By Jane Bokun, The Shreveport Times
Sometimes the burgeoning movie industry in Shreveport can mean dollars — dining dollars to be exact.
"The movie sets order from us," said Don O'Bryne, owner of Don Juanz Baja Beach Tacos in Bossier City. "Catering to the movie people has increased our profits and it's definitely been helpful to our economy."
Now that Nu/Image Millennium Studios is officially open in Shreveport, dining here should be a continuous star-studded event, said Pam Glorioso, project coordinator for Bossier City. Even before construction began on the new 53,000-square-foot Nu/Image Millennium Studios project in December 2009, movies were filming in Shreveport, putting the city among the top film venues in the country.
"The movie industry is spending direct dollars for the films they're making and they have to live, eat, dine and shop somewhere while they are here," Glorioso said. "They also like the fact that while they're dining here they're not inundated with paparazzi."
During the past years, movies such as "Mad Money" (Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah), "The Guardian" (Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner), "Factory Girl" (Sienna Miller and Guy Pierce) and more have added dollars to the local economy.
Erica Papillion, director of communications for the Louisiana Restaurant Association, said in Baton Rouge when crews were filming "Breaking Dawn," another film in the "Twilight" series, each time the actors ate anywhere that place was mobbed.
"We don't have official records, but it's safe to say that anytime movie or television crews are shooting, it's a boon for the Louisiana restaurant economy," Papillion said. "In New Orleans, local crews will order hundreds of po-boys for their sets."
Movie stars have been caught in national magazines such as US Weekly and People Magazine dining in Shreveport restaurants such as Wine Country, Cush's Grocery and Market, Columbia Café, Tokyo, Superior Grill and Superior Steakhouse.
During the making of Nu/Image Millennium's "Playing the Field," now filming in Shreveport, cupcakes are ordered from Cush's Grocery and Market as a Friday surprise for cast members.
"I like when they eat here, but mainly it's because the customers enjoy it," said Chris Cush, owner of Cush's Grocery and Market in Shreveport. "They're hoping to see Gerard Butler or Jessica Biel eating here.
"The stars think it's a lot like Joan's on Third restaurant in Los Angeles," Cush said. "They like the atmosphere and the food is really good."
Tony Wang, owner of Shreveport's Tokyo Japanese Restaurant and Bar, had a brush with the stars when actors Jessica Biel and Gerard Butler from "Playing the Field" and an entourage ate meals such as the chicken and fried rice at his restaurant.
It was a double-edged sword Wang said because he doesn't want to bother the movie stars, but it's been good for business.
"People have been eating here more hoping to see them again," Wang said.
By Jennifer Larino, New Orleans City Business Online
On any given day, Jonathan and Michelle Ray can be found sitting in a white van with a group of strangers watching actor Jean-Claude Van Damme fend off a gang of street thugs on Frenchmen Street.
The passengers, ranging from Midwestern retirees to Finnish vacationers, nosh on popcorn and absorb the action. Soon the scene from the 1993 film “Hard Target,” set in New Orleans, cuts out from the small television screens attached to the seat backs in the Ray’s customized tour van. A few “oohs” and “aahs” escape as they look out the windows to see the same mismatched music club façades.
The Rays, owners of Original New Orleans Movie Tours and its only tour guides, relish these moments. “I like when they’re oohing and aahing because I know they’re enjoying it,” Jonathan Ray said. “You hear them behind me and they’re getting into it.”
In its first month of business, Original New Orleans Movie Tours has ushered dozens of tourists through local neighborhoods to the sites where iconic — and perhaps less so — moments in New Orleans film history were shot. Tourists pay $54 per person for the three-hour tour.
The business is one of the first in the city to cater to tourists interested in experiencing not just movie history but the movie itself. As live filming becomes more routine in New Orleans, the Rays expect to have some company.
City and tourism officials alike have called attention to the impact Hollywood film crews have in improving the city’s economy and its image. Since lawmakers established a state film tax credit in 2002, 139 films have been shot in New Orleans, according to the New Orleans Office of Film and Video.
Louisiana Economic Development estimates the movie industry has generated $1.48 billion in economic activity statewide.
Continue Reading at lafilm.org