Monday, February 18, 2013


You may be living in or near a famous landmark from a movie shot in New Orleans or in Louisiana.  It’s very possible given the fact that Louisiana’s film history dates back over 100 years.  So many movies have used our scenery, buildings, landmarks and unique culture that you may not even realize how close you are to being in the scene itself.
And you may not realize that this current filming boom is not the first.  Production of movies and film existed in the city and state long before any of us were born.(unless you were born in the 1800’s)

Most of this information would be lost if it were not for two enterprising people named Ed and Susan Poole who, by themselves, have taken on the colossal task of compiling decades of movie information.  They have written two books on the subject, have a movie poster website dedicated to Louisiana movie posters, and give numerous speeches and classes on our rich film history.  There part of a small but global group of researchers who research films for production companies and studios.  And yes, they are right here in the city of New Orleans.
They have teamed up with Nicholls State University to put on an first ever, extraordinary exhibit of our Louisiana Film History.  The list of recent well-known and popular movies is long and make for an exciting read, however, the list of movies that you would recognize, but didn’t know  were filmed here, is very long as well.  The exhibit is currently open at Nicholls State University and will run through June 21st.  There will also be an official opening March 4th.

Recently I sat down with Ed and Susan and discussed this new exhibit.
Is the interest in our film history gaining momentum and interest?

Simple answer – Yes. Fast Enough – NO. Every time we give a lecture on Louisiana Film History, we get a tremendous amount of thanks and new contacts. Of course, we wish it was moving a LOT faster. At times, we feel like we’re shouting in the wilderness. But, we know that it HAS to come for the Louisiana film industry to become more stabilized. A tremendous amount of jobs in California are in the history and archival information areas which is a base for other industries to build on. So, we continue to shout to try to get more attention.

Will the exhibit come to New Orleans?

I hope so, but it is not scheduled to go anywhere else at the moment. This exhibit at Nichols State is the first and only exhibit scheduled, but I hope to find a permanent location for the exhibit and I believe that it should be in New Orleans.

What is the connection to Nichols?

We have a one hour lecture on Louisiana Film History with movie trailers and posters that we present to academic groups and historical societies. We gave a lecture to the LaFourche Parish Historical Society and the archivist for Nichols was a member and present. He really liked our presentation so after the lecture, he came over and talked with us about an exhibit. He took us to the college and showed us their facility. In other words, it was actually THEIR idea.

Louisiana has a long history in film, what was the attraction before the film credits?

The first proposed tax credits weren’t until 1993 and they didn’t work. The first film production crew came to New Orleans almost 100 years before (1896). The first attraction was Mardi Gras. At that time, only the rich who could afford to travel were the only non-locals that were able to see Mardi Gras, so it was an automatic draw. But after they came for Mardi Gras, they saw a lot more. In 1929, when Evangeline was filmed, Edwin Carewe, the director, stated that the film HAD to be shot on location because the Louisiana setting couldn’t be reproduced in the studio. So, you could say, our climate, our diversity of people, our life style, our plantations, our voodoo, and much more. Where else will you find Cajun living, mardi gras, the French quarter, jazz, our famous cooking and above ground cemeteries - all in one place?

Why do you think we don't have paparazzi here with so many film shoots?

Paparazzi are part of a hype and promotion industry and the hype and agency groups, along with the supporting foundation aren’t here yet. And we are more laid back here than California, which I believe the celebrities enjoy.

What do want to see happen in New Orleans in regards to our film history?

We need markers for our major film productions for tourist and locals to be able to see what Louisiana has produced. This will immediately help build the tourist industry. We need preservation facilities to not only preserve Louisiana films but to reach beyond the state. We need facilities to create presentations and permanent and traveling exhibits for the public, schools, libraries and academic and historical organizations. We need a facility that not only the ‘learned and curious’ but also the general public can come to learn all areas of information on the Louisiana film industry.

We are working as fast as we can to create THAT facility.. AND HOPEFULLY it will be in New Orleans.

In addition,  we are now 3rd in new film production, only behind California and New York…and that’s great! But, all the attention is on new film production because it creates new – immediate money. But we CAN NOT AFFORD to ONLY look at new production if we are going to continue to grow.

The MPAA puts out a report each year on film production state by state. They haven’t released the 2012 figures yet, but if you look at the 2011 figures, it shows Louisiana with “8,655 direct jobs and $377.9 million in wages in Louisiana, including both production and distribution-related jobs. Over 3,400 of the jobs are production-related”

The 2012 figures are supposed to be a lot better. If you remember, Senator Landrieu praised the film commission for their great job last month. We supposedly had more new production in 2012 than Los Angeles. So why isn’t California upset at losing the new production?
Well, maybe the 2011 figures for California will give you a hint. Now remember, we are getting close to matching their new production figures. THEIR overall figures show California has “191,146 direct jobs and $17.0 billion in wages in California, including both production and distribution-related jobs. Over 129,000 of the jobs are production-related”.

So what’s the difference? The FOUNDATION that supports it. Let me give you a quick example. There has been recent discussion (problems?) about the production companies having to clean up after their production is over. In other words, what to do with all the props and sets? In California, there are salvage yards that snatch up ANYTHING after a production and sell them to new low budget production companies to save them money. WE DON’T HAVE THAT YET! We’re barely getting our first movie tours and even THOSE aren’t even marked for tourist to see.
We’re doing well with new production support. Companies like Hollywood Trucks is one of the fastest growing in the nation, but NOW we also have to focus on the support foundation to start getting the more stable, more reliable, foundation money.

If you would like to hear a radio interview with Ed and Susan discussing their new book, please click the link below.

For classes, group or special tours, please contact library archivist Clifton Theriot at (985) 448-4621 or email


Louisiana's Film History on display in new exhibit

A new exhibit at Nicholls State University highlights 100+ year old film history.  This exhibit is not just for the film buff, it is for everyone.  We need to know our history so that we can shape our future.  This exhibit connects Louisiana's rich film history and demonstrates why today's film industry is booming in Louisiana.  Watch this short video for times, dates and more details.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Than Just Cool Space

What were you doing the Friday before Mardi Gras weekend?  Well, if you were me, you were touring office space.  Don't ask, but yes, that what I was workers were running from office buildings with drinks in hand.  Hey, I serve my clients and friends well. I'm dedicated.  yeah, let's go with that.

However, I was fortunate to catch an architectural throw of sorts.  While it didn't come from a float, this little treat was actually inside of another, larger architectural package.  The Maritime Building, located at Carondelet and Common is part of the growing trend of transformations from office buildings to residential uses.  This trend was started a while back, however, it continues to be strong and growing, a sign of predictions made long ago.

As part of the spin off from this resurgence is ancillary uses such as restaurants, coffee shops, retail, parking garages, etc.  However, the office need has not totally disappeared.  People still work, that's how they pay for those new residential units.  But the average office has certainly changed, it has evolved, and what it now looks like is beta.

Beta New Orleans is a collaborative work space environment for the professional, start-up or part-time space user.  While it has the basics; fax, copy, mail, it also has the high tech, wireless, google TV, broadband.  And of course the amenities, pool, gym, Merchant Coffee, are a great escape and a must see. 

The online capabilities are something you don't find in similar spaces.  The iPhone interface, which allows you to reserve the conference room, make request, and most importantly: pay rent,  really defines the essence of this space. 

We operate differently in an office environment today.  We need those intangibles that make life easier and help us operate smoothly.  And the binding element for all of these components comes down to "design". 

Design is always overlooked, its just considered a finishing touch, something that makes a space "pop".  That may be true for a make over show, but when you are in a space everyday, working, creating, moving and shaking, you are affected by design. It is that intangible that can inspire and motivate you, creates a feeling inside of you that pushes you to think harder, dream bigger.  And that is what beta did for me. 

When you walk in, the bright colors and natural light wake the senses.  The high end cappuccino doesn't hurt either.  The lounge area rivals any boutique hotel or slick modern lobby.  The modern translucent corrugated office wall panels allow the muted light to softly cover the interior of the office spaces, while the work stations have views through the curved original windows of this historic and iconic New Orleans building. 

This space represents the old and the new.  It's truly like looking through a window into the past.  As we were there, looking down through those windows, a marching club of men in suits led by a brass band, pass by headed to the quarter, as they have done for decades.  Some things never change.