Louisiana film productions see uptick

Louisiana film productions see uptick

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The state's film industry continued to slump for much of the year, but appears to be going into the new year on an uptick thanks to new local rebates and other factors.

In a perfect world, the shelves at Silver Screen Rentals would be empty.

"You're seeing it at as low a level as we've seen in two years," said owner Robert Vosbein.

The company rents everything from tents to generators for film productions, and business is only a fraction of what it was two years ago due to changes in the way film tax credits were awarded.

"The manner in which the cap was placed has caused problems for the studios. We have to change that," said Vosbein.

The City of New Orleans estimates it has lost around $200 million in film production business, and other parishes are also hurting.

"We were down about 70 percent over the last year," said Jason Waggenspack with The Ranch studios in Chalmette.

Last year, the state placed a $180 million cap on film production credits. That - coupled with the fact that those credits could only be awarded on the back end - sent producers packing for places like Georgia.

"Atlanta has taken a lot of our business away from us, and we need to get that back," said Vosbein.

Louisiana movie industry advocates hope the legislature adjusts film tax credits in the coming year, allowing filmmakers to know up front if they would qualify for credits. They believe that will help the industry plan for the future, and could boost local productions.

But the $180 million cap is likely going to stay.

"We're not going to increase the tax credits. I'm trying to provide as much stability as possible," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.

While the state fine tunes it's film industry tax credit program, parish governments have moved in to try and make movie making more lucrative for producers.

It has been 10 months since producers shot the movie "Deepwater Horizon" at The Ranch.

"We had over 2,000 people on our property," Waggenspack said. "They spent their money at our stores and  restaurants - all spent in our parish."

Now, St. Bernard passed a 3.5 percent local rebate on film production to bring more producers back, and it may be already working. Another movie producer recently booked The Ranch until mid-summer and has already begun building soundproof walls.

"The rebate caused them to really look hard at our parish," said Waggenspack.

And with more adjustments to the state film tax credit program in the year ahead, local studio owners hope other film producers will return. Local film advocates say business is picking up in Louisiana, in part because Georgia is saturated with productions right now like Louisiana was two years ago.

They don't believe we will get back to that level with the current cap, but they do believe production will increase if the law is changed to award credits on the front end.

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