Escaping the pandemic, Americans have been spending more time at home in front of their television sets, but Southern viewers might be surprised to learn that many of the movies and television shows flickering in front of their eyes were not shot in Tinseltown but rather right in their own backyards.
For the past two decades, a growing number of film and TV productions have drifted from Southern California to the Deep South, lured by tax incentives and distinctive landscapes that range from Ozark mountains to swamps, forests, and the Gulf of Mexico. Because entertainment companies have increasingly come to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, the states have stepped up with infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities.
“I think that our unique character is one of our most valuable assets,” said Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana Entertainment, the state agency designed to attract and assist the state’s film and TV production. “We have had directors change the script and actually write the film for Louisiana. There is a creative spirit here that is hard to describe in words, but it resonates with producers and directors.”
The temperate climates of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi allow companies to film exteriors year-round. There’s also no shortage of rural areas and wilderness: Mud, for instance, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, was filmed in 2011 in southeast Arkansas and included scenes on a remote Mississippi River island near the town of Eudora.
Additionally, Southern cityscapes can fill in for many metropolises. Baton Rouge doubled for the California cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica in 2011’s Battle: Los Angeles, as well as for New York and Tokyo in other movies.
Here’s a sampling of the many films and shows produced in this trio of Southern states, along with some places where you can walk in the footsteps of your favorite stars.