Louisiana Tax Incentives
Financial Star of Hollywood South
New Orleans is a Serious Competitor for Films
August 22, 2012
Louisiana's Tax Incentives
- 30% Investor Credit
- 5% Labor Credit
- 25% Production Credit
- 25% Infrastructure Credit
- 25% Digital Media Credit
- 25% Live Performance Credit
- 30% Investor Credit
- 5% Labor Credit
- 25% Production Credit
- 25% Infrastructure Credit
- 25% Digital Media Credit
- 25% Live Performance Credit
Rolling the Credits
Read Why New Orleans Living Magazine Calls FBT's Leonard Alsfeld - the "Financial Star of Hollywood South"FBT Film and Entertainment acts as a central resource to provide the film industry with everything it needs
“The legislators were so brilliant in this area,” Alsfeld says. “It’s easy to knock politicians, but this is one of those cases where they got it right. The tax credit laws have done more for our state than the legislators probably ever imagined themselves.”
Following groundbreaking rounds of Louisiana tax credit legislation in 2004 and 2005, more than 40 other states jumped on the bandwagon and enacted similar, often quite aggressive, tax incentives to attract film productions within their own borders. As a result, Louisiana legislators passed even more changes in 2009 to remain at the front of the pack.
“Louisiana is staying competitive because our tax credits are transferable and the net is greater,” explains Alsfeld. “And we have four different areas with state-of-the-art studios for different-size movies: New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. On top of that, we have a better workforce and a better attitude. Film companies like the way they’re treated here. There’s no paparazzi, no price jacking at hotels. Our hospitality wins them over.”
Regarding the most recent changes to the laws, Alsfeld gushes over the inclusion of tax credits for “digital media.” What is digital media? Well, it could be just about anything, and that’s the point. It might entail video games, phone downloads, iPad apps, YouTube videos, website development and on and on.
“Credits to encourage digital media companies to relocate in Louisiana were seen as an afterthought, but the beauty of the digital credit is that it makes permanent jobs where film productions make temporary jobs,” says Alsfeld. “It’s no longer the stepchild. It’s a smart bet on the future of the state.”
Since the tax credits are transferable between those who earned them and others who want to purchase them, the role of FBT Film in all this is to broker the credits between parties. But in actuality, FBT Film’s role is much bigger than that. For productions coming to town, the company has positioned itself as a central resource. It taps local partners to provide functions like payroll, accounting, legal, completion bond financing, gap financing and more. In essence, FBT Film has developed a wide local network to provide all the services a film production might need, while the company itself offers any necessary banking support.
Alsfeld is actively involved in recruiting productions to the state and frequently travels to film financing events in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere to give talks. “If I’m not there representing Louisiana, someone from some other state is going to be in that seat,” says Alsfeld.
Alsfeld’s current expertise is finance (he’s also president and CEO of two other divisions at First Bank and Trust), but in the 1970s he graduated as an English major from Providence College in his home state of Rhode Island. He later got a job at a men’s clothing shop, which instilled in him the success-projecting lessons of “heavy starched shirt and a high-shine shoe.” That sales job led to a sales position in a brokerage, which led him to a brokerage job in New Orleans in 1981. Alsfeld was a “happy bachelor” with no intention of staying here long, but he met his wife-to-be, Cynthia, his first month in town and never left. They now have four children.
One thing he certainly misses about living up north, however, is his beloved sport of ice hockey. So Alsfeld’s passion over the years has been bringing hockey to Louisiana. Twelve years ago, he was instrumental in starting Tulane’s hockey team; he provided financing and a budget, recruited players, coached them, monitored their academic performance and supported the team in countless other ways. After many years, he turned the team over to a coterie of student-athletes, but soon after he launched a hockey team in Baton Rouge for LSU. Again, Alsfeld coached and supported it, stepping down from coaching only last year. He was also involved in the Brass, New Orleans’ mid-level professional hockey team that played from 1997 to 2002 and whose general manager was Alsfeld’s college friend Larry Kish.
So Alsfeld is a big hockey fan, but as someone who works in the film industry, is he a big fan of the movies?
“Absolutely not,” he says. “I couldn’t name three actors outside of my sister-in-law, Patricia Clarkson. I’ve attended probably 12 red carpet premieres in my life, and I’m bored by whole thing.”
What he loves about what he does, however, is helping the region’s economy grow and supporting local talent. “We’ve created opportunities for so many talented Louisiana people to get involved in film at a high level,” he says. “They’re producing, writing, scoring, directing, designing, building. My dream is to keep pushing these great talents up the ranks. They’re becoming masters of their craft and can’t be denied their rightful place in the film industry.”
As Filmmaking Surges, New Orleans Becoming Serious Challenger to L.A.
By Joel Kotkin
For generations New Orleans‘ appeal to artists, musicians and writers did little to dispel the city’s image as a poor, albeit fun-loving, bohemian tourism haven. As was made all too evident by Katrina, the city was plagued by enormous class and racial divisions, corruption and some of the lowest average wages in the country.
Yet recently, the Big Easy and the state of Louisiana have managed to turn the region’s creative energy into something of an economic driver. Aided by generous production incentives, the state has enjoyed among the biggest increases in new film production anywhere in the nation. At a time when production nationally has been down, the number of TV and film productions shot in Louisiana tripled from 33 per year in 2002-2007 to an average of 92 annually in 2008-2010, according to a study by BaxStarr Consulting. Movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford are being made in the state this year.
Of course many states and cities have thrown money at the film industry, hoping to establish themselves as cultural centers. Texas, Georgia, British Columbia, Toronto and Michigan all wagered millions in tax dollars to lure producers away from Hollywood and the industry’s secondary hub of New York. There were 279 movies shot in New York State in 2009 and 2010. For all its gains, Louisiana still trails far behind the Empire State with 95 film productions in that period.
Yet New Orleans and Louisiana possess unique assets which make its challenge far more serious than that of other places. A Detroit, Atlanta or Dallas might be a convenient and cost-efficient place to make a film or television show, but they lack the essential cultural richness that can lure creative people to stay. The Big Easy is attracting that type, plus post-production startups, and animation and videogame outfits, giving a broader foundation to the nascent local entertainment industry.
“This is different,” notes Los Angeles native and longtime Hollywood costumer Wingate Jones, who started Southern Costume Co. last year to cash in on the growth in production in the state. “It’s the combination of the food and the culture that appeals to people. It must have been a lot like what Hollywood was like in the ’20s and ’30s. It’s entrepreneurial and growing like mad.”
Critically, Jones adds, Louisiana’s unique culture comes without the fancy New York or Malibu price tag. This is a place where small roadside cafes serve up bowls of gumbo, crayfish and shrimp that would cost three to five times as much in New York, the Bay Area or Los Angeles. Excellent music — from rap to jazz to blues and gospel — can be found simply by walking into a bar and paying the price of a couple of beers. And then there are housing costs, roughly half as high, adjusted for income, than the big media centers
This mixture of affordability and culture is attracting young people — the raw material of the creative economy — as well as industry veterans like Jones. In 2011, we examined migration patterns of the college-educated and found, to our surprise, thatNew Orleans was the country’s leading brain magnet. New Orleans was growing its educated base, on a per capita basis, at a far faster rate than much-ballyhooed, self-celebrated places like New York or San Francisco. In fact, its most intense competition was coming from other Southern cities such as Raleigh, Austin and Nashville, the last two of which also share a strong, and unique, regional culture.
Another sure sign of the city’s growing appeal has been a torrent of applications to Tulane University, the city’s premier institution of higher education. In 2010 the school received 44,000 applications, more than any other private university in the country. The largest group, more than even those from Louisiana, came from California, with New York and Texas not far behind.
Increasingly, the Big Easy merits comparison not only to the Hollywood of the 1920s but also Greenwich Village of the ’50s, Haight-Ashbury in the ’60s and “grunge” Seattle in the mid-’80s. These, too, were once appealing places that were less expensive, less predictable and more open to cultural outsiders. Now they’re increasingly too pricey and yuppified for creative people bereft of large trust funds.
Ironically, Katrina provided the critical spark for this transformation. It devastated the torpid, corrupt political and business culture that viewed the arts as quaint and fit only as a selling point for tourists. In its place came more business-minded administrations in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge, the state capital. In both places, economic developers seized on motion pictures, television, commercials and videogames as potential growth industries that fit well with the state’s expanding appeal to this generation’s creators.
Those now building entertainment businesses in Louisiana see the state’s business climate and cultural heritage as key assets. David Hague manages the New Orleans studio of Paris-based Gameloft. When it was opening in 2011 with plans to hire 20 in its first year, he says it received a blizzard of 2,500 applications. Hague thinks the city has basic appeal for young creative people.
“Everywhere you look there is something inspiring either architecturally or historically; not to mention a thriving arts community,” he says. “When you combine all these aspects and project them forward you have the foundation to build a critical mass of employers in the industry that will keep the area competitive long term.”
The growth of games companies, special effects and other post-production houses may be even more important for Louisiana’s long-term cultural ascendency than the surge in filming. Electronic Arts, for example, recently opened a $28.2 million testing facilities in Baton Rouge, an hour north of the Big Easy. Moonbot Studios, which got started in 2009 in the northern Louisiana city of Shreveport, just won an Academy Award for its short animated feature “The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” and appears to be on the verge of becoming a powerhouse in all fields of digital animation.
These companies have the potential to give the state a long-term competitive edge. After all, generous tax breaks, like those now offered by Louisiana, can be offered elsewhere; over the past few decades, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and New Mexico have all targeted producers looking to save a buck or two. But while incentives can get film people from Los Angeles, where I live, or in the Bay Area or New York to trudge out to work for a bit in Toronto, Pittsburgh or Dallas, few ever think about settling in these places. In the end, they return to Hollywood, and New York, because a critical mass of writers, actors and technicians have congregated and enjoy being there.
Louisiana has a chance to change that dynamic. The rise of support businesses — post-production, animation houses and costumers – gives it the possibility of building a major new entertainment center. With its history, Louisiana offers more than just money and lavish praise for creators. It boasts a vibrant culture that that is not imitative of other regions or dependent on government; it is intrinsic to the place, and reflects a longstanding tradition that goes back centuries.
The rise of the local film industry has enabled the return of some creative former Louisianans who had been forced to ply their skills elsewhere. New Orleans native Huck Wirtz opened his Bayou FX post-production house in November 2010 after 17 years in the Golden State. “When I left here there was no industry to speak of,” notes Wirtz, a veteran of George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. “We always had artists but they didn’t make much money. Now Louisiana culture is becoming an industry. People see the opportunity here to make this the next big place.”
JULY 19, 2012
REALITY SHOW PRODUCER'S CODE OF CONDUCT
ADHERING TO A PROFESSIONAL CODE OF CONDUCT
- · Producers must adhere to standards of confidential communication.
- · Producers must possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific purpose of fundraising and distribution of funds.
- · Producers must at all times demonstrate respect to others and their money.
- · Producers must at all times maintain ethical business practices.
- · Producers must at all maintain accurate records and documentation of the fundraising process.
- · Producers must avoid engaging in activities that are considered a conflict of interest or unethical.
- · Producers will not mix personal funds with funds designated and received during fundraising events.
- · Producers must advise contributors and investors that to engage in the production of a reality show is risky and that are no guarantee that there will be a return on the investment.
JULY 12, 2012
- Tapes or Discs (depending on camera)
- Basic Lighting
- Access to Computer with editing software
- (Optional Handheld or wireless microphones or boom mic) Most camcorders have built in microphones.
- (Optional monopod or dolly)
JUNE 28, 2012
MAKING A DOLLY FOR LOW-BUDGET FILMS
By Dr. Mel Caudle
The key to producing a low-budget film is to make sure the end product has a high-budget feature film look to it. This simply cannot be accomplished by either hand-holding your camera or keeping your camera mounted to a tripod.
FOLEY SOUND EFFECTS
However, not every producer or editor can purchase these and must rely on old-fashioned ingenuity. To help you, I have included a couple of ways to make some cheap and great sounding Foley sounds.
6. You main characters are going at it in a fight scene and you need the sound effects of them hitting and punching each other. Use a two pound piece of meat, either pork or a beef roast, and hit away with your fist. Just be careful not to injure yourself and take the proper safety precautions.
When I first got into this business, I had zero money for equipment and used whatever I could afford and used my ingenuity to "rig" boom mics, dollies, settings, props, and special effect makeup. I also built a cheap greenscreen for my films and auditions. I was an actor too.
Then, I bought the sticky tacky white stuff that you roll into a ball and hung the poster boards seam to seam. That was it. My green screen was ready and I didn't spend but $10 dollars.
For auditions, you really only need three poster boards and hang them in a corner. Once edited, the creases where you joined them don't show and if you have an editing system software that can handle chroma-key, you can put any background you want behind you in post. That way, if you are auditioning for a professor, you can place yourself in a classroom or if you are an oral surgeon, you can place yourself in the dentist office surgical room. The sky is the limit.
When I didn't need my makeshift green screen anymore for filming, they easily come down off the wall, store right beneath my bed, and stay there until I need them again.
If you want a more permanent greenscreen, you can purchase the lime green paint from the nearest home improvement store in the exact color you need for a greenscreen and paint a wall in your home garage, laundry room, or if you daring, a playroom or bedroom.
If you don't want to paint a wall, you can also purchase cheap plywood,4 X 8 feet and paint it with the greenscreen color paint, and lean it against a wall. When not needed, storage could be an issue unless you have a garage or somewhere else to store it.
One thing I really like about using plywood painted for a greenscreen, when I need to film a shot outdoors I don't have to worry about securing a material greenscreen to keep it from flapping in the wind. This comes in very handy when I want to film someone driving in a car with a greenscreen. The car never moves, I prop the plywood greenscreen up against the car or a couple of production assistants hold it secure, and we shoot our scene. Then in post, we can combine the scenes with the chroma-key tool and have the car traveling anywhere in the world or universe we want them to go.
These are some, but not all, of the innovative approaches I have used to make cheap greenscreens. If you have others, feel free to share them with your fellow members of this blog by adding to the comment section or emailing them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If they are really good, I'll add them here in this article and give you full credit for your idea.
HAPPY GREENSCREEN FILMING!