The Entertainment Jobs Creation Program now gives a company payroll tax credit of 15 percent or 20 percent of annual W2 wages for companies that create at least five new entertainment-related jobs in Louisiana. This credit is above and beyond the production credits mentioned earlier.
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From development to distribution, no other state rewards long-term commitment and permanent job creation like Louisiana. Housing in Baton Rouge will cost you 61 percent less than in Los Angeles. The bottom line: Louisiana is better for your bottom line. Practice makes perfect. Awards and nominations have been plentiful.
In fact, Louisiana has averaged at least one nominee for Best Picture at the Academy Awards every year since With purpose-built stages and the equipment and resources you would expect from a major production hub, Louisiana can help any filmmaker or producer do more for less. It is a part of our culture, which is legendary for being so welcoming and unique. From the extra love and care that goes into our food to the soul that shines through in our musicians, the joie de vivre of our people makes all the difference.
Faith and fellowship certainly play a vital a role in our culture and the way we treat our guests. Seventy-one percent of adults in Louisiana are considered highly religious, and 84 percent of Louisiana residents identify as Christian. The movie was shot at various sites around the Baton Rouge, with a production crew was based at the Celtic Media Centre. But Hanks was likely most frequently spotted on the downtown riverfront at the U.
Large parts of the film were also filmed at Celtic Studios on Airline Highway. After a couple of years of declining action and losing projects to other states, Louisiana is back in the game, thanks to progressive revisions to the longstanding film industry tax credit program.
With each passing year after it launched, a growing number of films and television shows said yes to shooting here. To support the industry, training programs in film production became part of the curricula at many statewide community and technical colleges. And private production facilities, including the mammoth Celtic Media Centre, opened their doors. Local residents recall portions of the interstate were shut down as the General Lee, driven by Bo and Luke Duke played by Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville fled from fictional law enforcement.
The level of activity helped Louisiana become the third most popular filmmaking destination behind Los Angeles and New York, earning it the nicknames Hollywood South and Hollywood on the Bayou. But many lawmakers regarded the tax credit program as too generous, especially in a state with chronic budget woes. In , the Louisiana Legislature made abrupt revisions to the tax credit program with a new cap on projects and a lack of clarity about how much the actual tax credits would be.
The murky revisions created uncertainty among filmmakers. But a lot of projects did move to other locations. Many left abruptly for Atlanta. In , Georgia was ranked No. Recognizing the need to right the ship, the legislature revised the tax credit program again in , this time with more specificity and new incentives intended to build a healthy film industry and statewide workforce over the long term. Things were quiet at Celtic for a while, but Bayham says they are starting to pick up.
Producers often call to ask if the facility is outside of the metro New Orleans area. High-profile Baton Rouge projects underway include a Marvel Studios film that will shoot on location this summer. The project set up a business office at Celtic Media Centre in December and ultimately shot over about two months at Celtic and downtown. As for locations, Celtic Studios remains the largest studio facility in the Gulf South, with , square feet of stage space and , square feet of office space.
Moreover, real locations around the region lend themselves to a variety of looks, Pryor says. The Baton Rouge Film Commission keeps a database of possible locations to make scouting faster and easier. Film industry watchers in Louisiana say one of the biggest current challenges is finding enough people in the state to work on the growing number of new film projects. The momentum Louisiana had achieved in developing this workforce slipped between and as crews, including grips, lighting technicians, production staff and others, followed projects to different states.
The way to attract and keep talent over the longterm is to make sure you have a succession of projects, says Jillian Hall, Baton Rouge programs manager at NOVAC Baton Rouge, which provides education and training in filmmaking. But the funding, which came from a Community Development Block Grant, ceased after the grant was reallocated for flood recovery projects. For several years now, Baton Rouge Community College has offered a two-year degree in entertainment technologies, which gives students practical experience in production. And LSU has expanded its focus on films with two options for undergraduates.
These gatherings appeal to an enthusiastic group of local filmmakers who feel bullish about Baton Rouge, especially now that more projects are returning to the area. Independent director and cinematographer Abe Felix is one example. He quit his day job with an advertising firm in to work full time as a filmmaker. Both films will be hitting the short-film festival circuit this year. Ideally, Hall says, a community with a healthy film industry has both outside projects from Hollywood, as well as strong indigenous filmmakers. Indeed, part of the new tax credit revisions include a fund that will support the work of local artists.
It will take a few years for it to be available, but its intention is to help regional filmmakers tell their stories. Waitr, the rapidly growing tech startup that provides restaurant delivery service through its signature app, has acquired select assets of Indie Plate, which shuttered earlier this month, and is launching a restaurant incubator designed to help aspiring chefs in Baton Rouge get their restaurants off the ground.
The Waitr Restaurant Incubator Lab, as the new initiative is called, will be located at Celtic Studios, where Indie Plate had its 1,square-foot commercial kitchen and ran its dinner-to-door meal subscription service. Waitr founder Chris Meaux had been thinking for a couple of years about developing a restaurant incubator in Baton Rouge, which is one of the strongest markets for the Lake Charles-based Waitr. As envisioned, the Waitr Restaurant Incubator Lab will allow aspiring chefs to work out of the kitchen at Celtic and will help them develop brands, menus and meals, which will then be promoted, sold and delivered through the Waitr app.
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This just takes some of the risk out of helping them succeed. Meaux did not say how much Waitr paid Indie Plate for its equipment. Meaux hopes the kitchen will be up and running later this spring. He says a couple of potential users are already on board and Waitr is seeking more. The head of Louisiana's largest film and television production studio says he hopes to see the sluggish movie-making industry rebound in the coming year after a steep downturn that followed changes to the state tax incentive program. The Baton Rouge Metro Council on Wednesday approved a new 2-cent tax rebate on every dollar of purchases related to movie production — a move that Mulhearn said could help as the industry tries to build back.
The generous incentives that Louisiana has offered to the film and television industry were frequently targeted as Louisiana cycled through repeated state budget shortfalls. At the same time, the state suspended the option to cash in the credits at a discount, which meant film-makers who benefited from the program either apply credits against their own taxes or sell them to a third party.
On July 1, the state began to buy back the credits that tapped out the program within a matter of weeks. John Bel Edwards in July launched a full-scale review of the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit program that he said would help chart out a long-term plan for an incentive program that better serves the state. And state lawmakers say they expect to revisit the topic when the Legislature meets next year.
Mulhearn said he's courting a scripted-television show for , but he wouldn't elaborate on the project. After hosting Gov. John Bel Edwards' inaugural ball in January that drew nearly 4, attendees, Mulhearn said the studio has been actively booking other events.
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Space also has been rented out to FEMA to be used as a disaster recovery center, and Mulhearn has entertained the idea of forming a partnership with a medical marijuana provider to lease space, though he declined to elaborate during the press club meeting. Following the floods, the studio served as a shelter for thousands of people who were displaced from their homes. Baton Rouge could become a bigger part of Hollywood South, at least that's the idea behind a measure that was passed by the Metro Council Wednesday night.
Mulhearn said Celtic has had trouble competing for projects because four areas in Louisiana already have tax incentives: Jefferson Parish, Shreveport, Lafayette, and St. Bernard Parish. The stages here are certainly a draw, but again, people are pinching pennies, and they're looking to see what is the best way to get the most bang for my buck," Mulhearn said. Celtic has been a part of many big budget projects, such as the most recent Fantastic Four film, the Twilight series, and Battleship.
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However, Mulhearn said business slowed down after the Louisiana legislature instituted a statewide limit on film tax credits in A lot of that stability and predictability is coming back now though and so people are giving Louisiana another shot," Mulhearn said. He could not say which studio or series.
Perhaps, one day, producers will again flock to Baton Rouge and use the cavernous sound stages on Airline Highway to make blockbuster hits. But for a long time to come, the state-of-the-art movie studio will best be remembered around here for the starring role it played in the early days of the historic flood of Today Celtic is dark.
Those who still need a place to stay have been consolidated with other displaced flood victims in the Baton Rouge River Center downtown, which is now a Red Cross-run shelter.