Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Film Making Renaissance of Southwest Louisiana

          Last week the Arts Council of Southwest Louisiana's monthly board meeting featured Clay Hebert making a presentation on behalf of Lake Charles' own John Veron of Sternwood & MacGuffin, a Los Angeles-based film production company, in its cultural spotlight segment.  Clay enlightened the board on all things Sternwood & MacGuffin including the upcoming release of East Stackton, as well as many exciting ideas regarding the up and coming film industry in Louisiana.

          East Stackton is a short horror film shot primarily in the Southwest Louisiana area.  According to Veron, a founder of Sternwood & MacGuffin and the producer of East Stackton, the film cost roughly $50,000 to produce and looks like it cost three times as much thanks mostly to the production value of our local atmosphere.  Along with the great scenery and colorful local businesses, John commented on the immense local talent here in the Lake Area, reporting that every part but one in East Stackton was filled by a local actor.  

          John and Clay both agree that the potential for growth in the film industry here in Southwest Louisiana is vast.  Veron commented that it seems every time he is speaking with a producer in L.A., they talk about some new project they are shooting in New Orleans or Shreveport, and that there is absolutely no reason why this cannot be the case with Southwest Louisiana.  The reason we are such fertile ground for film production has to do partly with our tax environment, which according to John, "is the most favorable tax environment for filmmakers in the country."  John went on to tell us that if he spends over 1 million dollars on a film, he receives 30% of that money back in the form of tax breaks. 

          The second reason for the burgeoning film industry here in Southwest Louisiana is the incredible number of eager young professionals in this state who are willing to do great work on set.  John had this to say on the matter; "When I show people our movie out in L.A., they all say the same thing: our locations look great, and we're incredibly lucky we got that many background actors.  Other than some big-city, skyscraper stuff that you'd have to shoot in New Orleans, the Lake Area offers everything you'd need to put together a great looking low-budget production."

          The film industry has an incredible amount to offer our area in artistic terms, as well as monetarily.  It was so inspiring to hear John and Clay rave about the quality and abundance of local talent here in our town, and to let us in on all the current film projects that are happening all around us at this very moment.  To me, however, the most exciting aspect of their presentation was the potential for monetary benefit to our community through the production of film here in Southwest Louisiana.  It seems to me that just as film making is arguably the most expensive form of artistic expression, it also yields arguably the highest return on investment in our community.  There term "Cultural Economy" is one that you will be hearing much of in the near future if you haven't already.  Don't be surprised if the film industry plays a key role in the re-emergence of art as a viable and reliable form of economic advancement in and throughout Southwest Louisiana. 

To learn more about East Stackton visit their website at 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Friday Reading Series Presents Patrice Melnick

On Friday, August 3rd, the First Friday Reading Series presents a poetry reading by Patrice Melnick at 7 p.m. at the Porch Coffee House. The Porch partnered with the Arts & Humanities Council to present this reading series which features poets and writers on the first Friday of each month, and the public is invited to attend.  The Porch will also host an Open Mic session following the Reading. 

Writer, arts administrator, educator, and business owner Patrice Melnick is a veritable jack of all trades in the Louisiana writing community.  Melnick taught English and Creative writing at Xavier University in New Orleans for 13 years, until relocating to Grand Coteau after Hurricane Katrina.  Melnick‘s essays and poems have appeared in Grain, The Xavier Review, and Prism International among other literary journals.  Melnick also established the Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective in 2010, a nonprofit organization which promotes the literary arts in her area.  Patrice Melnick holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.   

The Porch is located at 4710 Common Street in Lake Charles, and live music follows each reading. For more information about the reading series, contact the Arts Council at (337) 439-2787 or visit

Monday, July 16, 2012

ICM Presents Summer Film Series

The Imperial Calcasieu Museum presents their annual Summer Film Series which brings you classic movies with discussions lead by members of the community. This Thursday offers the next installation of the series with a screening of The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao at 6 p.m. The movie will be hosted by Jim Serra of KPLC. Admission is $4 for non-members and free to Museum members. There will be snacks, beer, and wine for a very low price. 

The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao was directed by George Pal and starred Tony Randall in the title role. The 1964 movie was adapted from the 1935 fantasy novel by Charles Beaumont. In the early 20th century, Dr. Lao brings his circus to the town of Abalone. The town is under threat due to a break in the water supply system and wealthy businessman Clint Stark advises everyone that he's prepared to buy them all out, lock, stock, and barrel. What he doesn't tell anyone is that the railroad will run through the town in less than a year's time. The local newspaperman, Ed Cunningham, and the librarian, Angela Benedict, both think Stark is up to no good. Dr. Lao spins his magic and the good townsfolk can have their fortune told: be introduced to Pan, the God of Joy, or entertained by Merlin the magician and his tricks. Dr. Lao gets them to look at life differently and not to sell out to the highest bidder.

The Museum's Summer Film Series will continue with Yellow Submarine on Thursday, July 26th, and Barbarella on Thursday, August 2nd. For more information, call 439-3797.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Christmas in July Artisan's Fair

Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court #1980 will host its second annual Christmas in July Artisan's Fair on Friday and Saturday, July 13th and 14th, at the Immaculate Conception Church Hall, located at 2700 Maplewood Drive in Sulphur. Hours on Friday will be 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
More than 30 vendors will offer art, jewelry, home decorations and more.  There will also be a bake sale.  Lunch will be available both days for $5.00.  Enjoy pulled-pork sandwiches, chips and a soft drink.  Also enjoy the bake sale, door prizes and face-painting. 
Free Admission!!
Vendors include Lori DesOrmeaux , Miche Purses; Jo Adams, jewelry; Raejean Clark German, ARTy Bags; Sharon Stein, Family-name established hand-painted canvas, Pam LeBleu, jewelry; Clarence Boudreaux, Gifts & Collectibles; Anne Shirley, Paintings; Tricia Bertrand, jewelry; Chrissie Gubancsik, Gabby Goodies; Leroy Thibodeaux, Cajun Art; Connie Stutes, Heavenly Dewdrops; Roxanne Nutt, Personalized Music CD & DVD, Jack & Rita Brossette, wood art & pigskins; Betty Norcross, Scentsy; Audrey Stelly, Thirty-One Gifts; Maribeth Rumery, Paintings; Josan Miller, JM Designs (jewelry); Gwen Auld, Bags; Anita Ahrens, Pottery; Geoff & Debbie Russell, Photographic prints & greeting cards; Peggy LeBlanc, Bracelets; Mark John, Studio Creations, Allison Andrus, Jewelry; Sarah Rizer, Christmas Wreaths and Animal items; James Guidry, Pantano Cooking Wine; and the Seaux-N-Seaux Sisters, Sallye Coco, Nancy Derouen and Sarah Miller.
May Hill, Barbara Yates, Marcia Plauche, Rita Marler, Joan Benoit, Sharon Kress and Debbie Russell will be at the CDA booth, which will offer RADA Knives, bags, crocheted items, quilts, etc.  These ladies will be raffling a quilt they made, with the proceeds benefitting our CDA Kid, Rebecca Granger.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the numerous charitable organizations the CDA court supports.

Abercrombie Gallery Features Gerry Wubben Survey

Monday, July 9, 2012

Children's Theatre Co. Offers Shakespeare Workshop

The Children's Theatre Company presents Midsummer Fun! as part of the next Summer Starz Series. This theatre workshop teaches children the language and ideas of William Shakespeare. Students perform excerpts from some of Shakespeare's most popular plays while experiencing the technical aspects of lighting, set designs, and creating costumes. The workshop concludes with a free public performance starring all of the students.

The workshop, open to boys and girls ages 5 to 18, will be held on July 23-27 and costs $85. No experience is needed for the workshop. All workshops have limited enrollment and are held at Central School Arts & Humanities Center (809 Kirby Street).

For registration information, contact the theatre at (337) 433-7323 or visit

Friday, July 6, 2012

Calcasieu Libraries Host Page Turner Adventures

Comedy team Riley Roam and Kenny Mikey will entertain with the Adventures of Page Turner, “World Famous Storyologist” in Calcasieu Parish Public Library locations July 16 - 20. A cross between Indiana Jones and Mary Poppins, Page Turner travels the world collecting, telling and writing stories, In “The Great Pizza Contest”, they will tell a hilarious tale of conflict resolution. All library programs are free and open to the public.
The Page Turner Adventures can be seen at the following times, dates and locations:
Monday, July 16:
  • 10 a.m. at the Sulphur Regional Library, 1160 Cypress St., 721-7141.
  • 2 p.m. at the DeQuincy Library, 102 W. Harrison St., 786-4213 (DeQuincy residents) or 721-7087.
Tuesday, July 17:
  • 10 a.m. at the Central Library, 301 W. Claude St., 721-7116.
  • 2 p.m. at the Carnegie Memorial Library, 411 Pujo St., 721-7084.
Wednesday, July 18:
  • 10 a.m. at the Moss Bluff Library, 261 Parish Road, 721-7128.
  • 2 p.m. at the Iowa Library, 107 E. 1st St., 582-3597 (Iowa residents) or 721-7101.
Thursday, July 19:
  • 10 a.m. at the Fontenot Memorial Library, 1402 Center St., Vinton, 721-7095.
  • 2 p.m. at the Starks Library, 113 S. Hwy. 109, 743-6560 (Starks residents) or 721-7107.
Friday, July 20:
  • 10 a.m. at the Westlake Library, 937 Mulberry St., 721-7113.
  • 2 p.m. at the Epps Memorial Library, 1320 N. Simmons St., 721-7090. 
Who makes the best pizza in the town of Mozzarella - Vincent Van Dough or Leonardo Da Munchi?
When everyone in town takes sides and begins arguing, Mayor Ann Chovi decides to hold the Great Pizza Contest. The entire audience becomes the main character in this hilarious tale, and helps Mayor Ann Chovi decide once and for all who makes the best pizza in town! The Great Pizza Contest is presented by the Emmy Award Winning Team at Page Turner Adventures, and based on the book by Riley Roam. The books will be available and Riley will autograph books after the show.
Riley Roam plays the intrepid Storyologist, and her bumbling assistant  is played by former Ringling Brothers clown Kenny Mikey. The Emmy award winning duo has wowed thousands of children at schools, libraries, and theaters nationwide with their one-of-a-kind brand of educational entertainment.
The duo’s  iParenting Award winning video series “This is ONLY a Test!” is seen in schools across the
country and their productions have aired on FOX Kids, PBS, The Travel Channel and at Scholastic Book Fairs throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Riley and Kenny were recently asked to partner with the International Reading Association as video hosts and online content producers where they are excited to share their motto: “When You Read, Every Day is an Adventure!”
This program is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA.
For information on the programs, services and resources of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library, please visit us on the web at or call 337-721-7116.