My Brilliant Career: Betting Big on Hollywood South

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A photo rendering of Deep South Studios, which when complete will be the largest film production complex in the Southeast.

Film producer Scott Niemeyer (BSM ’87) helped create some of the biggest hits in Hollywood, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Pitch Perfect franchise. Now the Louisiana native is hoping to bring more of that business back home with a new project that could cement the state’s reputation as Hollywood South.

Niemeyer is founder and CEO of Deep South Studios, a $63.5 million film, television and digital media production complex currently being built on a 20-acre site in Algiers. With over 260,000 square feet of production space, including five state-of-the-art soundstages, the complex will be the largest film production facility in the Southeast and, Niemeyer says, a crucial component in helping to keep Louisiana’s film production business growing.

Scott Niemeyer

“Without purpose-built facilities of the caliber that the highest-end producers and production companies demand, Louisiana won’t be able to compete for the best projects,” Niemeyer says. “Access to production infrastructure is absolutely key to being able to legitimize New Orleans and Louisiana as a committed long-term production center.”

Creating a sustainable film industry in Louisiana is more than just business to Niemeyer, who grew up in Algiers not far from the Deep South site and attended Ben Franklin High School. After graduating from the Freeman School — he credits professors Peter Ricchiuti and the late Beau Parent for his strong foundation in finance and accounting — Niemeyer entered a Louisiana job market devastated by the oil bust. In search of better opportunities, he relocated to Los Angeles and quickly began his career in the entertainment business.

“It was a little bit by accident, but it immediately grew on me,” Niemeyer says. “It’s a custom manufacturing business. Each film is different, and that really appealed to me. It’s hard to get bored when your production lifecycle is 12 months.” Niemeyer landed a job as a staff accountant with Atlantic Entertainment Group, an independent production and distribution company. After a few years learning the business, he joined another production firm, Motion Picture Corp. of America. While working as vice president of finance at MPCA, Niemeyer watched in amazement as the company’s principal, Brad Krevoy, took out a
mortgage on his house to pay an up-and-coming actor’s guarantee to star in a film the company was producing.

The actor was Jim Carrey and the film was Dumb and Dumber, which went on to earn $247 million at the box office and establish
Carrey as a bona fide star.

“That movie was probably the most seminal moment for me,” Niemeyer says. “To see how Brad was able to create significant wealth and success by being able to identify an opportunity and then capitalize on it, albeit by taking significant personal risk, that showed me what the potential was for my own career.”

In 2000, Niemeyer joined the recently formed Gold Circle Films, an independent production and sales company. In addition to blockbusters like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Pitch Perfect trilogy — two of which were filmed in Louisiana — the company has produced more than 45 feature films that have grossed over $1.4 billion at the box office.

Today, with upstarts like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Apple upending traditional distribution models, the entertainment business is changing faster than ever, but with production demands continuing to exceed the supply of studio and stage space, Niemeyer is confident that Deep South will have a place.

“Our business model is agnostic,” Niemeyer says “Deep South can host a $100 million feature film or it can host a Netflix series. The stages and production environments are the same.

“It’s a brave new world,” he adds, “but one that’s just ripe with opportunities to be part of the reinvention and evolution of filmed entertainment. Who knows? There may be a couple of Tulane students in their apartment on Broadway figuring out the next distribution model. To me, that’s super exciting.”

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