State’s entertainment development fund could give real boost to independent filmmakers
BY DAN BOUDREAUX, [email protected], NOV 12, 2018 – 9:00 AM, BUSINESS REPORTER
The Louisiana Entertainment Development Fund, which collects 2 percent of the tax credit money for producers who shoot films in the state, could be a shot in the arm for independent filmmakers.
Jolene Pinder, executive director of CREATE Louisiana, and Darcy McKinnon, executive director of the New Orleans Video Access Center, hosted a panel at the Southern Screen Film Festival Saturday morning to seek input on the fund that will be relayed to state legislators next year to set rules for the fund.
This fund will go into effect in late 2019 and will help support independent films and industry development in Louisiana.
“We will be going from having really zero resources for independent filmmakers at a state level to having a tremendous amount of money that is really guaranteed, and I think that you’re going to see it affect the quality of our independent productions,” Pinder said.
“And I think you’ll see a strong impact on the workforce as we train more people across the state to be a part of the existing industry and that’s really important, too.”
The fund is expected to generate $2-2.7 million annually and will support filmmakers trying to get matching grants, workforce development and educational programs, loan guarantees for film projects and act as a deal closing fund.
“Independent Louisiana filmmakers hire Louisiana people on their films and frequently when they can’t afford it, they’re paying other people before they can pay themselves,” McKinnon said.
“This has the power on a very micro business level to launch a small business enterprise where they can pay other Louisiana citizens to do creative work.”
Grants can help filmmakers move toward national programs like the Sundance or Tribeca film festivals or procure distribution deals, which will promote not only the filmmakers from Louisiana but also the state for future projects. That can feed more into the funds as more film and television productions coming to Louisiana from out of state having seen the work being produced locally on the national stage.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Louisiana’s arts and cultural sectors added $7.7 billion to the state’s gross domestic product. Movies made up about $2.7 billion of that, supporting more than 8,000 jobs and $383 million in wages.
The most recent economic impact study commissioned by Louisiana Economic Development and authored by Loren Scott shows the state gave out $268 million in tax credits to the film industry in 2015 and certified just over $860 million in production spending.
According to the study, taxpayers get about 22 cents back for every dollar spent on tax credits for the film program.
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