NEW ORLEANS - "This is the new L.A.," said Andrew Clemons near the set of the movie Empire State in the Marigny. "This is the spot to be."
The on-set location manager recently decided to make New Orleans his home, moving from Dallas because business in the Crescent City is booming.
"There's so much work to pick up, movie after movie after movie, so I've been very fortunate actually," said Clemons.
Empire State is one of eight productions underway in the metro area right now, and one of 35 so far this year, said Katie Williams, director of Film New Orleans in the mayor's office.
"You throw a stone and you're probably going to hit a movie," said Clemons.
Williams said the film industry spent $531 million last year on filming and post-production. So far this year, the industry has spent nearly $250 million, not counting movies that are in production right now.
Officials believe indirect spending related to the movie industry elevates the economic impact.
"The one thing about the film industry is it touches so many areas of the economy that already exist," said Williams. "No matter what you do in New Orleans, there's most likely a way for them to connect to the industry."
A number of those who helped repopulate New Orleans after Katrina did so because of the film industry, though it's hard to quantify how many, said Williams.
For some, like George Steiner, assistant director of The Tomb, the thriving industry was a reason to return home. The New Orleans native and former head of the state film commission recently moved back after spending 13 years in California.
"It is like a dream because in my past we were here and there was not a whole lot to do, there was not a whole lot of work." said Steiner. "With the incentive programs in place, work has just exploded."
And so, the movie industry has become more than an integral part of the city's economy those who work in it have become an unique part of the city's cultural fabric in a post-Katrina landscape.
Some state tax incentives require a certain percentage of the crew to be Louisiana residents giving those in the movie industry an extra push to move here.
Meanwhile, the industry in New Orleans continues to grow.
"Eight productions in production in the middle of June is something that we've never really had before," said Williams.
Part of that, Williams said, is the industry is growing more confident about shooting during hurricane season.
"As we move further and further away from Hurricane Katrina, there's a confidence in the industry that they can film throughout the summer," said Williams.
Williams said another reason more movies are being shot in New Orleans is that new infrastructure, post-production studios, and businesses geared toward the movie industry have recently sprouted up.
"Two years ago, the city could only with crew and infrastructure hold about six productions at once. But now with other studios on line, warehouse space coming available, plus the NASA facility, you have so much more to offer," said Williams. "Now eight productions is the norm. Ten, probably, come the fall."