More than a century of trends and technical innovations separate movies currently under production in Louisiana since Faust, the pioneering film rendition of the classic German legend shot in the state in 1908. But all of it adds to the gumbo of the new Louisiana Film Museum, which plans to open its first exhibit in New Orleans this month.
“There’s a lot of history here; we’ve produced over 400 films since the first one in 1908,” says Jeffrey Pipes Guice, executive director of the museum. “As a state, we’ve contributed a lot to the film industry and we’re going to put it all together in one central location where people can come and learn more about that history.”
The Louisiana Film Museum is a privately funded effort from Guice and his board of directors. It opens in a small, 400-square-foot space inside the Riverwalk Marketplace near two other museums that have opened in the riverfront shopping mall in the past year – the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and the Museum of the American Cocktail. Guice says the museum plans to expand later this year with a second hall of about 1,000 square feet for additional exhibits.
The museum’s first exhibits will be drawn largely from Guice’s own portfolio of movie posters, promotional stills and other objects he’s collected since the early 1980s, when he was publisher of the New Orleans newspaper The Uptown Alligator. The museum’s board hopes to build more exhibits through donations of sets, costumes and props from both long-past and recently wrapped Louisiana productions.
“I hope the Louisiana Film Museum will be a collective effort of filmmakers, of costume designers and screenwriters and our musicians who have contributed to soundtracks, and also of consumers who go out to see these movies,” says Guice.
Louisiana has been making big strides in the film industry lately, and was recently ranked No. 3 in the nation for production volume, behind California and New York. A key to all the film activity is a tax credit incentive program created by Louisiana in 2002 specifically to lure the industry to the state. Producers typically work with brokers to turn these credits into major budget savings for their projects. It is now common for a dozen or more film productions to be underway across Louisiana at any one time.
“That means the museum’s portfolio will continue to grow,” Guice says. “To us, it’s history and art and we want to share it with everyone.”
For updates on the museum, see www.louisianafilmmuseum.org.
— Ian McNulty