St. Charles Herald-Guide

Hitch your wagon to a star

By Jennifer Nall - November 8, 2006

BOUTTE - The film industry is flourishing in Louisiana and that means new, interesting and high-paying jobs are opening for St. Charles parishioners and others in "Hollywood South."

"Some jobs pay $20 to $45 an hour," says Malcolm Petal, CEO of New Orleans-based Lift Productions.† Lift plans to open the Film Factory, a production company for the editing of movies and related tasks.†

He told the Herald-Guide that you donít have to be an actor or actress to be part of the film industry and cash in on the boom.

"Any job from carpenters, make up artists and caterers will be available," says Petal, noting that his companyís new Film Factory will provide important services for the industry in southeastern Louisiana.

"The Film Factory will house a comprehensive training facility and also serve as Louisiana's first full distribution site," he says.

"Louisiana has an aggressive lead because we were one of the first states that offered film tax incentives and now we are building an infrastructure with the Film Factory," Petal says.

The Film Factory will open officially in the fall of 2008.

Production companies have flocked here because of the state's generous tax incentive law, which went into effect in 2002.

Hurricane Katrina delayed some productions being shot in and around New Orleans.

"Although the film industry slowed down after Hurricane Katrina, it has picked up since January," according to Alex Schott, executive director of the Governor's Office of Film and Television.

Schott says most of the production being done in state is in New Orleans and Shreveport.

Companies are now looking for places to do post production work in the state, which mainly involves editing and the addition of soundtracks.

"We need to focus on post production facilities in order to separate us from other states," says Schott.

"We are ahead of other states by a good three or four years," Schott adds.

Motion picture production executives say Louisiana ranks among the top with their tax incentive package. Many executives believe we are in direct competition with North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Currently, movies "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and "Homeland Security," starring Antonio Banderas and Meg Ryan, are being filmed in the state as well as "Rouge," a television drama.