$12.5 million Starlight movie studio opens in New Orleans East

The new Starlight Studios, a $12.5 million motion picture studio, opened near NASA’s Michoud facility in New Orleans East on June 19 (Monday). With a cavernous 45-foot tall, 32,000-square foot sound stage, plus a second 13,000- square-foot sound stage next door, the facility is the biggest in New Orleans, said Starlight Studios President Billy Burk. 

As he surveyed the interior of the four-story black box interior of sound stage 1, Burk said that unlike competing New Orleans studios, Starlight is not a converted warehouse or other pre-used structure. It was built from the ground up to accommodate movie and television production, with no supporting columns or other obstructions inside the gigantic spaces. Burk proudly pointed out that the spare hanger-like Starlight buildings also have sound insulation, air conditioning, and electrical supply tailor-made for cinema or television. 

Burk, a real estate developer, said that the studio complex will provide 200 jobs in the New Orleans area. Considering the income creation, the New Orleans Industrial Development Board, a city agency, rewarded Burk and the other private investors in the Starlight project with a property tax benefit in 2013. 

The studio, which Burk said was first conceived in 2012, has dodged two potential disasters. In 2015 a tightening of the tax incentive program that attracts movie makers to Louisiana, sent producers looking for greener pastures elsewhere. 

“The legislation in 2015 provided some uncertainty in the industry that certainly affected us,” Burke said. 

But just this month, the state stabilized the tax incentive program, which may lead to a revival of so-called Hollywood south. 

“We are very pleased to have the stability, and the assurance, and the certainty that we need as an industry to move forward in the state of Louisiana,” Burk said. 

A more violent threat to the studios came on Feb. 7 when a tornado touched down within sight of Starlight Studios, but luckily…

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