2. New Orleans, Louisiana
80 miles to the South of Baton Rouge is New Orleans, which features the same seductive tax incentives, but a totally different spirit—one that’s a little flashier, a little more soulful, with its bourbon, street jazz, and Mardi Gras.
Those incentives bring a steady flow of diverse productions to the Crescent City. Here’s a taste: Some of the features that shot in New Orleans during 2014 were Screen Gem’s When the Bough Breaks, directed by 24’s Jon Cassar; the Jean-Claude Van Damme reboot Kickboxer; comedy Joe Dirt 2, produced by Adam Sandler and starring a mulleted David Spade; post-apocalyptic thriller Man Down with Shia LeBeouf, Kate Mara and Gary Oldman; and the Paramount-Bad Robot production Valencia directed by Dan Trachtenberg. TV-wise, the variety is equally rich: ABC’s Astronaut Wives Club, NCIS: New Orleans, American Horror Story: Freak Show, and Syfy’s upcoming The Magicians, based on the hit Lev Grossman book of the same name.
Of course, if you’re talking home-grown moviemakers, NOLA’s talent pool is rich—and well-supported by the 25-year-old New Orleans Film Society (which runs the wonderful New Orleans Film Festival every October). And don’t forget local boys Jay and Mark Duplass—who rival the beignet, perhaps, as New Orleans’ most famous export.
Cajun food. The French Quarter. Streetcars. Spooky, humid bayous. Throw in historic independent theaters like the Prytania and the Civic, and New Orleans is an immersive experience that makes every day feel like Fat Tuesday.