As Hollywood South has grown, so has the New Orleans Film Society, which last year hosted a gala that included a speech by Matthew McConaughey – a flawed love letter to a flawed city – that spread like wildfire all over New Orleans. But beyond that moment, the NOFS and its flagship New Orleans Film Festival has consistently brought in big films and talent. On April 16, the NOFS hosts its annual patron party and gala again, this time at the grand Romanesque Revival Brown Mansion on St. Charles Avenue. After last year, it’s established that this is an event not to miss.
At last year’s gala, Matthew McConaughey made a speech that went viral. How do you plan to top that? We were thrilled with the amazing homage to our city that Matthew McConaughey delivered at last year’s gala. It will certainly be hard to top, but we’re working to make this year’s event just as special. That speech certainly took us by surprise, but it seems like it’s always the surprises that capture our attention and let an event linger in our memories.
Why did you choose the Brown Mansion for the location? We like the gala to feel both intimate and unique, so the location becomes really important in striking that balance. One of our strong supporters, Jason Waggenspack of The Ranch Studios, actually introduced us to John and Yulia Houghtaling, the wonderful owners of the mansion. It’s such a special home with absolutely stunning grounds – we thought it would be the perfect venue for this event.
How has the NOFS changed in the past year? What do you have planned? We are working together with the board and staff on a strategic plan that takes the organization into the next five to 10 years. Given that the New Orleans Film Festival has grown by leaps and bounds over the last five years, we have to take a serious look at our operations and devise a way to sustain and continue to grow the festival. We are looking to shine more of a spotlight on some of our events, particularly this year’s French Film Festival, which will be moving to earlier in the year. We also have redoubled our efforts to provide more resources for local filmmakers as we launched the Create Louisiana Filmmakers Grant last year with our partners Deep South Studios and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
With Louisiana film tax credits in peril, how do you think this will affect the film industry in New Orleans? This is indeed a challenging time, but our film tax incentives continue to be among the most competitive and generous. At NOFS and at NOFF we’ll continue to promote the incredible stories being told here by both our local filmmakers and the larger industry. Now more than ever, it’s critical that we all work together to demonstrate the larger economic impact of the film industry.
For more information on the NOFS and film gala, visit NewOrleansFilmSociety.org