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