Robottom: Hollywood South thrives in St. John Parish

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The state of Louisiana, commonly known as “Hollywood South,” is the new home of a booming film industry resulting from one of the most generous tax credit packages in the country.

St. John the Baptist Parish is a beneficiary of increased film production in the area, noting a tremendous increase in activity since extension of the tax credits in July of last year.

Currently, there are at least five different productions utilizing the Community Center and other locations throughout the Parish to tell their stories. Our residents have had the privilege of “running into” some pretty big celebrities, including Kate Hudson, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel), Ryan Reynolds, Matthew McConaughey and, just recently, Kevin Costner, who is in town starring in the Bonnie & Clyde era film “The Highwaymen.”

This is the new normal in St. John, and residents are getting used to colliding with Hollywood as they go about their daily lives. The economic benefits of these projects are evident as many of these productions hire and train local residents for a variety of the jobs associated with the film industry.

From key location managers to a large selection of extras for diverse roles, to construction and catering, filmmakers are using our local workforce.

Not only do we have the privilege of interacting with celebrities, producers and location scouts, production teams are loyal to the cities that embrace their work.

When productions film in our community, crews not only utilize a variety of locally owned sites and historic landmarks that benefit property owners, they also utilize local restaurants for dining out and catering, hardware stores such as Home Depot and Ace Hardware for supplies, gas stations and they hire local deputies for traffic details and firefighters for pyrotechnics.

The tax credits offer as much as 40 percent of film spending with a $150 million annual production cap, and St. John remains one of the best places to film, with a state-of-the-art sound stage and a unique blend of culture, music and food.

St. John is proving to be a mecca for the film industry – featuring a variety of film options in one location. St. John has it all; from marshlands to lakes, to a multi-million dollar soundstage, to smaller, rural type homes and plantations.

In the past 20 years, St. John has hosted production of more than 50 motion pictures, television series and documentaries, including the popular Queen Sugar, Roots, True Detective, Django Unchained, Memphis Beat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Monster’s Ball, 2 Guns, Hot Tub Time Machine, Skeleton Key and more.

With great locations, knowledgeable and professional staff who assist almost daily with logistics and management, and exceptional accommodations, St. John has what it takes to make any project a success.

We are grateful that this, coupled with the support of the Governor and lawmakers, have provided stability to support the arts in our local communities.

Natalie Robottom is St. John the Baptist Parish President. She can be reached at