Hollywood South wraps 2012, looks forward to 2013


Elizabeth Vowell

The stages at Celtic Media in Baton Rouge seem quiet as 2012 wraps up. However, it's merely a resting period after what has been a busy year in Hollywood South.

"It was just amazing to see multiple projects going on in Baton Rouge at one time," said Director of Studio Operations Patrick Mulhearn. "To have Oblivion prepping while Breakout Kings was wrapping up, while Host was shooting, while Beautiful Creatures- which is what a lot of folks are saying is going to be the next Twilight - is shooting."

The film industry in Baton Rouge broke into 2012 with the city's first scripted television series, The Breakout Kings.  Meanwhile, Stephanie Meyer, the author behind the Twilight phenomenon, has been good to South Louisiana, with her second book series turned movie filmed here.

"The Host, a big Stephanie Meyer feature, came back and did a sci-fi feature. They shot around town and here at the studio," said Mulhearn.

"This past year, it was our biggest year yet since we started in 2008. We shot five films this year," said Active Entertainment COO Daniel Lewis.

Active Entertainment, the folks behind a new sci-fi thriller Ghost Shark, which is due out in 2013, say 2012 was a big turning point for film in Baton Rouge and Louisiana.

"Because Louisiana has now continued to support this program and stand by the program, it's giving producers more comfort that we can develop these projects for two or three years for Louisiana because we know it's going to be there," said Lewis.

However, perhaps the biggest news for Hollywood South in 2012 wasn't the presence of A-list stars and their movies, but the addition of a new visual effects company Pixomondo.

"This has been one of Pixomondo's best years. We started off by winning the Academy award for Hugo, and we won the Emmy for best visual effects in Game of Thrones," said Visual Effects Supervisor for Pixomondo Baton Rouge David Burton. "We worked completely on Beautiful Creatures here in Baton Rouge and also the Hunger Games."

Pixomondo has a dozen locations around the world, in addition to its Baton Rouge studio that opened in April.

"Top notch visual effects was the missing part of the puzzle for Louisiana in general. You had some companies that are here that would ramp up or ramp down based on projects. But, this is a company that will be here year-round and it will help attract big projects that might have gone elsewhere," said Mulhearn.

"It is much better than working in Los Angles, even from a traffic standpoint, a weather standpoint, a cost of living standpoint and a friendly people standpoint," said Burton.

For those in the business, 2012 can be simply summed up.

"Growing, it's definitely growing," said Mulhearn. "We've taken this thing from a $10 million a year industry to over a billion dollars consistently. And it's no question; we'll hit those numbers for 2013."

"Fast. We have grown fast we just finished a major project and we're about to start a major project," said Burton.

"People now start to take you seriously and that's where we are in the film industry," said Lewis. "In 2012, that's a good word: maturity."