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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 15:35

Louisiana Stays Active in Production

Written by  James Thompson
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beasts-of-the-southern-wild_sm-As one of the first states to offer tax incentives to attract film and television projects, Louisiana has grown into a major production center. Known as “Hollywood South,” the Bayou State is third most popular filming destination in the U.S. after California and New York after growing quickly over the past decade. Boasting one of the finest infrastructures to support film and video production, Louisiana took center stage when The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won three Oscars out of its thirteen nominations in 2009. This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated two Louisiana films for Best Picture: Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained.

Louisiana’s tried-and-true tax credit program has been in effect for more than 10 years. For 2013, the program provides a 30-percent credit for any in-state expenditure, while an additional 5 percent is added for Louisiana resident labor. This credit is fully transferable and partially refundable, providing multiple options to the production companies utilizing the credits. “I think one of the reasons that Louisiana continues to succeed is while we have a great incentive and it works, at the end of the day you still have to be able to make the picture,” explains Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly. “So you have to have diverse locations, temperate climate, ample infrastructure, and a great crew base, [and] I think we really score really well on all of the above.”

Louisiana is well known for its remarkable landscapes, including its swamps, bayous, plantations and the historic city of New Orleans. Filmmakers venturing to the state can also find Any Town, USA, Big City, USA and locations that can double for almost anywhere in the world. “Having diverse typography and diverse locations has really played to our advantage," Stelly notes. Patrick Lussier, the director of Drive Angry, also recommends shooting in Louisiana. “The film industry wants to find places it can reinvent and make look like anything it needs,” said Lussier in USA Today. “There's a lot of opportunity [to] do that in Louisiana." The state’s warm weather and diverse locations have appealed to film producers nationwide, as the subtropical climate makes filming possible year-round. The spring and fall months in particular are considered ideal for filming, with October being the driest month.

Another huge draw for the state is New Orleans’ historic and vivid locations. “Our culturally rich neighborhoods provide incredible locations and backdrops for the productions,” says Film New Orleans Director Kate Williams. “Along with the ever-expanding infrastructure, New Orleans can provide everything a production needs to make their project a success.” This infrastructure includes practical stage spaces, such as Second Line Studios and Big Easy Studios. “We’ve also seen expansion in postproduction,” adds Williams. “We’ve had two very large postproduction houses expand and relocate to the area, which provided an opportunity for locals to engage in a new area of production in the last few years. Looking forward, I think we are going to see a growth in creative development in our area.”

The creative team behind the Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild is based in New Orleans, and Director Benh Zeitlin has chosen to make his home is Louisiana. In 2012, 61 high-profile productions choose to shoot in New Orleans, such as Oscar-winner Django Unchained, The Expendables 2, The Last Exorcism Part II and Beautiful Creatures. Many of these films will open in theaters later this year, including the sci-fi Oblivion (starring Tom Cruise), the biopic 12 Years a Slave (starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender), Now You See Me, The Host, Ender’s Game, Hours, The Butler and Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy.

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