New Orleans — Producer Scott Niemeyer’s independent Gold Circle Films can boast hits like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding’’ and “White Noise,’’ but he’s hoping his latest business venture, a post-production studio he wants to build in Algiers, will create an economic hit for his hometown.
Niemeyer has put together another company, Deep South, to bring that idea to life. He outlined the plans to the New Orleans Industrial Development Board earlier this week.
Niemeyer pointed out that film grew to be more than a $2 billion industry for Louisiana in 2011, a number he expects will be eclipsed by 2012 figures. Despite the success of Louisiana, especially the New Orleans area, in attracting the movie business, there’s still stiff competition, particularly from Atlanta, he said.
Movie production is extremely portable, he said, and the industry will shoot movies where it makes sense economically. But post-production work is not as portable, and a studio would provide the facilities and workforce needed for that part of filmmaking.
That would enable the city and state to capture production dollars that are now going elsewhere, he said.
The facility also could alleviate pressure on parts of the city that are now used as locations by creating, for example, a French Quarter set.
The proposed studio would be built in two phases on land under the Crescent City Connection that’s bisected by Mardi Gras Boulevard, he said. The first phase would be 262,000 square feet of stages, office and support facilities. The second phase would include media and educational facilities, he said.
While Deep South is a separate venture, Niemeyer said Gold Circle would be able to drive business to it.
Board member Darrel J. Saizan Jr. encouraged Niemeyer to hire local people and reach out to local universities and colleges that are turning out graduates with training in film. Niemeyer said that is part of what he wants to accomplish.
Board member M. Cleland Powell asked Niemeyer whether his project would go away if Louisiana retreats from the tax credits and incentives that it now offers the motion picture industry.
Niemeyer said it’s critical for Louisiana to stay competitive with other places, especially Georgia. He pointed to New Mexico and Michigan as states that fundamentally changed their rules and saw their business erode “overnight.”
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