By Jenny West
Over the last few years, movie productions have left Hollywood for our familiar streets of Louisiana. Having movies such as Battle Los Angeles, Pitch Perfect, and Premonition filmed here in Baton Rouge, along with countless others in New Orleans and Shreveport have helped to spark a growing industry here in Louisiana.
This weekend the New Orleans Video Access Center, NOVAC, partnered with Baton Rouge Film Commission, BRFC, and Mayor Melvin L. Holden’s Office for Community Development are offering local residents free training for careers in the growing film industry. The Mayor’s Office of Community Development has issued a grant to allow residents of East Baton Rouge Parish the opportunity to sign up for training at no cost.
“This industry gives life to our creative community and causes an influx of young people. Those wanting to get into the film industry shouldn’t move to California or New York, they should be right here in Louisiana.” explains Liza Kelso, executive director of the BRFC. According to Kelso the growing industry creates a consistent revenue stream for local businesses.
“The thing about the film industry is that when you’re in, you’re all in,” she said. “These aren’t one time temporary jobs you’re being trained for. Once you build the sets for one movie, you’re being asked to build them for another, and your work is constant.”
Training is offered for various behind the scenes aspects of movie making, including anything from set building to assistant directing. According to NOVAC executive director, Darcy McKinnon, “Anyone with a transferable trade skill can put that skill to use in the film industry. Those with construction experience can build sets and electricians have various opportunities to work on lighting.”
All spots are filled for this weekend’s training course; however there are plans to announce more training opportunities in April for weekends in May and this summer. Potential applicants will be able to apply for training a month before the class. Of the application process McKinnon states, “We had very limited seating. About 75 people applied for 30 seats, and the diversity of candidates was immense. But we are looking for people with a with-it-ness because this is a tough industry, but people are excited to be a part of it.”
Both McKinnon and Kelso expressed that this training is not for a life of champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Both explained that those interested in training and getting jobs in the industry should know the industry as a whole is not as glamorous as movies make it out to be. “Making a movie operates the same way a factory operates, and that’s not glamorous, but this is for those who have a want. My favorite part of this job is finding people employment in the industry.” says Kelso of the training and possible employment of the trainees.