by Anita Busch
August 15, 2016 11:41am
Louisiana‘s tax incentive program started scaling back two years ago, resulting in a 75% loss of jobs for union crews. Because of redemption caps, buybacks and budget cuts, the premiere production facility in Baton Rouge — the Celtic Media Centre — has largely been left vacant. The facility has now opened their doors to 3,500 displaced resident who have sought shelter there from the massive flooding which has claimed many homes on the Eastern side of the city. The Celtic Studios is the premier facility in the area and has been used for such productions as the TV seriesUnderground, the first season of MTV’s Scream, NBC/Universal’s Battleship and Summit’s Twilight installments of Breaking Dawn 1 and Breaking Dawn 2. 20th Century Fox also filmed there for its Fantastic Four superhero film.
It has 150,000 square feet of stage space which Deadline was told was crammed to capacity by midnight last night. In fact, the Celtic Media Centre has taken in more evacuees than any other facility in the area.
While the industry has basically abandoned Louisiana for productions in Georgia,Patrick Mulhearn, the executive director of Celtic Studios said, “There are a lot of misconceptions about what is going on with the tax-incentive program. A lot of business has left because of those misconceptions. The fact is that you can monetize your credits in less than a year after the moment they are issued for all new projects going forward.”
“This is Baton Rouge’s Katrina moment. We’ve actually have done this before when Hurricane Isaac hit in 2012 and it worked out really well. This was before Beasts of the Southern Wild was released, and Fox Searchlight actually screened it for volunteers here which was a real morale booster,” said Mulhearn.
The Celtic Media Centre has become the epicenter for re-joining family members and getting help to the victims of the flooding. The first buses started coming in at 5 AM. For short-term, the Red Cross is helping get families to shelter but were stretched so thin they didn’t initially show up, said Mulhearn, who urged a larger response. He said that evacuees need help.
“We need an industry response to this,” said Mulhearn. “We need to think about what assets do we have to help people recover not only in Baton Rouge but wherever disaster happens.”