Will Hollywood South Rise Again?
Ever since the original Tarzan Of The Apes was filmed in Morgan City in 1917, Louisiana has been a favorite location for movie and television directors. With its diverse scenery from swamps to antebellum houses to public and private college campuses and urban environments, our state can stand in for many other locales around the world.
In 2002 the state legislature passed the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax Incentive Act which provided a 30% tax credit on qualified motion picture expenditures with no project or program cap. In addition it allowed movie makers a 5% credit for payroll expenditures on Louisiana residents. To qualify for the program, producers had to spend at least $300,000 in Louisiana. That led to so many movies and television shows being filmed in the state, that we soon became know as Hollywood South. In 2013 alone the film industry spent more than $1 billion here and supported at least 10,000 jobs, according to a report for the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
But it also cost the state a lot of money. A report for the state's office of economic development showed that film incentives cost taxpayers almost nearly $170 million in 2012 — even after counting the economic benefits. Then in 2015, a bill was passed that capped the state's expenditure at $180 million per year. The movie and television industry had warned the state that passing this bill would severely curtail the number of movies and television shows that would be filmed here, and that has come to pass. As of last year, the state’s film business is down about 80%, according to, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson.
But there are those in our state who benefit greatly from the film industry doing business here, and they were at the capitol this week to speak on behalf of a bill that would stabilize the film tax incentive program.
As the Louisiana Radio Network reports, Gabriel Markel with Markel Lumber in New Orleans said that the film industry has been a tremendous benefit to his business, as he supplies materials for sets. In addition he gets building material from other Louisiana companies. Markel said, “When the movies are rolling at full speed, we’re purchasing about a million dollars’ worth of material from Louisiana sources. So it’s important to us and it's important to these guys."
Jo Banner with River Parishes Tourist Commission said that film makers spend a lot of money in our state and that media coverage of movie productions equates to advertising the Tourist Commission can't afford.
The proposed bill heads to the House floor today.