Three Reasons Why Indywood Loves New Orleans
I’m confident that anyone anywhere can start a successful movie theater. But for Indywood, New Orleans has been the perfect launch city.
Here are three reasons why we at Indywood love this place.
1) It Isn’t LA or NYC.
As an aspiring filmmaker, I couldn’t be more grateful that New Orleans is becoming a viable place to build a career.
I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since the age of twelve, but I always thought I’d have to be in either LA or NY to make a living. Neither option appealed to me. In Hollywood, most likely I’d get lost in sysuphusian “ladder climbing.” In New York, I’d probably work as a barista while pretending to be a starving-artist filmmaker.
Neither city seemed like it would foster my creative spirit.
I came to New Orleans with vague hopes that “Hollywood South” might actually become a real film scene. I thought I might be able to get some jobs here that would jump-start either an East or West coast career.
But six years later, I’m dead set on staying in New Orleans. Hollywood South is real. A lot of my friends make a living in the film industry down here.
But even more than that, I stay in New Orleans because I sense that a great indie filmmaking renaissance is about to happen here.
The first sentence of the statute that created the Louisiana Film Tax Credit, which subsequently brought Hollywood to Louisiana, states that “the purpose of these tax credits is to create a self-supporting film industry in Louisiana.”
Well, it’s not self-supporting yet, because all the real jobs are still coming from out of state. But we’ve made a great start here in Louisiana, and if we’re really going to create a new “self-supporting” film industry in the South, I want to be a part of it
2) It’s Fertile Soil for Planting a New Dream.
New Orleans has always been a city of dreamers, but in the aftermath of the storm, the city is particularly open to re-imagining itself. Indywood has benefited from the way that people here embrace startup companies.
When we first opened, our building basically looked abandoned. The ceiling was falling down and was covered with mold. Strange smells wafted from a dark hole behind the movie screen. And stray cats tended to show up inside, especially when it rained. (One night last summer, two tiny, drenched kittens squeezed through a crack in the back wall to get out of a downpour. Now named Cowboy and Mathilde, they’re fat and happy, living with my sister and business partner Hayley.)
We’re grateful and a little astounded that, even with our early funkiness, the first intrepid New Orleanians to discover us were enthusiastic about and supportive of the Indywood dream. “Oh, this is so New Orleans!” they’d say, looking up into the mold.
Not only is the city supportive of new, creative endeavors, the film industry that is emerging here also has a uniquely open character.
I am not the only aspiring filmmaker who has come to New Orleans in search of new hope during our current Dark Age of cinema.
Working at Indywood, I meet people daily who say, “I just moved here. I work in the film industry.”
We’re young, we’re ambitious, we’re hopeful (in contrast to the jadedness which pervades LA and NY), and we’re all united in our choice to not be in LA or NY. We cast our lot in with New Orleans. We’re all still meeting each other, but together we are slowly build a self-supporting film industry.
3) It’s Bursting with Creativity.
New Orleans is a hearty yet mysterious muse for anyone with a creative spark.
There are so many stories to be told about this city. So many characters. So many corners to look around. So many strange shadows under the oak trees.
The sky is often orange and purple.
And recently, I almost got shot.
In New Orleans, life and death dance closely and sensually together. It’s humbling and inspiring to live here.
I don’t understand this city. I never will. But I plan to spend my life discovering it—sometimes with a video camera.
So why does Indywood love New Orleans?
Because it’s an alternative to the LA and NYC film industries – and it has a growing, independent-movie scene of its own. Because it enthusiastically supports our little art-house cinema. Because it’s a treasure trove of creative inspiration. And because it has kittens that squeeze through the cracks in the walls on rainy nights.
Why would we be anywhere else?