Celtic Studio executive says tax incentives could revitalize Baton Rouge film industry

By Robbie Reynold

Baton Rouge could become a bigger part of Hollywood South, at least that's the idea behind a measure that was passed by the Metro Council Wednesday night. 

Film makers who shoot their movies in the Capital City will get a two-cent tax rebate on every dollar they spend for certain costs, mostly building materials and equipment that they rent in the parish. There will be a $500,000 limit on incentives per project.

"We've lost projects for years," said Patrick Mulhearn, the executive director for Celtic Studios. 

Mulhearn said Celtic has had trouble competing for projects because four areas in Louisiana already have tax incentives: Jefferson Parish, Shreveport, Lafayette, and St. Bernard Parish.

"It's something that's probably long overdue. The stages here are certainly a draw, but again, people are pinching pennies, and they're looking to see what is the best way to get the most bang for my buck," Mulhearn said. 

Celtic has been a part of many big budget projects, such as the most recent Fantastic Four film, the Twilight series, and Battleship. However, Mulhearn said business slowed down after the Louisiana legislature instituted a statewide limit on film tax credits in 2015.

"It made the program sort of unstable and unpredictable. A lot of that stability and predictability is coming back now though and so people are giving Louisiana another shot," Mulhearn said. "Unfortunately right now, everything seems to be going towards New Orleans. So this gives them a little extra incentive to look outside the New Orleans area." 

Mulhearn said he already called the producers of a TV series Thursday morning to tell them about the incentives and he hopes they will choose Baton Rouge. He could not say which studio or series.