The Right Stuff - Yeager's Last Flight

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Louisiana Film Studios - Times-Picayune

Abandoned Elmwood warehouse to become largest film studio east of Mississippi River

by Mike Scott, The Times-Picayune movie critic
Sunday March 29, 2009, 9:49 PM

At first, the script called for recasting the old Winn-Dixie warehouse complex in Elmwood into a shiny new Hollywood-style studio -- soundstages, a commissary, a back lot, maybe even a palm tree or two -- over several months of construction.

The 25-acre facility, with more than 500,000 square feet of warehouse space -- which officials said would make it the biggest studio this side of Albuquerque, N.M. -- would undergo a $40 million, tip-to-tail overhaul and reopen late this summer as the region's largest one-stop-shop for TV and film productions.

If they built it, the "Field of Dreams"-inspired thinking went, film and TV projects would come.

The local production industry, however -- that rare thriving sector of the local economy -- couldn't wait.

So with the star-studded action film "The Expendables" and the indie adventure "Dead of Night" coming to town this spring and in need of studio space, the ambitious script for the facility has undergone an on-the-fly rewrite. It is now open for business, months earlier than planned.

"They were knocking on our door," studio president and New Orleans native Dan Forman said. "The films that were calling on us, we didn't want to turn them away. If you tell them no, they won't come back."

For two weeks in late January and early February, the heavily vandalized site that has been idle for more than four years -- aside from a brief stint as a set for "Meet the Spartans" in 2007 and "Cirque du Freak" in 2008 -- was rushed back into commerce, with targeted renovations focusing on the parts of the facility needed by "The Expendables" and "Dead of Night."

"We didn't even have lights back here until two weeks ago," Forman said during a recent tour of one of the soundstage areas. "The buildings had been stripped of everything: copper plumbing, wires. It was ravaged."

Things are brighter now, and crews for both films have been tackling pre-production work on the Louisiana Film Studios campus for several weeks. Cameras and a cadre of stars will begin arriving this week as eight weeks of principal photography gets under way on the supernatural thriller "Dead of Night," inspired by the Italian horror comics series "Dylan Dog" and starring "Superman Returns" actor Brandon Routh.

"The Expendables" -- starring Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the script and will also direct, Mickey Rourke, Forest Whitaker, Jet Li and Jason Statham -- will begin its eight-week local shoot April 27 after three weeks in Brazil.

The buildings they will use won't be nearly as shiny and spiffy as the artist's renderings displayed on an easel in Forman's still-unrenovated office.

"To me it's kind of like it's starting to feel real," studio CEO and project spearhead Wayne Read said. "It's not ideally the way we wanted to launch it. (But) 'The Expendables' wanted the space and we were going to lose them to another market. It was a two-week window where we said, 'If we do this, will you come?'"

Dink Adams was sweating.

His company, Cinelease, one of the largest movie lighting and grip equipment rental companies in the country, was shifting its Louisiana base of operations from Shreveport to the Louisiana Film Studios facility in Elmwood. There was heavy lifting being done, thus the glaze on his forehead. Adding to it were the logistical headaches that accompany any moving day.

But he wasn't complaining. As fond as Adams and Cinelease are of Shreveport -- the company will maintain a smaller operation there -- from a business standpoint, he characterized the move to the Louisiana Film Studios site as a no-brainer.

"This is where the shows are," he said, explaining the move, which he estimated will bring eight to 10 full-time jobs with it. "The last four shows we did last year were in New Orleans. The first three we're doing this year are in New Orleans."

That's music to the ears of Forman and Read, and it fits perfectly into their vision of the studio campus functioning as a home to a collection of film-industry vendors, small production companies and other businesses that can offer on-site support to projects such as "The Expendables" and "Dead of Night."

"The vision of this place started as a community of film," Forman said. "What we saw in other places was a community of filmmakers, a hub of filmmaking. We don't really have that" in New Orleans.

There are other production studios in the area -- the UNO-run Nim's Center, as well as the 90,000-square-foot Second Line Stages taking shape in the Lower Garden District -- but nothing with the size or business model of Louisiana Film Studios.

"The analogy I use," Read said, "is a studio is like a hotel for your production: You might need room service, you might need to go downstairs and have a meeting."

Joshua Throne, the unit production manager for "The Expendables," said the concept of everything in one place is an attractive one.

"You have your offices, you will have some sort of stage or warehouse facility, you will have your mill, you will have your sets. Generally, outside the studio area, you won't find these in a single, condensed area."

So if a cast or crew member needs to go from the business offices to, say, one of the production's sets, it usually means driving through traffic.

"New Orleans presents its own challenges and expenses that go along with it," Throne said. "There are creative advantages that go along with shooting here -- you don't have diversity of looks in other places -- but you have more traffic, more congestion, potholes."

In an industry where time is money, that is not a minor consideration.

Without the Louisiana Film Studios setup, staging a production the size of "The Expendables" in New Orleans "would have been difficult," Throne said. "We would have been more scattered. Having a central hub like this has been extremely good for our situation."

To hear Forman tell it, the rank-and-file crew members are just as happy. "The reason we know we're doing something right," he said, "is when we walk through the sets, the crews are putting their arms around us and saying, 'Thanks for doing this.'¤"

On a wall in Forman's office hangs a dry-erase board listing upcoming productions considered potential clients for Louisiana Film Studios, as well the names of potential permanent tenants, in the mold of Cinelease. There is a healthy number of names on the board.

But Forman and Read know a lot of work must be done before Louisiana Film Studios comes even close to resembling the optimistic vision reflected on the easel-mounted artist's rendering in the corner of Forman's office.

"Our goal is, after 'Expendables' and 'Dead of Night,' is to slow down" and get back to molding the facility into the original vision, Forman said.

As it stands now, aside from the Louisiana Film Studios sign on the facade, the Edwards Avenue facility still looks a lot more like a grocery warehouse complex than a movie studio.

The high-ceilinged warehouse-cum-soundstages are still fairly primitive, little more than shells. Much of the office space still needs overhauling. A pair of communal gathering areas -- a break room that will retain its Winn-Dixie decor as an homage to the building's former life, and "the Who Dat Lounge," complete with fleur-de-lis design on the floor -- are in various stages of construction. The future commissary is just that -- in the future.

But there are signs of progress.

Inside one of the hangar-like soundstages last week, the fuselage of a military aircraft was being prepped for use in "The Expendables." A ship set will rise in a parking lot just beyond the armed studio security guards who could easily double as extras in a Stallone film.

Out back, a bulldozer was grading the blank-slate back lot area in preparation for its first set piece: a Brazilian palace-fortress complex. "We're building a replica of a palace we're shooting in Brazil," Throne said. "One we can manipulate and actually destroy."

Studio officials haven't decided what shape the back lot area will take after "The Expendables" leaves. Maybe parts of the Brazilian fortress will stay. A New York City skyline could be added. A French Quarter set is another possibility.

"We have a lot of work to do," Forman said. "We keep changing our vision because we see the needs of projects that we have."

But their dream factory is becoming reality, and Read said he hopes outsiders take notice.

"When the industry looks at us from the outside," he said, "my hope and prayer is they say, 'Look, Louisiana is stepping up. They've been talking about doing a studio in the New Orleans area for years -- and now it's happening.'"

Movie critic Mike Scott be reached at mscott@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3444. Comment or read past stories at nola.com/movies.

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Carl Sagan's Cosmos

Carl Sagan's Cosmos is available for viewing on Hulu

In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.

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Yuri's Night 2009

Yuri's Night 2009 kicks off April 4th and lasts until April 12th!

Yuri’s Night is a celebration of humanity’s achievements in space. Each April 12, people from around the world come together to mark the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight into space (in 1961) and the first launch of the US Space Shuttle (in 1981). Everyone can participate, so come and join us in celebrating our past–and our future–in outer space!

Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate two separate space exploration milestones. The first milestone was the launch of the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The second milestone was the launch of the first Space Shuttle, STS-1, on April 12, 1981.

- From Wikipedia

You can find a list of parties at the official website or just google Yuri's Night and find links to various cities' Yuri's Night Parties.

My current wallpaper:

If I could organize it, there would be a screening of some space doc hosted by the New Orleans Film Society followed by a party with plenty of Atom Punk imagery.


Get Excited and Make Things


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Comics for Kids

First, Boom! Studios now has a kids line with books based on Pixar properties and The Muppet Show:

Next up is Toon Books, a publisher with books designed to get kids into reading comics. All the books are original (I hope to see Boom! doing some original kids books soon):

Owly by Andy Runton is one I have bought several of. Good book which in some ways forces kids to be a part creator since there is no dialogue:

Jellaby is one I have yet to read
, but it always gets brought up when good comics for kids is mentioned:

Finally there is the Johnny DC line for kids. The site is pretty much non existent, but the ling features some good books with SuperFriends, Scooby Doo, Tiny Titans, Supergirl" Cosmic Adventurs int he 8th Grade, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam.



Your People - Corruption/Care Forgot

Your people are a bunch of pussies and barely suffered anything.

What the hell do you know?!?! Just cause no one made a movie about our wars doesn't mean we didn't go through shit.

I would disagree.

Fuck off. Your people didn't do squat until the Americans showed up.

Oh go fuck yourself. We kicked everyone's ass for quite a few years. Not our fault they kept coming in waves and wanted it so bad. Beat the Japanese, the French, kept the Chinese at bay,

Point for her.

Drink more. Speak less.

Will do.

Really, my people have been ignored for centuries. And people only paid attention somewhat when we are under communist rule and then over threw it.

And then re-elected the bastard who did the communist ruling. And you only over threw him when everyone else was doing it. Not like you really had a revolution fervor sweep the nation.

Fuck you we fought for years.

Bull shit. You 'fought' so you could get a little extra cash. Meanwhile you made sure to keep up some vital coke routes.

Oh yeah, cause the Golden Triangle doesn't run into your country.

Doesn't run through the whole country jackass.

Ladies, I will have you know, your countries are both piss compared to mine.

Aw Christ, who let him drink the Jameson's again?

My country as been under assault from the English-

For over a 1,000 bloody years-

Good you know this!

I believe we have heard this spiel before.

THE KID (bad Irish accent)
Then you should both quit yer fucking whining. My country has been under assault by the English for 1,000 bloody years.

Aren't you only half Irish?

And several generation in? What is that little rant Warren Ellis has about St Patrick's Day: If you were born in America, you’re not Irish, you’re fucking American. Deal with it.

Despite what the great old bastard says, you pagan heathens may both shut the fuck up now. They tried to kill us all. But they couldn't do that. They tried to fuck us out of existense. But being English they couldn't do it. Then they tried to starve us to death. Still couldn't get rid of us.

This wasn't that interesting the first time.

They took away our language and our land. And does anyone care? NO! The fucking English get everything they want. And we poor Irish die three time over digging your fucking canals.

Oh Jesus.

Like a whiny fucking baby. You have never even been there!

You know, this is the problem. We are ignored. We have suffered the most. But because you pathetic people need the English for some reason you ignore us and our suffering.

* * * * *

The actual Warren Ellis St Patrick's Day Rant:
The next person to wish me a happy St Pat’s Day will have their ISP anonymously informed that they download pictures of dogs fucking babies. I’ve slept with Irish girls and gotten drunk in Belfast, which makes me more Irish than 99% of you — and, whoops, here’s the clue train pulling up to the station, and it says I’m not Irish and neither are 99% of you so you can stick St Pat’s Day up your arse.

If you want to celebrate St Pat’s today, eat a raw potato, build a house out of peat and get yourself shot by an Englishman.

And guess what? If you were born in America, you’re not Irish, you’re fucking American. Deal with it.

(Though I still advise American tourists in Europe to tell people they’re Canadian at all times.)

This was your Daily Truth. Please return to your duties. Thank you.

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Arcade Fire - Wake Up

Somethin' filled up
my heart with nothin',
someone told me not to cry.

But now that I'm older,
my heart's colder,
and I can see that it's a lie.

Children wake up,
hold your mistake up,
before they turn the summer into dust.

If the children don't grow up,
our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.
We're just a million little gods causin' rain storms turnin' every good thing to

I guess we'll just have to adjust.

With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
I can see where I am goin' to be
when the reaper he reaches and touches my hand.

With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
I can see where I am goin’
With my lightnin' bolts a glowin'
I can see where I am, go-go, where I am

You'd better look out below


Where the Wild Things Are Poster



Nash Edgerton Short Films



The Square trailer:



Books in 2009

Prince of Thieves
Finn McCool's Football Club

Story from the Times-Picayune on the book.

This pic by Ian McNulty is at the front of the book:

It is from his book A Season of Night.

Finn McCool's official site.

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Bumpy Pitch Spring 2009


Current Wallpaper - Smokey and the Bandit


Public Enemies Poster



Love The Beast


Cassady's Sherlock Holmes

From Dynamite Entertainment:

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Louisiana Production - 3.1.09

The state's list of movies in production for the beginning of March, 2009, and contact info (remember to also check SolomonStreetFilms, Craigslist, and the New Orleans Film Commission for more info and projects):

Welcome to (225) 342-FILM, the official hotline of Louisiana


Here's what's happening for the first week of March 2009:

The independent feature film Leonie starring Emily Mortimer is in pre-production in Metairie with shooting scheduled for April 13 through May 15. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at leoniemovie@ gmail.com.

The Midgard Entertainment and Red Pictures feature film Punishment is in pre-production in Hammond with shooting scheduled from June 1 through July 1. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at punishment@rocketmail.com.

The Warner Bros. feature film Jonah Hex starring Josh Brolin and John Malkovich is in preproduction in the New Orleans area with shooting scheduled from mid-April through the end of June. Resumes for crew and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at jonahhexnola@gmail.com.

The Nu Image/Millennium feature film The Expendables starring Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li and a host of others is in pre-production in Jefferson Parish and the New Orleans area with shooting scheduled for the this spring. Resumes for crew only and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at theexpendablesmovie@gmail.com.

The independent feature film Dead of Night starring Brandon Routh is in pre-production in the New Orleans area with approximately seven weeks of principal photography scheduled to begin the first week of April. Crew resumes only are being accepted by e-mail at deadofnightcrewresumes@gmail.com.

The independent feature film The Chameleon starring Famke Jannsen and Ellen Barkin is shooting in Baton Rouge through March 6. Inquiries are being accepted by fax at (225) 610-1670 (no headshots please).

The Nu Image/Millennium feature film Cool Dog is in pre-production Shreveport with shooting scheduled from February 17 through mid-March. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at cooldogproductions@gmail.com.

The independent feature film My Last Goodbye is in pre-production in the Lafayette area with ten weeks of shooting set to begin March 30. Resumes and headshots are being accepted by email at wxartinc@gmail. com.

The independent feature film American Gospel is in development in the Baton Rouge with shooting scheduled for this spring and summer. Resumes are being accepted by e-mail at americangospel@gmail.com.

The HBO television series pilot Treme is in pre-production in New Orleans with shooting scheduled for March 9th through 31st. Resumes for crew and inquiries are being accepted by email only at blowndeadlineprod@gmail.com. For Treme's extras casting, please visit www.couloncasting.com or call (504) 569-0683.

The HBO television series True Blood starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer will shoot portions of the series in the Baton Rouge area in June. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at truebloodbr@gmail.com.

The Disney Channel television series The Imagination Movers is in pre-production in Harahan with shooting scheduled to start in late March. Resumes for crew are being accepted by e-mail at imaginationmovers1@earthlink.net.

The Films in Motion feature film Wrong Side of Town starring Rob Van Dam and Batiste is shooting in Baton Rouge shooting scheduled to begin in late March. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at info@filmsinmotion.com.

Soft prep for the Bullet Films feature films Jaws of the Mississippi, Medusa, and Wolf has begun in Lafayette. Resumes and inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at jobs@bulletfilms.net.

The Most Wanted Films feature film Video Girl starring Meagan Good is shooting in Baton Rouge through late March. Inquiries are being accepted by e-mail at info@mostwantedfilm s.com.

And for more information about the film and television industry in Louisiana please visit us online at www.louisianaentertainment.gov.