Lights! Camera! Taxes! - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Lights! Camera! Taxes!

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

A proposed change to tax credits for the Louisiana's film industry is one that has some filmmakers threatening to pack up. House Bill 161 is scheduled to be introduced and that could change the slogan to lights, camera and taxes.

"It's hands down a decision that would take a millisecond to make," said Scott Niemeyer, a native from Louisiana turned Hollywood producer.

It's a decision that could cost the state more than a billion dollars when it comes to the film industry.

Louisiana's tax credit program began in 2002 when movies brought in $20 million for the state. Since then though, the film industry has increased a hundred times grossing more than $2 billion annually.

The reason for the bayou state ranking third in film production is a 30% tax credit.

"In the last 10 years, I've made six movies in the state," said Niemeyer.

Niemeyer is pumping millions into the local economy not only through film production, but also through plans for a $50 million studio spanning 34 acres near New Orleans. They're plans he would cancel if Representative Ted James has his way.

"It's great to say that we have all these great movies coming to Baton Rouge, and we have all these movies to the state of Louisiana, but you can't say that and then turn around and close the hospitals and fund higher education," said Rep. James.

Rep. James wants to scale back the tax credit from 30% to anywhere between 20-25% plus take out certain provisions from the program to ensure the credits only benefit Louisiana residents.

"I do not in any way want to move the film industry out of Louisiana, but just like we're asking everybody to do more with less, the film industry needs to be able to come to the table and be a part of the negotiations," said Rep. James.

"At least 40 other states have motion picture tax incentives," said Niemeyer. "...and would drive the business and industry to those other states."

Rep. James said the state pays out $200 million annually for film production. But the economic impact outweighs the fiscal cost.

Such as in 2012:

-$1.87 billion in revenues for the state

-Of that, $770.6 million were in earnings for state citizens

-15,184 jobs created by the industry

"The moment the news of the vote came out of the session, we wouldn't green light another movie in the state of Louisiana," said Niemeyer.

House Bill 161 should have been introduced Monday, but Rep. James said he wants to sit down with leaders from the film industry before presenting it. So now, it's slated to go before the Ways and Means Committee next week.

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