Wednesday, January 28, 2009

True Blood filming in Baton Rouge : HBO and others jump on La. bandwagon

By Joshua Davidson in Tiger Weekly

Fresh off of a record setting year in which Louisiana saw its highest movie payout to date with Brad Pitt’s, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the state has a promising year ahead in 2009.

Louisiana’s tax incentives are continuing to entice new film ventures to the state with new projects set to film in the coming months around the region including sites around Baton Rouge.

Since the Louisiana Film incentive and Tax Credit Program began in 2002, the state has shown numbers second only to California, thus earning the nickname “Hollywood South.” Currently, the program gives producers a 25 percent tax credit on shooting films in Louisiana as well as an additional 10 percent credit on all payroll used on Louisiana residents in connection with the production.

HBO is currently in the Baton Rouge area working on pre-production efforts for the second season of its hit series, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin. Filming is slated to begin in February. Along with True Blood, HBO is also set to start filming the pilot for a new series, titled Treme, starting March 9, and is still casting roles that call for all ages, ethnicities and types.

The tax incentives have encouraged producers to take a second look at the many historic locations in Louisiana including swamps, plantations and, of course, the famous French Quarter. One producer was especially eager to take advantage of the locations surrounding a Louisiana swamp for the filming of the upcoming bayou thriller, Beard’s Creek.

“The tax incentives in Louisiana are great,” said Beard Creek producer, Ilan Arboleda. “The great locations are an added bonus. It makes choosing Louisiana a no-brainer when it comes to choosing a place to film.”

The movies aren’t the only player finding financial success in Louisiana. The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that major studios bring about $225,000 per day to their shooting locations, which in turn, can become very lucrative to all parties involved in the project both directly and indirectly.

Some notable stars set to make appearances in Louisiana films this year include Val Kilmer, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Sharon Stone, Megan Good and John Cena, among others.

“I’m excited to see so many opportunities in movies here,” says university student Jessica Holman. “I’m trying to get a job on the crew with an upcoming independent movie called, ‘The Chameleon,’ here in Baton Rouge.”

The window for these endeavors could be closing up quick with roughly 40 other states offering similar incentives and subsidies that Louisiana offers according to the Incentives Office, a consulting firm located in California. One state that is gaining ground on Louisiana rather quickly is New Mexico, which has a similar 25 percent tax credit.

Regardless of what happens with the other states vying for Louisiana’s position as one of the premier destinations for filming, this year is sure to be a great success for the state. Much of the films slated for 2009 are still looking for both cast and crew and could make for a great experience for one looking to get into the business, so be sure to keep an eye out for what’s going on in the coming months.

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