McCOMB, Miss. (AP) — Many movies filmed in Mississippi in recent years have used Natchez, Jackson and the Delta counties for locations.

But the director of the Mississippi Film Office tells the Enterprise-Journal ( that Pike County is appealing.

McComb is "a good small town," Ward Emling said in a recent visit. "It's got a consistency to it. You haven't let your downtown get all boarded up."

He also called Felders Campground, with two rows of cabins surrounding a covered tabernacle, "one of the coolest locations I've ever seen in Mississippi."

Emling said he scouted locations in Pike County about 15 years ago and had even booked hotel rooms for a film crew. He doesn't remember the title of the movie, but said Universal and Miramax were unable to agree on financing, which delayed the project. It later went to North Carolina.

All the film office needs to appeal to Hollywood, he said, are hotels and good locations.

"That's essentially it," he said. "Hollywood people love airports that are two minutes away from their hotel.

"One of the things that has hurt McComb over the years is that it's midway between two places," he added, referring to Jackson and New Orleans. "The airports are a little far away."

New Orleans has become a favorite location for filmmakers, he said, predicting that Mississippi will benefit if the movie industry gets too busy and crowded in Louisiana.

Also boosting his efforts is a change in state law that gives greater incentives to filmmakers. Mississippi's incentives now match those offered by Louisiana, and he said that will help attract more movies to this state.

"The film industry is an industry," Emling said. "It operates from a bottom-line, incentive-driven kind of appeal."

He said McComb should consider a movie crew as a small business rather than a chance to meet celebrities.

"The thing about a film, it is kind of like a little factory that comes to town," he said. "When they come in, they reach out everywhere a small startup would reach: office supplies, furniture, utilities, food, bottled water. Then drycleaners, grocery stores, food supply places, car services.

"They say the impact of 'The Help' was $13 million to $15 million in that community. I know they directly spent $6 million in Greenwood," he said.


Information from: Enterprise-Journal,