2007: Louisiana cements its reputation as Hollywood South

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 11:59 PM

By The Times-Picayune

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Louisiana has cemented its reputation as Hollywood South, thanks to the most generous incentive package in the nation. In 2002, the state began offering a tax credit program that essentially pays 30 percent of a production’s expenses as long as the project spends $300,000 in Louisiana.

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Brad Pitt talks to reporters at the premiere of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ at the AMC Elmwood Palace.

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Since Hurricane Katrina, the program has taken off; there has been a steady stream of movies and TV shows shot in the state. A sign that the business may be here to stay is the opening of sound stages and post-production studios.

New Orleans has long been the setting of movies. And since the advent of the film tax credit, movies are made here that have nothing to do with the setting. New Orleans has been Boston, New York and the Old West.

Beyond getting jobs, locals have made money renting out homes and businesses as locations. Sets have been built in City Park for some movie scenes.

Besides movies, the New Orleans-set “Treme” is shooting its third season for HBO. The show has provided steady employment for many local actors and features cameos from dozens of local politicians, musicians and journalists. A scene from the 2009 pilot was shot in The Times-Picayune’s newsroom. The Picayune has been used as a location four times in the past two years.

Tax credits have been extended to multimedia companies and theater productions. For example, Gameloft, whose video games include the mobile versions of “Assassins Creed,” is now hiring for its new studio. Gameloft says it will eventually have 146 high-paying jobs.

Critics say the state loses money on the tax credit and the high paying jobs go to out-of-town actors, directors and technical workers. But recently, two post-production facilities have opened, and there are a growing number of sound stages in and around town. Supporters say the new infrastructure will lead to a permanent growth of high-paying jobs.

Made in Louisiana: Runaway Jury, 2003 • Ray, 2004 • The Dukes of Hazzard, 2005 • Failure to Launch, 2006 • Big Momma’s House 2, 2006 •The Guardian, 2007 • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008 • Treme, 2010 • I Love You Phillip Morris, 2010 • Welcome to the Rileys, 2010 • Jonah Hex, 2010 • The Mechanic, 2011 • The Green Lantern, 2011 • Seeking Justice, 2011

Tomorrow, 2008: Young, college-educated newcomers flock to New Orleans.

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