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Why Louisiana has become the Cajun Hollywood

Friday, July 9, 2010 - 11:27am

While many businesses are struggling because of the Crisis on the Coast, one industry is booming. That's the film industry.

Right now, Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd are in Baton Rouge filming a new movie, Flypaper, and NBC 33's Kelsey Scram has been on the set to find out why Louisiana is becoming a film-making hot spot.

A movie may only last two hours, but it takes hundreds of people, months of time, and a major investment to make it all possible. Investing here in Louisiana is "easy" for film-makers because of generous tax credits, which proves, if you build it, they will come. And, if you give them a tax credit, they'll come even faster.

"You can hardly walk through a theater without seeing posters of movies that were filmed here," Gerad Martin, a camera operator currently working on the set of Flypaper, said.

Since 2002 Tax incentives have brought the entertainment business to cajun country.

"A lot of different states have tax incentives, but ours is up there with the best," Alan Crawford, locations manager for Flypaper, explained.

Any film project that costs over three hundred thousand dollars gets a thirty percent tax credit, so for a million dollar movie, producers save three-hundred-thousand dollars in taxes.

"That's why the book is here," Crawford continued. "As long as the tax credit stays, the money will keep coming in."

The industry has skyrocketed.

"I understand fifty-six movies will be shot here in Louisiana this year alone," Martin added.

It's just one reason why screenwriter Scott Moore says the Red Stick is the perfect site for Flypaper, a crime comedy about a bank robbery gone wrong.

"The movie for the most part takes place in a bank so we could have shot it anywhere and so it was really for the hospitality and the convenience of shooting down here," he said.

Louisiana has become a film friendly state, not only for its good food and gracious locals, but for its versatile landscape.

"By my own accord, you can cheat Louisiana for about thirty-eight states," Daniel Rector, camera and lighting operator for Flypaper, explained. "And with the diversity of architecture and people here, it's a great resource."

A resource some traveled far and wide to find. Just to end up coming home.

"It's great to be home and to do the things that I thought I'd be doing in California, but I don't have to go there. I can be here," Hank Langois, Casting Director for Flypaper, said.

Bad economy or not, in this business, there always seems to be work.

"I've pretty much worked straight through the last four months," Mel Perkikis, an extra working on the set of Flypaper, noted."

And there's something for everyone.

"There's a job in the film industry for every personality type. There's tons of films going on. Anybody can do it. As long as you breathe and walk, you can be an extra."

Aside from the obvious benefits of the tax credit, film-makers tell me they feel good about being able to create work for people.

"It's nice to be shooting down here and brining some additional jobs to the economy when so many other jobs have been shut down," Moore said.

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