Some Good News

As the weather heats up, the film industry is getting some relief.

Summer is in full swing, which means the film industry, like many of us, slows down for a while.

This summer, however, there is some much-needed good news — the first being that the state is again buying back film tax credits at the rate of 85 percent of face value. The suspension that started July 1 of last year officially ended June 30 — welcome news for an industry struggling for some sense of stability.

Unused tax credits also roll over and — according to the president of the Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association (LFEA), Robert Vosbein, in his president’s letter last month — this could result in over $50 million added to the annual $180 million tax credit cap for the upcoming fiscal year.

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Efforts have also been made to clarify language from last year’s changes that has been particularly detrimental for local film crews. Due to murky language, 6 percent of all payments to film crews, including things like housing, per diems and other non-taxable items, have been withheld. The change brought grief to not only crews, buy payroll personnel.

Thanks to work from the LFEA to change the language of the tax to apply to only taxable income, relief on this issue is expected in the near future. As of press date, the legislation had passed the House and Senate and was waiting on the Governor for approval.

Though not called into the second special section, LFEA continues to fight for the industry.

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“Even though anti-film legislators often refuse to acknowledge it, the economic impact from film productions is estimated by the state’s experts to be between $1 billion to $1.6 billion per year,” says Vosbein in his June letter. “Local economies enjoyed an average infusion of $6-$9 for every $1 the state spent to encourage film and television production. LED experts believe that for every direct job created by film production, two indirect jobs are created.”

In light of the recent good news, the LFEA is determined to spread the word to Hollywood.

“Over the summer, LFEA plans to lead a delegation with LED officials, local leaders and key legislators to visit Hollywood and meet with producers and studios executives one-on-one,” Vosbein said in his letter. “Our goal is to educate them further about the developments that kick in on July 1 and encourage them to bring film productions back to Louisiana.”

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Meanwhile, production continues.
 

Beginning Production

On June 27, principle production began on two feature films, “Supercon” and “Girls Trip.”

Set in the colorful world of comic book conventions, “Supercon” stars a group of comic book artists and former stars who conspire to rob a crooked promoter. The comedy is written and directed by Zac Knutsen (co-founder of ChopShop Entertainment out of Newport Beach, California) and is set for a 2017 release.

Universal’s “Girl’s Trip” — produced by Will Packer (“Ride Along,” “Think Like a Man”) and directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“Barbershop: The Next Cut”) — chronicles the adventures of four friends who travel to New Orleans for Essence Festival. Expected release is August 11, 2017.
 

Wrapping This Summer

“Mudbound” a feature film set after World War II in rural Mississippi that features, among others, famed singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige and Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan (“An Education,” “Suffragette”) wraps July 9.

On July 14, principle production wraps on a new TV series for the Oprah Winfrey Network called “Queen Sugar.” Co-created by Winfrey, the series — based on the novel by the same name by Natalie Baszile — tells the story of two sisters who inherit an 800-acre sugarcane farm.

“Juarez” a new medical drama for FOX, wraps August 19. 
 



Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.

 


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