Spring 2015

Eric Fox Hays

Big Easy AD

First AD Eric Fox Hays relocated to New Orleans from Los Angeles in 2012 and, ironically, his first TV job was Common Law, whose pilot featured the Venice Beach Boardwalk and surf and sand locations that did not exist in Louisiana.

"That series never saw the beach again," Hays says with a laugh. "It's so hard to make New Orleans look like Beverly Hills or Downtown L.A. Shooting a feature for someplace else is more doable because you can find little pockets. But the architecture, culture, and look of New Orleans is so different than anywhere else."

In his adopted home, Hays worked on Star-Crossed, set outside Baton Rouge. He considers the long prep time for makeup and tattoos on that show, as well as having to construct a primary location out of cargo containers, a fun scheduling challenge. "Visually it was so interesting to make the alien and human world collide," he says.

Hays says his current show, NCIS: New Orleans, capitalizes on the best the production community has to offer: "We can put a camera down anywhere in the French Quarter and get a great backdrop." He cites a recent scene—shot on Bourbon Street where a character stumbles out from a bar and is hit by a taxicab—as an example of how shooting-friendly New Orleans is.

"Here you put your cameras up in the air, place your extras in the street, put up sandwich boards to let everyone know we're shooting a scene from NCIS, and, with a few thousand people watching, pull off a complex stunt without a hitch."

Action, of course, is a big part of the NCIS universe. For one episode, Hays helped stage a vehicle chase, explode a mobile home, and crash a few cars, all in one day.

"It was epic," Hays says, "and a great example of how controlled and safety-minded our team is. Working with the director, producer, UPM, and safety and stunt coordinators, we rehearsed at 25 percent, 50 percent, and then revved up to full speed."

Hitting on every cylinder is how Hays describes the current climate of New Orleans' production scene. Since Hurricane Katrina, Hays notes, "I can definitely say the film community has come all the way back and much, much more. It's not just about the tax incentives—the food, the music, the lifestyle are completely unique."

(Photo: Courtesy Eric Fox Hays)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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