On Location in Hollywood South: An Aspirational State in Uncertain Times


Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowships




New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC)


Using transferable tax credits to lure film production, Louisiana achieved its goal of becoming “Hollywood South” early this century. Researchers have vigorously studied such programs, which are integral to today’s global film industry, but the resulting films, which often disguise production locales, have received little systematic attention. Louisiana’s incentives, however, expanded production in landscapes that, though previously depicted as exotic, have become icons for broad contemporary concerns. This project examines how works shot and set in Louisiana—independent and major studios, local and transnational productions, fiction and documentary film—have developed new aesthetic forms for exploring racial injustice, changing social and political values, and ecological peril. Research is being conducted in collaboration with the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC), which provides training for Louisianans who wish to join the industry, assists Hollywood productions in recruiting more diverse production crews, and collaborates with local organizations who seek to mobilize documentary film in their quests for social justice and environmental reform. This collaboration provides a new model for studying how cinematic representations of location shift in a rapidly transforming production context, where diverse stakeholders understand the stakes of these aesthetic choices in profoundly different ways.