Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Official unfazed by other states’ film incentives

City Business New Orleans,

California has joined the film and television incentive game, giving Louisiana’s tax break program more competition. But the state program’s leaders don’t see Louisiana leaving the limelight anytime soon.
A $500 million incentive program signed into law by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February began taking applications July 1, adding California to a list of more than 40 states with active incentive programs, Louisiana Office of Entertainment Development director Chris Stelly said.
When Louisiana began its program in 2002, only a handful of other states had similar programs, but the added competition hasn’t hurt, Stelly said.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect Louisiana,” he said. “You have to take the sum total of everything we’re doing into account. We have a deep crew base; it’s a lot more cost-efficient to shoot here with lower crew rates and lower hotel rates.”
Four feature-length movies are filming in Louisiana and nine more are in preproduction, Stelly said.
“We’re consistently in the top five states,” he said. “When folks are setting up their budgets for movies, Louisiana is always in the top five for locations. They look at the incentive and they measure the numbers to see what they’re going to get back by shooting here, but then they see the other factors like artistic value and crew base. Creatively we have become a great fit for a number of pictures.”
An upcoming film, “Battle of Los Angeles,” will film throughout Louisiana despite being set in Hollywood, Stelly said.

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