Movie industry on the way up: growing our state economically and culturally

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 9:50am

BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Since the film industry slowly started making its way toward Louisiana, things in the bayou state have boomed.

You might recognize him from ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘Spider Man’ or even ‘The Water Boy’. Michael Papajohn got his start in film 25 years ago, right here in Baton Rouge in Tiger Stadium.

“It’s kind of like a full circle story because there are a lot of feelings behind that because it feels surreal to me.”

Now after living in Hollywood for most of his adult life, he’s back for good.

“25 years and now I am back in Baton Rouge and the movie business is here and I am here and if I want to go to LA and work I can get on a plane and we love it, its just plane easy.”

Papjohn is just one example of how the film industry here in Louisiana is changing the makeup of our state.

“It’s tough we have our work cut out for us but Louisiana has proven we can compete with anyone in the world.”

That’s right, Louisiana has proven itself. Patrick Mulhearn runs things at Celtic Media Centre which has the largest sound stages in our state and they are right in Baton Rouge. He says what was oil and gas state is now leaning toward entertainment.

“Everything you need to make a movie is here now so with the ease being here and like minded people it’s changing the fabric of the city and the fabric of Louisiana

Movies like ‘Oblivion’, ‘Battleship’, and even ‘Twilight’, all made right here.

“Since 2007 until present, the City of Baton Rouge alone has seen over 700 million in production spending and for this year there was 110 million spent just in our city alone and in surrounding parishes,” said Liza Kelso, the Assistant Director at Film Baton Rouge.

Without the support of the City of Baton Rouge and Mayor Kip Holden, the success would not have been possible.

“They are looking at a location where they can make more of a profit. We’re making an incentive for these producers to make their movies here,” noted Kelso. “There is a guaranteed buy back in our state on 85 cents to the dollar and places like Georgia don’tt have that.”

With a tax incentive program that fuels the industry, it’s safe to say we have an upper hand next to other big markets.

“I don’t think that anyone when they came up with this idea had any clue that so many other states and nations would want to follow suit and copy us,” said Mulhearn.

So now, not only is our economy flourishing by the millions of dollars spent locally, our state is now in the spotlight for others to see.

“There are real people including myself that have moved here for the film industry,” noted Kelso. “People are moving here every week from the film industry so while that’s great economically it’s also great culturally for our state.”

Papajohn tells us, the sky is the limit for Baton Rouge. “There are a lot of things happening in this state this year and I am super excited about it.”

Fueling the economy, gainfully employing our residents and creating endless opportunities, is just the beginning.

“Baton Rouge has a wonderful bright future with the film industry.”