Making Movies in New Orleans

I rode my bike to the Uptown Zotz cafe today as I continue my project to photo document all the coffee shops in New Orleans. As I rode by Tulane’s main entrance on St. Charles, I saw these many trucks, lined up, blocking the extra space that I usually use when riding up this busy street. They’re shooting a movie on campus–actually, several–and these trucks have been parked here for over a week. Many films are shooting in NOLA right now: Mardi Gras, Patriot, Shooter and others. These are the ones I know from seeing their signs all around, directing crew and cast to locations. The local news plays up the booming movie industry in town, claiming huge economic gains resulting from the influx of people and business. This is quite probably true. The movie makers benefit, however, from significant tax breaks, making shooting here a bargain for them as well. It is interesting, these choices, to give tax breaks to these folks while raising property taxes and other residential taxes for those who actually just plain live here. I think that’s part of the point, though: those in town temporarily won’t need or expect to use city resources like schools and public health facilities; they won’t be here long enough to make a fuss about roads or water and sewage or shocking Entergy bills; they leave their money and take the costs of their reproduction elsewhere. From the city’s perspective, this is perfect. Folks roll in to town, spend some cash, and then roll out without placing any demands on the collective, on the social wage. It is little wonder that the city prioritizes tourism and this sort of temporary industry over building an infrastructure to support permanent settlement.

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