies in state, etc. There was about a dozen or so bills passed last year tweaking the credits that addressed and answered those questions. It appears that some of the Senators were not even aware of this. Robert Vosbein, President of LFEA, issued the following statement: “Clearly our industry has experienced a serious downturn over the last 9 months primarily as a result of the legislative changes made last year which not only placed a cap of $180 million but placed the cap on the amount of tax credits that could be used every year. This was an approach that had never been used before and failed to take into account millions of dollars of tax credits already earned from ﬁlms that had been previously completed. This backlog of credits, the extent of which is still unknown, has caused uncertainty and a lack of predictability for ﬁlmmakers who have many other venues to select for their productions.” “We know that in the past the ﬁlm industry has been an economic engine for this state. In the most recent LED study, ﬁlm provided Louisiana with over $1 billion in sales, $760 million in wages, close to 13,000 jobs supported by ﬁlm and for every dollar spent, over $4.50 was spent in Louisiana.” “We believe that the incentive program can be repaired legislatively even given the current budget issues facing the state, and we are working with LED and key legislators to draft the necessary language changes to get ﬁlming back on track. We are very optimistic that we will be successful.” At this point it appears that there will be no special legislative session to deal with the cap; however, we do need to inform, unite, and continue to gather information to answer questions such as those asked by Senator Brown to prepare for the upcoming ﬁscal session in 2017. LFV
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