By Bill Arceneaux
The Louisiana independent film scene is indeed growing, but it’s doing so by the sheer will and spirit of local filmmakers more than as a result of Hollywood’s outsourcing. It is the goal that these major productions will, eventually, lead to regional bases of operations for the major studios, which will trickle down and inspire, encourage, and educate a whole crop of potential filmmakers to start shooting.
Until that day comes, the bleeding hearts push on, as the love of cinema has swept through all corners of the state, bridging communities through film. Filmmaker and overall s**t-kicker Randy Mack is currently finishing his latest, Laundry Day, and has launched a crowdfunding page for support. While living in NOLA, Randy is a major advocate for filmmaking and film going culture all across our state, even going so far as to writing open letters to Baton Rouge politicians and movers/shakers. He is one of many who help in the community in the growing culture of Hollywood South, but he may be louder than most, echoing from the bars of the French Quarter to the halls of the State Capital.
In an exchange of emails, DIG asked him about the state of things—his movie, his outlook on the industry, and more.
DIG: How did Laundry Day come about?
Randy Mack: I wanted to make a film in New Orleans, and I felt the incident at Checkpoint [Charlie’s], which I’ve told orally for years, would make a good point of departure.
DIG: What makes the characters of New Orleans more unique for a movie than other cities?
RM: People in New Orleans are a lot more eclectic and real because there is less pressure to conform here than anywhere else in America.
DIG: What makes New Orleans a character itself?
RM: The story is something that can only happen here, because it is the result of decisions that only people here would make.
DIG: You previously made Burning Annie. What has changed about you as a filmmaker and the industry as a whole since that production?
RM: BA was my first film and my first set—my first everything but my first script. So I learned everything I know between then and now. The industry changed dramatically around 2007 with the global economic collapse.
DIG: How does the Louisiana independent film scene—from Shreveport to Baton Rouge to NOLA—compare to other states? Compare to each other?
I can only speak for New Orleans’s scene: it’s embryonic, under-nourished, and lacks key elements such as leadership, film industry education, and plentiful mentorships with working professionals.
DIG: Explain your “Wetlands Proposal.”
It asks non-local productions to have one above-the-line crew member to give one hour back to the city to teach their craft in an open, talk-back presentation.
The tax credits brought Hollywood in, but what will keep them around and invest?
Nothing. They have no commitment to Louisiana. Crews are inherently nomadic.
DIG: What is an “Above the Water Line” film organization and how would it help the community and culture?
RM: ATWL is an idea I have for a regularly occurring lecture and networking group for writers, directors, producers, and financiers to come together, compare ideas, and form the core teams that define a project.
DIG: Laundry Day is currently seeking completion funds on Kickstarter. Was it always planned to do a crowdfunding campaign?
RM: No, it’s a last-ditch effort. It’s a necessary act of contrition.
DIG: How easy or difficult was it to find the right cast and crew for your film?
RM: Casting was only hard because there’s not a robust system here yet, like there is in LA and NY with Breakdown Services going out every day and dozens of agencies and casting directors. I made a teaser a couple years ago and hired actors to produce it; they brought in a great selection of people and I found most of my leads during that.
Crewing was basically a mess and without a production dept. to hold it together it’s amazing that so many crew members stuck it out to the very end. By our last days we were a tight but small machine. We should have gotten matching tattoos to show we survived it.
DIG: Name a Louisiana independent film and filmmaker that’s impressed you recently and why.
RM: Jason Matherne’s horror-comedies are assembled in the same resourceful manner LD was, i.e. around available resources and self-taught know-how, and consistently deliver a unique mix of perfectly executed slapstick, gross-out sight gags, exploitation shock, and great local in-jokes.
DIG: Any tips for aspiring filmmakers?
RM: Read every production diary that’s out there, there are many dozens, from everyone from Kubrick to Soderbergh to Gilliam to Lee to Anderson. It will demystify the giants as well as teach you great nuts-and-bolts tricks of the trade.
Be sure to visit his blog essentialnolacinema.blogspot.com and the Laundry Day Kickstarter page.