One of the biggest questions I get when talking to folks out of town about the Louisiana Film Prize is “Why Shreveport?” It’s a valid question. I mean, when you think Louisiana, you think New Orleans, you think LSU in Baton Rouge – things that have and continue to be beacons for Louisiana to the nation. So why Shreveport-Bossier – a small twin city community of less than 300,00 people? The answer is simple: Location, location, location.
As anyone from the area will tell you, Shreveport-Bossier and northwest Louisiana are incredibly beautiful places to shoot films. This is particularly true in the spring, when the shooting window for the Film Prize is open. Northwest Louisiana has been a hotbed for film production since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with over 100 motion pictures, TV shows, and documentaries produced here in the last 5 years. Movies from New York to L.A. with huge shooting schedules and complicated logistics like The Guardian, Battle Los Angeles, The Mist, Leaves of Grass, Drive Angry, Super and Straw Dogs to name a few. Say what you want about these movies, but they shot here on location and no one watching all over the world would know any differently. There are quarries, dunes, forests, rolling hills, acres and acres of crops, rural communities, highways, shanty towns, a wave tank, and a downtown that has doubled for the biggest cities in the country (New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, etc)… and it’s all at your fingertips.
So what to 20th Centuty Fox, Sony Pictures, MGM, Weinstein, Dimension, Touchstone, Millennium, Screen Gems, and others know that you don’t? For starters, permits in Shreveport-Bossier City are free, public locations are free, city property filming is free, and free water access to boot. People here bend over backwards to help you out, and, of course, there’s the world-famous southern hospitality (which is totally real, by the way). There are four sound stages in Shreveport, full grip/electric rental facilities, there are local camera rentals, experienced crew, and a wide base of talent.
If you’re thinking to yourself… “What I want to do is pretty intense and would require all sorts of closures or traffic control” and I don’t have quite the budget of Battle: Los Angeles… well that’s not a problem either. I’ve personally burned a car for a shoot in the middle of downtown with street closure, permits, safety gear, experienced VFX supervisor and all for less than $500 and a little elbow grease. Where else can you do that? Not many places I’d imagine.
Still not convinced? I’m not sure what more I can say. If “free” and “bend over backwards” and “southern hospitality” don’t do the job, I’m not sure what will.
Oh wait… there’s that $50,000 grand prize for best film.
All that for spending a few days in sunny Shreveport-Bossier. You can do your pre and post at home. And when the final 20 films are picked, everyone comes back for a kick-ass weekend in October of crazy parties, music, screenings, and whatnot where the judges and public vote and the winner is announced through a wild 50/50 vote between judge panel and audience.
It might be a bit of a trek for some, but once you come and shoot here, you’ll fall in love with it. Louisiana has 30% tax credits for films that shoot here over $300k, and the Shreveport-Bossier will kick in an additional 2.5% on expenditures within city limits. So while your short probably isn’t going to come close to that budget, it goes to show that these cities are in it for the long haul. So come shoot your short, get a sense of the area, take a stab at $50k, and maybe you’ll love it so much here that you’ll want to come back. I know you will.