Hollywood is coming to St. Rose early next year.
Quixote Studios has begun construction on the largest soundstage in the region at a cost of around $15 million. It will be located on Airline Highway in St. Rose and will eventually feature four soundstages that are estimated to encompass more than 90,000 square feet.
Construction on the project is being planned in two phases. The first phase is expected to open in January 2013 and will comprise of two soundstages at a combined size of 30,000 square feet.
The second phase of the project is anticipated to be made up of two sound stages at 30,000 square feet apiece in addition to special effects, production offices, a mill and other support facilities.
It is not a surprise that Quixote would pick the New Orleans area for a studio. Louisiana boasts some of the best tax credits for film production in the country. In 2010 more than 100 movie and TV projects were filmed in the area.
Quixote Studios CEO Mikel Elliott said the company looked at several options including sites in New Orleans and Harahan, but chose St. Rose for accessibility and safety.
"It just seemed to make sense. There are a couple of different ways to get from New Orleans out there. You can either take Airline Highway or take I-10 from Baton Rouge too, and you have I-310 coming down as well," Elliott said. "We looked in downtown New Orleans and there was no parking and maybe the warehouse looked OK, but the area might not have been entirely safe, so that was an issue as well."
Quixote Studios is not a new player in the region. A year ago they built the Studio Store in New Orleans, which they moved to St. Rose in July. Right now they have four employees at the St. Rose store that sells supplies to television and film producers.
"Anything that gets consumed on the set is called an expendable and that is what we sell out of that studio store. Itís very niche," Elliott said. "With that store we are almost in on every feature television show in the state."
By the time all construction is over, Quixote anticipates having ten local employees in all.
Corey Faucheux, director of Economic Development and Tourism for the parish, said he expects the studio to spur a boom of film-related development in the area.
"I think you may have some additional entries by industries that sell their services to production companies," Faucheux said. "Iíd like to see (Quixote) build not only phase one and two but maybe even a phase three once they see the businesses are there and they see the whole sector taking off."
An investment group has already bought a nearby plot of land and is expected to construct a hotel on the site.
Faucheux said the economic influence of Quixote Studios being built in the parish will be seen in the peripheral businesses associated with the site.
"It runs the whole gamut from even carpenters to build sets, lighting folks, trucks - there are fingers in this industry that reach it into many trades. We are hoping this not only impacts fulltime Quixote employees, but also these other trades. That also has a local spill over into our restaurants, coffee shops, hardware stores - it all spills over," Faucheux said. "Thatís why we are so happy they chose St. Rose."
Quixote Studios occupies more than 600,000 square feet of studio and workshop space in five locations in Los Angeles. The company employs more than 170 workers across Los Angeles, New York, Boston and New Orleans.
Elliott said they will use their existing Hollywood connections to attract productions to the St. Rose studios.
"We are a Hollywood based company so we have a lot of relationships out here in L.A. They start up (in Los Angeles) and then move into Louisiana," Elliott said. "We sort of know when they are starting up here in Los Angeles so thatís definitely one advantage we have over the local second line or other studios because we have a huge infrastructure in Los Angeles."
Elliott said he anticipates the studio could host up to ten productions a year, but it really depends on the size of the project. He believes that productions will start being scheduled at the space in the next month or so.
"It will probably happen maybe around November, a couple of months out," Elliott said. "If weíre open in January people will probably commit two months early."
When that first feature film begins shooting at Quixote Studios in 2013, it will join a long line of productions to be shot in the area.
St. Charles Parish has been a destination for film productions since a portion of the James Bond film "Live and Let Die" shot in Des Allemands in the early 1970s. In the last three years, the parish has hosted numerous other films including "Meeting Evil" starring Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson and "Jonah Hex" of which a portion was shot on Bayou Gauche Island. Other films include the forthcoming "The Hot Flashes" starring Brooke Shields and Daryl Hannah, "Parker" starring Jennifer Lopez, "12 Years a Slave" starring Brad Pitt and "The Paperboy" starring Matthew McConaughey.
Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the studio has the parishís full support.
"We are extremely grateful Quixote chose to develop the regionís largest soundstage in our community," St. Pierre said. "We will do everything we can to ensure that Mikel and his team are successful and that Quixote has a long and prosperous future in St. Charles Parish."
|Quixote Studios will build four soundstages in St. Rose on Airline Highway.|