Film Industry good, but some say could be better


By James Sparvero

On the set and in studios, those in the Baton Rouge film industry expect another great year ahead. Reflecting on a list of big productions, Patrick Mulhearn calls 2014 a landmark year for Celtic Studios.

"We hit a home run with the "Fantastic Four." On top of "Fantastic Four," you had "Pitch Perfect 2" here in town," said Mulhearn, executive director at Celtic Studios.

Along with major Hollywood productions, Baton Rouge is also attracting independent filmmakers.

Production of "Vincent-N-Roxxy" closed a stretch of Government Street  Monday. "We've had an amazing time in Baton Rouge. We really wanted a little bit of a small town vibe, but we have a big city element to it and Baton Rouge really supplied us with that," said Mike Dozier, associate producer of "Vincent-N-Roxxy".

But while business is good, those in the industry say Baton Rouge is at a disadvantage competing against other locations within the state. Cities like New Orleans, Shreveport and Lafayette attract filmmakers with sales tax rebates, meaning filmmakers get back some of the sales tax they pay. Baton Rouge does not offer this incentive.

"The idea would be to offer a one cent or two cent sales tax rebate. It's something that we definitely need to study. We need to see what the fiscal impact would be of the rebate. But I think right now, considering the competition we're facing from New Orleans and Shreveport, this is something that we need to take a look at right away," said John Delgado, chairman of the Baton Rouge Film Commission.

Another issue, film unions do not recognize Baton Rouge as a designated production center, meaning when crews are brought-in from production centers out of town, filmmakers have to pay them for traveling.

"Because of union reasons, we don't have a local crew base and it's been tough growing the local crew base because we are not a designated production center. And that's something that the union will be voting on in April, and we're certainly hoping that Baton Rouge will get added to the list of production centers," said Mulhearn.

While there is no criteria for becoming a production center, the city has to convince filmmakers and unions it can house large productions and come-up with the tax rebate.