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Local filmmaker partnering with Sowela to offer classes

Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 8:20 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Local filmmaker Michael McGowan is expanding his operations in the area, partnering with Sowela Technical Community College to offer filmmaking classes and opening a branch for his LA 2 La production company.

McGowan, a Lake Charles native who splits his time between here and Los Angeles, filmed the upcoming release “How to Love a Geek” in the area last year.

“We hope to have that released in November,” he said.

“ ‘Reservation’ is the first movie we did, in Los Angeles. That is coming out in October. We are going to have a screening of the movie and do a haunted house experience of the movie — take elements from the movie and turn it into a haunted house. In January, we will start a different project. We have a couple of scripts we are looking at. One is called ‘Roses of St. Valentine.’ Another one is called ‘Traffic School.’ We are going to film all of our films in Louisiana. We are going to do preproduction in Los Angeles, then production here in Louisiana to take advantage of the tax credit program.”

The tax credit program has helped spark film production in the state over recent years, primarily in New Orleans. McGowan hopes classes at Sowela will help make it easier to have more movies made in Southwest Louisiana.

“There are a lot of trained production workers in New Orleans,” he said.

“They are not many here in Lake Charles. It is expensive for me to fly crew people in from Los Angeles or do a lot of scouting for people from New Orleans. It would be easier to have the infrastructure here in Lake Charles, where we could have trained camera people, light people, cinematographers, production rigging people. Having a lot of people here would cut down on a lot of expenses.”

The work development courses at Sowela will start next month. No previous experience is required for people interested in working in the film industry.

“We are getting calls every day from people wanting to be involved, everything from wanting to be grips to construction workers,” McGowan said. “We are looking to take in up to 100 people. We will have people coming from Los Angeles to teach, as well as New Orleans, and I will be teaching as well. I will be the director of the program and teaching screenwriting. When I grew up here, we did not have a lot of courses on filmmaking people could get involved in. Film schools are really expensive. I want to make a viable way people can get involved in filmmaking.”

McGown said he enjoys being creative.

“I enjoy being able to come up with a script and turn it into a movie, see people act it out,” he said. “On the technical side, I like framing the picture, lighting it, blocking the actors just right, being able to watch it and say, ‘That was creatively done.’ ”

McGowan said working at home is a rewarding experience.

“I like being able to involve my friends, family and community, and being able to turn my dream into a shared dream,” he said.

“It was very positive; everyone had a lot of fun. We tried to make the experience as close to Hollywood as possible. A lot of people have gone on to do different things. We are taking what we learned there and bringing it here.”

McGowan’s company, LA 2 La, recently opened an office in Lake Charles.

“This is going to be our central hub,” he said.

“We are going to take headshots and resumes here. We are looking for locations like houses or backyards, props like old vehicles. We are also going to be doing commercial work and are looking for extras and commercial actors.”

McGowan does music for his films and will be making a return trip to California next month for an awards ceremony.

“We got nominated for a Los Angeles Music award for music we have done for the soundtrack for ‘Reservation,’ ” he said.

“We were nominated for Urban Music Artist of the Year. We do the scores for all of our movies. Ed Fruge worked with us on songs for ‘How to Love a Geek.’ We use a lot of local artists. Last year during Contraband Days we had a competition called The Sound, and the six local artists did the soundtrack for ‘How to Love a Geek.’ The talent base here is good; there is talent all over the map.”

For more information, visit the LA 2 La Office, 804 15th St., Suite E, or call 564-6981.

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