Postproduction facilities populate the Big Easy
The entry hallway at Maison Post
Real estate is sizzling in the bayou
Productions continue to give green light to Louisiana
Kyle Curry spent nine years in Los Angeles working as an editor on shows like ABC's "The Wonder Years," toiling away for hours in dark, windowless rooms. So when it came time to launch his own postproduction facility, Maison Post, in his native New Orleans, he chose a decidedly different environment: a 150-year-old mansion at 1240 Esplanade Ave. in the city's historic Treme neighborhood. Not only is it equipped with a full complement of high-tech tools (Avid, Final Cut Pro HD, Pro Tools HD, 2k Smoke, etc.), but it also has rooms where editors can live in comfort while cutting, just blocks away from the temptations of the French Quarter.
"Postproduction is such an important part of making a film and we spend so many hours doing it, why shouldn't it be in a great place?" says Curry, who launched the facility with fellow editor T.G. Herrington in 2007.
The idea isn't unique to Maison Post. Less than two miles to the southwest in the city's Warehouse District is Storyville Post (717 Camp St.), another mid-19th century mansion that has been converted to a high-tech postproduction facility with living space for clients.
Both properties required serious renovation before they could open for business. The challenges at Maison Post included extensive termite damage to the rafters, which led to the ceilings being removed, while taking care not to damage ornate 12-inch moldings.
"They basically had to gut the place to the studs and then some," says George "Hutch" Hutchinson, Maison Post's business manager. "The goal was to kind of create a renovation that was historically correct, but bring in modern fixtures and furniture and juxtapose old and new."
Storyville owner Sergio Lopez was able to locate original plans for 717 Camp St. filed with City Hall.
"Using those, we went back to square one and literally ripped out everything that wasn't originally there, then put in new plumbing and new electrical from top to bottom," he says. "So it was restored almost to its original state as a home, with integrated connectivity to meet our technical demands."
Both projects received a 20% federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings, significantly reducing renovation costs. Maison Post was also able to take advantage of Louisiana's 40% tax credit for investment in film and TV production infrastructure, in effect from 2005 through the end of 2007. Since the Storyville project was launched in 1998, the 40% tax credit couldn't be applied to its initial rehab costs; but Lopez was able to use it to help finance a previously planned renovation of the building's fourth floor in 2007.