Los Angeles Mayor declares war on Louisiana’s film industry

By Jim Shannon

The mayor of Los Angeles is declaring war of sorts against Louisiana and other states he says are luring away the California film industry.

Newly-elected Mayor Eric Garcetti says he will take his message to the California Capitol to stem the tide.

Mayor Garcetti is quoted in one of the top movie industry magazines Variety as saying the movie and TV production industry is fleeing California and nesting in states like Louisiana. He calls it a "state of emergency." Statements like that do not surprise Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly.

"You know, ever since Canada and Eastern Europe came up with their incentive programs back in the early to mid 90's there has been that phenomenon of runaway productions," said Stelly.

The article in Vanity says Garcetti wants to appoint a sort-of film industry czar to ride California legislators into expanding their incentive program to keep productions in California.

California is currently at $100 million a year. Louisiana is at $150 million and New York is the highest at $450 million annually.

"We've really focused on building up an industry. So now you can come here and find everything you need. So yes, we've absolutely grown up and were a mainstay of our economy," said Stelly.

Filming is happening now in Downtown Baton Rouge. The film being shot on 3rd Street stars Nicholas Cage. It is called Left Behind and is based on a Christian novel about life after the rapture. Downtown development leaders say these films bring in the dollars.

"It's great news for us and obviously it brings a lot of business into the city; whether it's a production setup or they are staying in hotels or eating in restaurants. And so I'm happy to see that. I think it's good for Louisiana and good for Baton Rouge," said Davis Rhorer, Downtown Development.

As far as the future is concerned, Stelly says the stars are the limit.

"Whether it grows or not the future will certainly see that, but you know we have enough to maintain 14,000 jobs and you know it's really been a good business, so I think we will be doing alright for the near future," Stelly said.

The Louisiana film industry tax credit program is not without its opponents. Many say the state is not getting the returns on the investment for what is being spent.