Monday, January 12, 2015

HOLLYWOOD SOUTH --- A brief history

My venture into movie magic actually goes back to 1954 when I was cast in an extremely ambitious LSU-originated historical drama entitled  ALWAYS ACADIA directed by my mentor, Oran "Doc" Teague.  Then between 1955 and 1956 I enjoyed a most fulfilling period of growth in front of the  WBRZ TV cameras when I was hired as a regular on a Kid show, then later -- the weekly HIT OR MISS program which grew in local popularity over the 1955-56 period.

 Links to the above cited posts:

Kid show,   

But then came rock and roll.  HIT or MISS along with the immensely popular national YOUR HIT PARADE quickly declined in popularity.  Names like Fats Domino, Little Richard, Elvis Presley had taken over the pop scene.  The HIT OR MISS cast was then dissolved, but not our spirits.  Some departed for either New York or Hollywood; others (myself included) chose not to leave Baton Rouge.

When my departing friends tried to persuade me to join them in this new quest, I simply said "I'm going to bring it all to Louisiana."  I had no idea how I was going to achieve such an ambitious objective, but I knew that I wanted the blood and guts of the film industry to expand into Louisiana.  I was intrigued with Hollywood's growing preoccupation with Louisiana and felt that this industry simply needed a little prodding. 

Chapter one in my pursuit came with a God-send. I was hired in 1957 by the Louisiana Division of Employment Security (today's Louisiana Workforce Commission).  In 1960 20th Century Fox's DESIRE IN THE DUST starring Raymond Burr, Joan Bennett and Martha Hyer was set to begin production in the Feliciana's. This production was my first "hands-on" experience with Motion Picture production.  Chapter 2 comprised three more great opportunities for me to further my cinematographic education: 20th Century Fox's  HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE , Columbia Pictures'  ALVAREZ KELLY and Paramount Pictures' NEVADA SMITH . Chapter 3 would begin with my infrastructure development -- my meeting with Director Otto Preminger in 1966, then with Clint Eastwood's Malposa production entitled  THE BEGUILED in 1970.  And chapter 4 would be none other than my true hero, John Wayne, who provided the icing on this cake while in production in south Louisiana on his epic Batjac production of THE UNDEFEATED   The "Duke" provided the political muscle I needed to acquire the GSRI (GULF SOUTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE)  funding that would allow me to embark on my Louisiana Film Development project.

With my project now underway, I marveled at how very receptive the movers and shakers of the industry were when confronted with my inquiries.  Never  once did I have to beg for cooperation.  

In 1976 the Louisiana Film Commission was formed.   I served on the commission from that date until 1984 when Gov Edwin Edwards won re-election to his 2nd term.  He wasted no time in sending me a letter thanking me for my service, but de-commissioning me.  He said he thought the commission needed “new” blood.  I asked his daughter, Victoria, why he “fired” me from the commission to which she said: “Because you didn’t step down during Treen’s administration.”  Humm!    I learned a lesson in political scheming

In spite of Edwards’ slight against  me in 1984 my contributions to the state’s phenomenal growth in the film industry would be recognized at the second annual Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFFin May 2014 when I would proudly accept the first ever ANNE PRICE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Following are a few industry press clip excerpts that will offer some insight into the project’s objectives:

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