Film industry ready for resurgence, boasts tax credits still best in nation

Film industry ready for resurgence, boasts tax credits still best in nation

CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana filmmakers are hopeful the trend of waning productions is nearing an end as the state begins to pay out millions of dollars in tax credits.

Since the cap of the Film Tax Credit program, movie industry leaders said the productions would leave the state.

Cory Parker, the business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union Local 478, said during this past April, it seemed like those predictions were coming true.

"We were 75 to 80 percent down and it wasn't looking good," Parker said.

But since the spring, that trend has seemed to reverse as filmmakers gain confidence in the tax incentive program.

"Right now we've had a little bit of an uptick in production. A few of those shows are wrapping, so those folks are going to have to look for work again, but we do have other shows starting to set up shop, so it's looking like a promising fall," Parker said.

In fact, local film studios think the lull in production was all sparked by a misconception that the tax credit program would not be as robust as before.

"We had a perception problem. So there was a bit of uncertainty in Hollywood, but we're currently talking to producers and studios and we actually feel pretty promising for what's moving for us in the near future," said Jason Waggenspack, Head of Possibilities - yes that's his title - at The Ranch Film Studios in Chalmette.

Waggenspack will be the first to tell you that Louisiana's tax credit is the best in the nation, and he's got a good point to make. The state is only rivaled by California and Georgia in the amount of incentives provided.

In California, the state just increased their tax incentives to $330 million a year, much more than what Louisiana offers at $180 million a year, but California only gives back 25 percent of a production's costs, compared to Louisiana's base of 30 percent on production costs.

In Georgia, there is no cap on tax credits, but films must spend at least $500,000 to qualify, compared to Louisiana's $300,000 threshold. But Louisiana also offers a 40 percent tax credit on local labor, meaning the total a production could possibly get back could be even more.

It's those reasons that have local filmmakers hopeful the stars are aligning for a resurgence in Louisiana's film industry, and one reason why The Ranch has expansion in its sights.

"It obviously means that we can start filling our spaces more, we can start seeing more activity, we can start building more like we did out here with Deepwater Horizon, so we're excited about it," Waggenspack said. "We're moving in a great direction it's just gonna take us a bit more time to actually curve that back into where we were two years ago."

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