BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Although the amount of films being made in Louisiana and Baton Rouge is not what it was before the state legislature capped the film tax in 2015, production is beginning to pick up again, officials say.
Eight productions have either wrapped or are in pre-production in Baton Rouge since new enhancements to the film tax program went into effect in July.
Earlier this month, FilmNation announced it would be starting production here in March 2018 on the $50.3 million budget World War II drama, Greyhound, starring Tom Hanks. The production is expected to spend an estimated $29.5 million in the state including $7.6 million in payroll for Louisiana residents, according to Louisiana Economic Development.
The Baton Rouge Film Commission is working to lure more film and television productions like Greyhound to the capital city. Katie Pryor, executive director of the commission, says despite being capped Baton Rouge has some attractive tax incentives for filmmakers.
Louisiana offers a 25 percent base tax credits for projects that film in the state. Filmmakers can also earn an additional 5 percent tax credit if production takes place outside of the New Orleans metro area, and an additional 10 percent if the screenplay was written by a Louisiana resident.
Pryor calls the last two tax incentives "groundbreaking" because she believes they can help sustain the film industry in the state for the long haul. She says the 5 percent tax credit for productions outside of the New Orleans metro area will "spread the wealth" to other communities across Louisiana. East Baton Rouge Parish also offers a 2 percent sales tax rebate to filmmakers.
"I think 2018 will be a really good year for Baton Rouge. And I think 2019 will be even better," Katie Pryor told WAFB. The executive director said that Louisiana, and Baton Rouge in particular, already has a lot of positive things going for it.
Pryor believes Baton Rouge is poised to attract more productions in 2018 and beyond because it already has a great reputation with filmmakers and studios. Before the state's legislature capped the film tax incentive program in 2015, Baton Rouge hosted such major productions as Pitch Perfect, Battle for Los Angles, Battleship, to name a few. She says skilled crew members already living in the area and existing studio infrastructure should reel more projects in the coming months.
The film commission, which is a division of the Baton Rouge Mayor's Office, works to attract film and television productions to the capital region. Once filmmakers decide on the red stick, Pryor's office assists producers in the pre-production process.
BRFC staff members will help perspective filmmakers scout filming locations, obtain permits, law enforcement details (if filming requires a road closure), and other parts of the pre-production process. What the film commission does not do is help production recruit talent or extras.
The film commission maintains a database of qualified crew members, as well as, residences and businesses that can serve as filming locations, which makes it easier for productions that are eyeing Baton Rouge.
"It's hard to breeze into a town and learning everything about it in a three-day scout. It's so much easier to go on a website and go 'hey look there's a list of the people who service the (film) industry, the people who work in the (film) industry, places you can shoot, and here's the permitting process.'"
If you have experience working in the film industry or have a home or business that would make a great filming location you can register at http://filmbatonrouge.com/community/getregistered/. If you don't have any experience but are looking to be a part of the film industry the film commission has links to casting agencies that are looking for people to appear extras.