Film industry workers nervous about proposed changes to tax credits

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 22 at 11:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

Louisiana is one of a handful of states offering up movie production incentives including film production tax credits. Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing changing some of those tax breaks to the dismay of many in the local film industry.

A rallying cry of sorts Friday took place outside a Metairie bar as local film industry workers banded together, upset by Jindal's plan to change movie production tax incentives.

"What has the movie industry done for you? Not only for your family, what has it done for your community?” said one member at the rally.

“This happened in L.A., this happened in New Mexico and the Carolinas,” said Johnny Rock, a local actor. “Everyone is already talking about packing up and moving to Atlanta."

Jindal's proposed tax plan calls for new limits on some tax exemptions, not allowing certain film production costs to be covered by the state's film tax credit, and limiting the amount of money that can be written off for actor salaries at $1 million per person.

Rock says last week's announcement by Jindal is already discouraging film projects from coming to the state.”People in L.A. are already saying if this happens, they're not coming.”

However, in a written statement, Stephen Moret, Louisiana's Economic Development secretary, says that is simply not the case: "We recently spoke with several of the major studios, and they continue to plan major feature film projects in Louisiana. We will continue to work closely with the industry on potential tweaks to our proposal in order to do what is best for Louisiana's economy.”
 
"Even though this bill looks like we're not paying big Hollywood stars, it’s about the people that come with them,” said Sam Sullivan, a script supervisor.

For Sullivan, who attended the rally, the governor's proposed changes would be devastating to film industry workers who contribute to the local economy.

“That's grown from 3,000 in '85 to over 14,000 people,” said Sullivan. “These are people who aren't only from here but have moved here and set up shops and businesses and livelihoods, have kids in schools, pay bills, pay taxes, buy property.”

Louisiana Economic Development says any films that get initial certification before the end of 2013 will not be impacted by these proposals. If passed, the governor's proposed plan would kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.

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