Just a few years after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana has successfully opened its doors to the audiovisual industry and today has a well structured organization that managed to accommodate a record number of fifty-seven productions – in 2007 alone – with a total production investment of five hundred million dollars in the local territory.
These are very important figures which could be even better in 2008 as the southern state is continuing its policy of tax incentives with the establishment of a 25% tax credit, to which another 10% is added if local technicians and personnel are employed. “Louisiana was the first state to offer production companies this extremely advantageous type of tax credit,” explains Cherreen Gegenheimer, head of the Film Office in Jefferson Parish, one of the seven active jurisdictions of southeastern Louisiana, with a population of two million.
“We have very modern infrastructures, including top quality film studios where Paramount, for example, has recently made a movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett called “˜The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’.
This two hundred million dollar production proves that Louisiana is back in business following the tragedy of Katrina, and that Hollywood continues to show a lot of interest in our state.
For this reason, the six jurisdictions in our state can now introduce additional tax breaks on a local level.
In fact, companies choosing to shoot a movie in Jefferson Parish can obtain an additional 3% credit”.
In addition to the economic advantages, Louisiana can offer a range of different panoramas and, above all, the attraction of multicultural cities like New Orleans.
“The vast amount of experience accumulated in recent years has made us “˜reliable’ in the eyes of the Studios”, continues Cherreen Gegenheimer.
“We can carry out all types of projects with an efficient and dynamic organization: the general idea is that Louisiana more or less resembles the French quarter of New Orleans.
That’s not true.
In just our area we have six cities that have had very different immigration experiences including many Germans and Italians.
Louisiana is a very large state that can offer some big surprises”.
There are no “˜surprises’, however, from a logistics viewpoint as the state is very well equipped with warehouses, offices which can be used by film crews and post-production structures.
According to the head of the film office “Louisiana has no image problem: what happened in the past is behind us and it is possible to make any movie or TV product entirely within our state”.
Now the strength of the Euro in relation to the US dollar offers new prospects for the Film Commission: “Our next objective is to try and attract as many European productions as possible, offering a combination of incentives and professional skills.
We want production companies to know that they can get a lot of work done with us and have fun in their free time”.
And finally, Gegenheimer says: “We know that we are on the point of being “˜discovered’ by international producers, particularly European ones.
Louisiana has everything you can imagine when you think about the classic iconography of our state, as well as many other favorable elements.
The winters are never too cold and we have a number of “˜special’ locations such as military establishments”.