Film industry: Tax credit cap would be 'catastrophic'

Film industry: Tax credit cap would be 'catastrophic'

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - TV and film industry leaders are bracing for heavy cutbacks because the price to be Hollywood South is too steep, according to some lawmakers.

"We want to pay 30 percent of some rich people's tax credits so we can pay 30 percent of movies to be made," Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris said. "It's 30 percent of all the expenses is what this tax credit pays. You think about the $50 million I'm talking about."

Lawmakers are staring down a $1 billion deficit, and Harris believes the tax credit is one way to balance the budget.

For nearly a decade, the state has given filmmakers a 30 percent tax incentive to shoot movies in-state. A portion of that is refundable, meaning a $1 million movie would walk away with a $265,000 check from the state.

The state has given out the tax credit without a cap. Last year, the amount reached $238 million and in 2013, it was $268 million.

At the Capitol Thursday, the House passed a bill that would cap the tax incentives given to the industry at $200 million a year. Some believe that will cripple the industry.

"While I was in the state rotunda watching the bills being debated, a company texted me and said we are thinking about moving to Georgia," Film Production Capital President Will French said.

Millions in tax credits are already set aside for movies that are expected to start filming in the next three years, and French says with a cap, movie executives will start backing out.

"If they stop coming, the studios are vacant. There are no production jobs. The businesses that service the industry go out of business. It's catastrophic," he said.

"That's what made us so valuable, that we don't have a cap," Director of St. Bernard Parish Office of Film and Television Ryan Fink said.

But with the bargaining chip in limbo, industry leaders are trying to stop the bill from becoming law.

The bill is headed to a Senate committee and is expected to be debated on the Senate floor.

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