Making Movies In Our Own Backyard
By F.J. Wilson
Mississippi has offered film makers a tax incentive of 20% on money spent in this state. We can benefit from the film industry. We have hosted large films before; we should be inundated with film crews and the support services a movie brings.
For the most part American movies, not being filmed in the greater Los Angeles area are being filmed all over the United States, Canada, New Zealand and parts of Europe. Only a few studios still reside inside the Hollywood City limits. Paramount Studios still stands like a bastion to the old guard, fenced and protected from the surrounding crime filled streets. The same streets which used to be home to studio workers and their one car families living close to the studio so Dad or Mom could walk to work
Moving back to South Mississippi after working in the film industry for the last twenty three yrs, was a huge culture shock. Leaving the frantic life of the huge cities of New York and Los Angeles then slowly melding back into the peaceful ways of the south was an adjustment I gladly accepted. Instead of which free-way to take home from the studio, I now wonder which fruit would make the best jam and if the porch swing needs painting. To some this may be a classic choice of life over stress, but to me the prospect of living without a city was daunting. In early 2003 I worked on “Run Away Jury” in New Orleans at the same time Louisiana offered a 15% tax incentive for studios to film in that state. Since then, the films have come to Louisiana by the eighteen wheeler truck loads. No longer is California the center of films, it is now, the “grande dame” of the film history, but only one of a number of states who make movies. In the last several years Louisiana has produced more motion pictures than in the history of the state. There are feature films spending millions of dollars and boosting the economy in the areas in which they shoot. They are not stories about Louisiana, but stories set all over the country, just filmed in the Pelican State. The film makers come to the tax incentives so they can spend more money on their project, not because the film is set in that town, county or state. There is no reason why Mississippi can’t share in this new movie industry pie. It’s time the industry saw us as not just the flat delta of “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”, or the front porch venues of the past segregation and violence, but a state as diverse as any other. I recently finished a film in Louisiana. The action takes place in a Virginia, but we filmed around Shreveport. The film could’ve been made here in Columbus, Natchez, Biloxi or even Pascagoula. In the end, the producers sent a splinter unit to The University of Virginia to film the front of that beautiful campus. What a shame they’d never seen the USM campus or Ole Miss or any of our old world college campuses; they could’ve saved themselves a lot of money, and filmed right here.