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Lawmakers trying to recharge Louisiana’s movie industry

For the first time, Savannah is getting a closer look at just how much the film and TV industry...
For the first time, Savannah is getting a closer look at just how much the film and TV industry benefited the city in 2019.(WTOC)
Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawmakers are working at the state capitol this week to come up with a plan to attract more movie and television productions to Louisiana.

“Now that they have all those safety measures in place, they know they can film a project successfully without a lot of setbacks or anything like that, um, that’s really starting to get that backlog of projects rolling again,” Aaron Bayham with Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge explains.

For the last five years, Louisiana has seen more movie and TV productions returning to the state, but Bayham says now they must keep the ball rolling.

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“Since 2017 we’ve been steadily getting busier and pulling you know some of that production back from Georgia and other states,” he says.

According to Bayham, the upswing in production is a result of the incentive program put in place in 2017 that gives companies an exact estimate on how much money they would save with the state’s tax credits.

“That’s what really stabilized the program is just having those caps in place and we know what they are and they’re not gonna change and production knows when they submit that application and they get pre-approval, that they’re gonna be able to count on those incentives that they’re banking on,” Bayham says.

Lawmakers are working to come up with a plan to attract more movie and television productions...
Lawmakers are working to come up with a plan to attract more movie and television productions to Louisiana.(WAFB)

But the incentives placed in 2017 expire in 2025, so state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R - Slidell) wants to extend that to at least 2028, saying these companies need to know way ahead of time what to expect before agreeing to film in a particular area.

“So, if we have a sunset that is too near term, we’re gonna be losing business”, said Hewitt.

And with these projects come thousands of jobs.

“They’re hiring everything from construction guys to accountants, to the production office, to the art department, and unless you’ve been on a film set and seen what that beehive of activity looks like you don’t quite grasp everything that goes into making an hour and a half or two-hour project”, said Bayham.

And according to the lieutenant governor’s office, more than half of Louisiana’s tourists said a movie or show about the state or in the state is what drove them to pay a visit. The bill, SB173, passed out of House committee this afternoon and its next stop is the full House floor.

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