Hollywood South

Adapted from Tulane University COMM 4810

In 2011, Hollywood surpassed $1 billion in allocated budgets for film productions in Louisiana. Movie stars have relocated to the region. Tourists and residents alike flock to the sets and take tours of film locations. All of this is happening in one of the poorest states in the U.S. Beyond the glitz and the glam, what is Hollywood South? How does it impact the political economy of the region and the culture of its iconic places?

This course investigates debates that have swirled around the roles of governments in stimulating creative economies and the roles of creative industries in governance as well as achieving economic goals. We begin with a historical look at the industry, the role Louisiana played during the beginnings of commercial filmmaking, 1890-1920. From there, we focus on runaway production, the process by which major studios invest in production locales outside of Hollywood, and those locales engage in a "race to the bottom" to give public incentives for production. We will look at the economics of tax incentives from a macro-perspective and their local impacts on public coffers and labor. Finally, we will evaluate the more subjective aspects of Hollywood South, its impacts on residents' feelings about local space, place, and culture. We will take the series Treme as a case study for exploring the ambivalences that residents have about Hollywood South as a whole. Along the way, we will be meeting key players in the local film industry and its history.

Course PDF

Vicki Mayer

Professor - Communication


  • B.A., Brown University, Independent Major, 1993
  • M.A., University of California-San Diego, Communication, 1997
  • Ph.D., University of California-San Diego, Communication, 2000

Academic Experience

  • Professor, 2012-present
  • Associate Professor, 2007-2012
  • Assistant Professor, Tulane University, 2003-2007
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, University of California-Davis, 2001-2003
  • Assistant Professor, University of Texas-San Antonio, 2000-2001
  • Associate Instructor, University of California-San Diego, 2000

Course Chapters

  • About This Chapter

    In 1896, William “Pop” Rock opened Vitascope Hall, the first movie house in the United States, to start the era of…

  • About This Chapter

    After failing to start its own indigenous film economy, Louisiana continues to figure prominently into Hollywood films. From the golden age…

  • About This Chapter

    The beginnings of film tax incentives came from two directions. On one hand, Louisiana policymakers wanted a film industry to boost…

  • About This Chapter

    The debate over Hollywood South often pivots on the idea of how jobs are created. What is less clear is how…

  • About This Chapter

    How has the new political economy for film production in the region impacted local culture and representations of the region? Although…

  • About This Chapter

    Here are a list of readings to help students learn about local production in the context of a global film and…