Louisiana boasted more than 14,000 direct film industry jobs last year, and the numbers are growing. Those with ancillary jobs that support the industry ranging from caterers to medics, realtors, security staff, hoteliers and publicists are flourishing as well.
The film industry has been attracting entrepreneurs such as Andre Champagne, a Louisiana native who is founder of Hollywood Trucks, LLC. In the realm of transportation, the company has everyone beat for its cutting edge, eco-friendly designs. Based in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, it is now the nation’s fastest-growing entertainment transportation provider, featuring a fleet of 400 vehicles used for “98 percent of the movies and TV productions being filmed here,” Champagne said during an interview held in one of his snazzy new Ecoluxe talent trailers parked at Second Line Studios on Richard Street in New Orleans. It was designed for A-list stars, and has been used by Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart, Ben Affleck, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, plus the casts of Fantastic Four and American Horror Story to date.
The first of its kind in the world, “the Fifth Wheel Celebrity” Ecoluxe trailer is 100-percent fueled by clean power, which is why TRA recently bestowed its Gold Level Green Certification. Sleek and chic with panoramic windows and large mirrors flanking a white wrap-around sofa in the living area, the luxurious 43-foot-long talent trailer is filled all the toys including iPods, iMacs and large flat-screen Samsung Smart TVs that can be controlled from a star’s cell phone. “We can pack it up and move it out in three minutes,” Champagne said while pointing out the cleverly designed pop-out areas. “We have four models. It’s sound-proof and runs on a combination of solar and thermal power.”
At press time, Champagne was in London arranging his company’s expansion there, on the heels of his expansion deal with Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Georgia. “I’m also considering Ireland,” he notes. “My company employs many people in Louisiana, and it also gives business to those companies that service the fleet.” Champagne started Scene magazine in 2009, and is also the founder of Passcode Entertainment, a media ventures production and finance company. “I like mentoring young people with ideas,” he says. “There is so much talent to discover here. And the demand in Louisiana for our vehicles is greater than anywhere else.”