Indywood is a film focused, tech startup. At first glance you might ask, what are you doing in New Orleans? Shouldn’t you be in Los Angeles or New York City—cities known for film production? Let us explain . . .
LA and NYC are the epicenters of film production in the USA—that’s precisely why we’re not launching from either of those locations. We want to introduce a new, decentralized model for film funding and distribution—empowering anyone, anywhere to make a movie. In the 20th century, American films were made in two cities. In the 21st century, we have the technology to make films anywhere. As an explorer and innovator in this new era, the birthplace Indywood should be anywhere but those two coastal film hubs.
New Orleans is a perfect fit. There is already a burgeoning film industry here—meaning that there are talented filmmakers ready to work—but the industry is young, ready for innovation, and in need of locally produced content.
The film industry in Louisiana was jump-started in 2003, when the state introduced tax incentives to attract film productions. It worked—ten years later, Louisiana has the third largest film economy in the country (I bet you can guess what the top two are), and the state is often called “Hollywood South.”
Indywood needs talented filmmakers to try our model, so it helps to be in a place with a thriving film industry. At the same time, Indywood plans to disrupt how that industry currently functions. In that respect, New Orleans is again an excellent match.
The problem with the Louisiana film industry is that most of the films taking advantage of the tax incentives come from out of state. Hollywood productions come to Louisiana to shoot, hire some locals to hold boom mics, feed the crew and do other grunt work, and then return to Hollywood to edit and release the film. This means that there are plenty of low-level production jobs available to Louisianans, but there are very few films being made, from concept to premier, by Louisiana filmmakers.
If Louisiana wants to have a film industry in its own right—not just a cheap place for Hollywood to shoot, but a place known for its own brand of filmmaking—there is still much work to be done.
When you take a step back and think about the film industry in New Orleans, it’s a little ridiculous. Please bare with me through a minor rant: The art of filmmaking essentially breaks down to storytelling, and it has become the most dominant storytelling medium of our times. Every culture has a need for powerful stories. In the United States, there are few places as teaming and rife with strong characters and powerful stories to tell as New Orleans. Being the birthplace of American music, the epicenter of the largest freed slave community in New World and the accumulative meeting point of a myriad of cultures (America’s unifying attribute), our country needs New Orleans to tell it’s stories! Instead, New Orleans filmmakers are working on Planet of the Apes III, 2 Guns and Jurasic Park VI.
Indywood is starting local. First, we’ve opened our own little theater to provide a physical space for New Orleanians to rally around local cinematic culture. Next, we will move online and launch a web platform to see Louisiana-made films. After that, we’re going to release a Crowdinvestment portal through which Louisiana filmmakers can raise production capital. And we want to help local filmmakers take advantage of the tax credits, so that tax payer money stays local! Once our model is working for Louisiana filmmakers, we’ll start spreading it to the world.