Starting with a quarter million dollars just in leases to businesses, Amite Police Department and the Auction Barn and others.
--The Amite Chamber alone received $28,000 for leasing its former bank offices to the 2 Guns producers.
--Weldon Russell, Realtor, received around $70,000 for a 10-week lease.
--When Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona heard this, he lifted the discussion for his station much more than the $3,000 or so offered.
His officers earned $50/hour personally to staff security around the movie set, which moved around Downtown Amite. That was around $14,000 before the final shooting day.
--The Boston catered for cast and crew, maybe around 175 persons a day. The new restaurant filled an order for a thousand pieces of sushi. Order placed after lunch. Oh yes, we want that at 5.
--St. Helena Catholic Church served other cast and crew members.
--La Caretta reported star sights.
--Central Avenue Sports Bar served some of the crew.
--Thrift Town Health Mart provided most kinds of health needs, starting with sunscreen and aspirin.
Only a few of these numbers surfaced Tuesday, Sept. 18 when Amite Chamber president Jeremy Adamson talked with the Amite Rotary. He spoke at Mike’s Catfish Inn, which also reported some extra business from 2 Guns during its 32nd anniversary celebration in July.
“The $250,000 doesn’t count what the contracts spent here in the month and a half leading up to shooting,” said Adamson. “We tried to get them to do local. Riggins Flooring, for example, would lay the carpet.”
“That quarter million went into some people’s pockets,” he said.
“Moviemaking does affect some businesses more than others,” he said. “Some businesses rely on traffic. They felt it affected them negatively.”
2 Guns certainly brought traffic to Amite. Hundreds of movie fans clustered daily around the three corners:
--Amite Police Department
--The Boston at Oak and Central
They came from McComb, Robert, Hammond, Baton Rouge.
Many businesses reported new business.
Adamson acknowledged business owners who complained. Amite is likely to continue attracting moviemakers, commercials and maybe documentaries.
He suggested consulting with Hammond to see their business guidelines as well as with the Tangipahoa Convention and Visitors Bureau, where director of sales Emily McKneely is the go-to person for making anything video in Tangipahoa. “Hammond had like six movies back-to-back,” said Adamson.
How will the Chamber use its $28,000 windfall from 2 Guns?
Furniture, office improvements, some repairs. Maybe fix a nagging roof leak from Isaac. The old First Guaranty Bank building is owned by the city of Amite. The Chamber leases only the first floor. That lease isn’t clear whose insurance might cover the roof leak--or whose obligation.
Adamson told Rotary that he’s looking ahead to try to preserve the building. “The third floor is classic, old wood, good view. The Dick Tracy look, with etchings on the windows. I would love to see that maintained.”
The building and Dick Tracy detective comic both go back to the 1930s.
The movie crew left behind classy bank counters, looking like granite but not, and a couple of columns and ceiling beams. The Chamber, like other businesses affected by the movie, are being restored to pre-movie conditions.
Why does Amite attract moviemakers?
“The old police station. They love the old time buildings. The 1940s look.” Laughter erupts from maybe two dozen Rotary members. Adamson responds: “We can take that positively or negatively. For movies, you can’t beat the charm of small towns in the South.”
Emily McKneely says moviemakers love the brickwork, wide streets, spreading oaks. Rural scenes. Rivers, lakes and bayous. Tangipahoa has everything but mountains, she notes.
What about tax breaks, asks a Rotary member?
“Other states are trying to compete with Louisiana’s tax breaks,” said Adamson. “So if we don’t do it now, we’ll miss the opportunities.” Some tax breaks allow up to 80 percent defraying of certain costs, he said.
Mississippi is the closest competitor, and McComb has some of the same characteristics of Amite. “Even California, which doesn’t have money, is trying to get competitive on tax breaks,” said Adamson.
McKneely says that Tangipahoa has a more strategic location for the Hollywood crowd, than say McComb. Directors can jet in. Stars like Denzel Washington helicopter in to the Hood Memorial landing pad. Hollywood Trucks LLC drivers know that Hammond is one of a half-dozen coast-to-coast interstate highways cross.
All of this is tiring. “I don’t want to see another movie around the Chamber for another six months,” Adamson said.