Published Aug 11, 2014
Written by David Dodson
Patrick Mulhearn says the American Dream "is alive and well in the Louisiana film industry," and the state should continue to compete for new film and television projects to support "a nonpolluting industry [that is] reversing the brain drain" that has been the state's curse for decades. Mulhearn, executive director of film studio Celtic Media Centre, reminded the Baton Rouge Press Club today that "everybody wants [the film] industry for a reason. These are good-paying, green jobs," and their numbers have grown exponentially as a result of the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax Incentive, a system of credits paid to companies that spend more than $300,000 a year in the state making films and television shows. "Right now, it is estimated that 14,000 jobs are supported by the film industry in Louisiana," Mulhearn said. "Compare that to the 16,000 jobs in the seafood industry." The incentive program is crucial, Mulhearn said, because the competition is so cutthroat among states and provinces trying to land big tent-pole productions. "Should we tweak the incentives? Maybe. Maybe we should have mandatory withholding [on actor salaries earned in Louisiana]. That way, Louisiana gets its cut," he said. The incentives have succeeded in planting the seeds for film infrastructure in the state, including companies like Hollywood Trucks. "I can't tell you what it means to have 400-plus trailers and trucks available here. It really brings costs down," he said. By some estimates, Louisiana leads the nation in studio film productions. "It's nice to see Louisiana at No. 1 in a good category." Mulhearn joked that he received a call from a Celtic Media Centre neighbor wondering what was causing all the loud noises during some particularly raucous filming. "That's the sound of economic development," he quipped.