THE PUBLICIST: The Big Easy's financial lure is hard for filmmakers to ignore

So I'm driving down a street in New Orleans, and it's raining so hard I can't see 10 feet in front of the car. Suddenly a flash flood starts moving my vehicle sideways, and I'm no longer in control. Sort of like my life. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but this is the second movie in a row I've worked on whose host city experienced flooding. This wasn't nearly as bad as Prague last year, but it's still a little daunting to see the water move your car in a direction you don't care to go.

So I'm driving down a street in New Orleans, and it's raining so hard I can't see 10 feet in front of the car. Suddenly a flash flood starts moving my vehicle sideways, and I'm no longer in control. Sort of like my life. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but this is the second movie in a row I've worked on whose host city experienced flooding. This wasn't nearly as bad as Prague last year, but it's still a little daunting to see the water move your car in a direction you don't care to go.

I crawled out (it's a rental) through the window and joined some other revelers in a pickup truck ahead of me who were having an impromptu "tailgate" party. That's the good thing about New Orleans. There's always an excuse for a party. The bad thing about shooting in the Big Easy is that it rains nearly every day and it's hotter than blazes. It doesn't take long to lose your fast-paced walking style here; I'm traipsing along like the locals now. Why, then, are we here in the Crescent City fighting bad weather, heavy traffic, super-sized insects, and annoying road construction, when we could be filming in LA, enjoying healthy weekends at the beach instead of sinful Bourbon Street nights? It's not the gumbo that's drawing us to the Big Easy to shoot our films - though it is mighty fine stuff. It's the money. Louisiana offers attractive economic incentives to lure film productions. This is the third movie to shoot in the state this year, and more are on the way. Film production is touted as a high-profile, "clean" industry that has the added benefit of drawing more attention and tourists to the area. Not that this place needs more tourists. The aforementioned Bourbon Street was packed on Saturday night, and I think it easily reached its off-season peak of inebriated women baring their...um, womanhood. Again, no complaints, because if these young and immature (is 63 still considered young and immature? If you're a drunk 63, I mean) ladies discontinued such exhibitionism, well, then the terrorists win. And that's not going to happen on the Cajuns' watch. Anyway, like many other popular film locales - such as Toronto and Montreal - New Orleans isn't featured in the film: it doubles for a Midwestern city that isn't offering lucrative tax breaks. See how that works? We're leaving here next week, and I'll go back with two souvenirs: 10 extra pounds and the self-gleaned revelation that the answer is always Y-E-S in N.O.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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