- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

HOLDEN, La. (AP) - Actor-writer-director John Schneider has opened a film production studio near Holden in Livingston Parish.

A 35 percent tax incentive available through the Louisiana Department of Economic Development influenced his decision to acquire the rural acreage last year, Schneider said.

Schneider added, however, “My decision to build in Louisiana is based on the work ethic and enthusiasm of the people here. Passion for working hard and then relaxing hard is like a breath of fresh air since everyone in California takes their office (work) home with them.”

Schneider said he didn’t wait long to begin improvements on the 58-acre, former campground, just west of the Tickfaw River on the south side of U.S. Highway 190.

“I shot ‘Smothered’ at the property last summer and was quite impressed with its versatility . but also the overall vibe of the place,” Schneider said. “If ever there was a studio where passionate filmmakers could come to immerse themselves in the project at hand, with no distractions, this is it.”

Schneider wrote and directed “Smothered,” a horror film scheduled for completion at the new studio later this year. He said the film’s producer is Doug Blake, who was executive producer for “The Sessions,” a 2012 film that starred Helen Hunt.

In addition to the Tickfaw River, Schneider said he was attracted to the property because of its variety of outdoor scenery - including a small lake, swamp and a bamboo forest.

“For 100 years, it (the Holden property) was Camp Singing Waters,” Schneider said.

The camp now is John Schneider Studios.

The rural Livingston Parish complex includes a 5,000-square-foot soundstage with 20-foot ceilings. Also available for indoor and outdoor filming are two homes, one built around 1910 and the other around 1950.

Outbuildings include an enclosed cafeteria/production office and a covered eating area.

The property also has a 250,000-gallon swimming pool with a maximum depth of 14 feet, added officials with Louisiana Entertainment, an arm of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.

State officials said Schneider plans to add post-production sound and editing capabilities to the studio by May. Other planned additions include an on-site chef and living quarters for key film crew members.

“I am putting in a pre-mix sound room that will be available for ‘Anderson Bench,’ when we are done with principal photography,” Schneider said, adding that his film will be ready for the sound room in May.

“‘Anderson Bench’ is a rather twisted love story,” said Schneider, who wrote it. “Anderson Bench (is a man who) has never had a dream or a goal, never. When Bethany comes into his life, he sees adventure, daring, life. The twisted part is that he sees it mostly in death.

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