Waterfront: February 2007 - Making Waves; Novel Networking

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Making Waves

Time for a sea change in Louisiana

After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana may seem like the last place a Hollywood studio would go to film a motion picture, but if the movie required realistic looking sea action, a new company outside of Shreveport could fit the bill nicely.

Two businessmen, Ken Atchity, chairman of Atchity Entertainment International, and Fred Griffin, of Houston's Griffin Partners, have opened Louisiana Wave Studio, the only motion picture-dedicated facility with built-in, automatically generated waves in the United States, and only six miles from downtown Shreveport.

The 750,000-gallon tank, built to film The Guardian starring Kevin Costner, is capable of generating waves up to 9 feet tall, as well as recreating horizontal storm conditions. Atchity, who was looking for a way to shoot a film about Katrina's impact on Charity Hospital in New Orleans, came across the Shreveport tank and realized it was slated for removal. "I'm thrilled to be able to make a contribution to the infrastructure of the booming Louisiana film industry," Atchity said, adding that his company is preparing a number of films to be shot in the state.

The tank measures 100 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 8 feet deep with dump tanks on one side that can be mounted 50 feet in the air, atop wide chutes to pour water onto actors or set pieces like ship decks, and three 150-horsepower fans and eight hidden chambers are used to churn up waves of any type or configuration. The Guardian used set pieces constructed to resemble cargo ships, fishing boats and a giant water cave, and used high cranes and film production equipment including lights, scaffolding and camera cranes to film the watery action. So next time you see a movie featuring the wide-open sea, you may just be seeing Louisiana.

Novel Networking

Dealer invites chamber members over for a soak  

Looking for another great way to generate leads? Host a chamber of commerce meeting. In Harwich, Mass., home to Cape Cod Aquatics, the local chamber has a monthly Harwich Business After Hours informal meeting hosted by one of its members. "It's good exposure, especially because we're kind of a small-town business, so word of mouth is everything," says Michelle Treese, co-owner of Cape Cod Aquatics. "So you get to know the bankers and the realtors and other small businesses and, sooner or later, they or their friends are going to be buying a hot tub and of course, what name will pop up. The business that they know and have been to and have talked to the owners, and know a little bit more about."

The Jacuzzi Hot Tubs dealer hosted about 50 chamber members last October and invited them to bring their suits, a few of whom did and took a test soak. Everyone got to learn about the dealer's products during an informative talk they gave. "By meeting other local business owners, not only do we get to expose our product to them," says Treese, "but we also get to learn different tricks they do to bring in more customers, given that our business is so seasonal."

Treese plans to network in a variety of other ways in the future, as well. "We have children, so I'm getting more involved with school, and I'm just trying to do anything to get the advantage over our competition," she says. "I think by networking when your competitors aren't, right there you've got the edge."

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