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The second annual Lake Charles Film Festival ended on Saturday.  (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

The second annual Lake Charles Film Festival ended on Saturday. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Area takes center stage during Lake Charles Film Festival

Last Modified: Saturday, October 05, 2013 7:41 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The Lake Area took center stage this weekend during the Lake Charles Film Festival, which featured the screening of 44 films and about a dozen workshops and seminars on various aspects of the filmmaking industry.

“The film scene in Louisiana has just exploded in the last few years,” said festival founder Patrick Bennett.

That’s due in part to the state implementing a tax credit program that makes filming in the state less expensive, he said.

“Cities like New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and even Lafayette have a thriving film industry,” Bennett said. “There have been a few films made in Lake Charles over the years, but recently production in New Orleans is on the rise and that’s due to several factors, one being that our mayor is a huge supporter of the arts and works diligently to help attract film production to the area.

“Another factor is that we have a strong area film alliance that works with potential films wanting to shoot in the area and helps them with everything from location scouting to connecting them with area professionals. I think another factor is the local Lake Area Film Group that has assisted with films being shot here in the past. They have monthly meetings and the members help each other out with their film projects.”

The growth is expected to continue.

“The Lake Charles film industry will continue to grow thanks to some recent events like filmmaker Michael McGowan setting up a production office right here in Lake Charles with the intention of making three to four feature films a year,” Bennett said.

“He has also partnered with Sowela to begin a film school so that Lake Charles can grow a local trained crew base that filmmakers can use when making a film here (one thing that we have been lacking thus far in our film industry growth.) I predict that within the next five years we will see a rocketing growth in the Lake Charles film industry and business will be booming.”

Bennett is planning on filming the short film “Escape From Planet X” in Lake Charles in February.

“There are many films each year, shorts and features, that shoot here and go under the radar,” he said. “The Lake Area Film Group, which I am the president of, has many members making their own shorts and features constantly.”

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