Here’s My $2

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In the fall of 2014, I chaired a Kickstarter campaign called “Here’s My Two Bucks” with the Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association. The goal was unusual: we wanted to raise $50,000 to fund an economic impact study of how the film industry impacts Louisiana’s economy. After sixty days, we not only met that lofty goal, but exceeded it. 589 backers donated a total of $55,818 to fund the study. The study was completed a few weeks ago and you can now read it in its entirety at sceneent.com.

Because of our combined efforts, the results of the study are now available for Louisiana lawmakers to review, just in time for the 2015 session of the Louisiana legislature. It’s a fiscal session, which means that legislators will be looking closely at all financial matters affecting the Louisiana state government’s budget. The Legislature is in session now and will conclude in mid-June.

The key to our successful Kickstarter was widespread support, both inside and outside of the film industry. And one of the backers was especially important. With a little more than a week until the end of our campaign, Sandy Parker pledged $10,000 and selected the biggest reward: a short film.

“I scrolled down and saw that for $10,000, you’d get your short film produced basically from start to finish, all the way through editorial and help submitting to film festivals. That actually seems crazy low!” Sandy told me. That’s an observation only a filmmaker would make. And Sandy is indeed someone who has not only worked in the film industry as a script supervisor, but who has a great story of how Louisiana’s film incentive program helped influence her to relocate to Louisiana.

Only a few years ago, Sandy was in Portland, Oregon, where she first made her way into the film industry doing craft services. She eventually made her way over to the script supervisor’s chair, right next to the actors and the director. After going back and forth between Portland and Los Angeles, Sandy found herself at a crossroads. “When The Levees Broke, that Spike Lee movie was on HBO,” she remembers. Lee’s documentary is a four-hour opus chronicling the impact of Hurricane Katrina on South Louisiana. “About an hour in, it was like I had a revelation. Why was I trying to move to Los Angeles when I could move to New Orleans? I would be two hours away from my parents in Mississippi and I could actually work in the film industry!”

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“I sold my house in Portland and moved here,” Sandy says. “I came here in October of 2006, I joined the union and they were happy to have me.” After relocating to New Orleans, she worked on films including Killer Joe, Meeting Evil, Now You See Me, Jurassic World and American Horror Story.

Nearly ten years of employment in Louisiana’s film industry has allowed Sandy to lay down roots. In addition to purchasing her own home, she’s also a great example of how people that come to Louisiana to work on film end up branching out into other areas of the economy. “I’ve bought two rental properties,” she says.

Sandy directed her short film Creatures of God from her own original script. During the process, she was aided by a team of professional filmmakers who brought their well-honed skills to the table. Trey Burvant was the project’s lead producer. He got development rolling by connecting Sandy with veteran screenwriter Chris Poché. Together, the two made some key changes that streamlined the story. Meanwhile, producer and production supervisor Will Greenfield prepared a budget for the film. Casting took place shortly after, drawing from Louisiana’s maturing talent pool.

After shooting over the course of two days in April, we’re now in post-production on Creatures of God. You can follow that process in more detail at heresmytwobucks.com. We also need your help during the next two months. Go to lfea.org for more information on how to contact your legislators and support film.

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LFEA Announces ‘Here’s My Two Bucks’ Campaign

by Arthur Vandelay on September 18, 2014

IMG_8127-webThe Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association has announced a new campaign, dubbed “Here’s My Two Bucks.” The film industry organization made the announcement via email to members of the film industry. “We know that the film industry has a positive impact on Louisiana’s economy. A billion dollar impact every year. Now, we need to prove it,” the email said.

The first phase of the campaign involves fundraising through Kickstarter. The popular crowdfunding site will be used to fund and raise awareness for a “landmark study” that the email says LFEA “anticipates will show how much the film & entertainment industry benefits Louisiana.” The Kickstarter will go live on September 29.

With the fiscal session of the Louisiana legislature still more than eight months away, the timing of the campaign indicates the increased organization and growing influence of the film industry in Louisiana. The industry, which was almost nonexistent ten years ago, now has circa one billion dollars of direct economic impact on the Bayou State each year. That direct impact from the film productions themselves to the local economy is well documented by State-mandated audits. It looks like the new landmark study referenced in LFEA’s email aims to examine the ancillary benefits to Louisiana’s economy, the indirect impact that is not currently accounted for by the State, but that would not exist without the entertainment industry.

Rather than simply asking for donations for a cause or project, Kickstarters offer prizes in exchange for donations, creating a direct value proposition for supporters. Not only will backers be supporting a cause, but they will receive some benefit in return. Common Kickstarter prizes include both physical items like shirts and experience-based prizes, where the backer is offered access to an experience that may otherwise be out of their reach. The “Here’s My $2” prizes have yet to be announced, but the email also mentions prizes will be announced on the campaign’s Facebook page at facebook.com/heresmytwobucks. The campaign’s domain, heresmytwobucks.com, redirects to the Facebook page now.

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“This campaign seeks to highlight not only the benefits to our growing industry, but many of the other businesses and residents it positively affects worldwide,” the email says. The email features a photo of a family with the city of New Orleans in the background, along with a photo of background actress Susie Labry, a long time vocal supporter of Louisiana film who has been active in the industry for a decade.

The rallying call #keepusrollin is also present in the email. The familiar social hashtag was widely adopted across Louisiana during the entertainment industry’s last legislative push.

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