Local film industry workers feel abandoned by lawmakers as work dwindles

Written by: Rob Masson, Reporter


People in the Louisiana film industry say work has dwindled to a fraction of what it used to be.

New limits on the production tax credit have created uncertainty, which they say is driving away producers and many of their industry friends.

Stephen LeBlanc is a Louisiana bred UNO graduate who’s made a living as a location manager for the film industry.

“For the past 10 years, it was great,” he said.

Shedrick Roy is also a Louisiana born, Southern University Grad who has made a living as a driver for movies for the past 10 years.

“The $180 million cap has pushed the business to Georgia and California,” he said.

They are part of a growing legion of film industry workers who are having a tough time. Studios and costume shops are now shutting down as the number of local productions dwindle.

“Last year, I could have told you any different neighborhood go to into … we had 12 to 20 films going at once.  400 people each,” Leblanc said. “Now there may be two or three in town if you’re lucky.”

Others blame uncertainty in the way the tax credits are awarded after the fact.

“We are in a drought,” Roy said. “It hasn’t been this bad since 2004, before Katrina.”

Those who work in the film industry say they are confused. They say their industry is clean and they don’t understand why other tax credits aren’t being scrutinized.

“It feels unfair,” Leblanc said. “We are only 1 percent of the tax incentives given out.”

“I wish the legislature would be fair,” Roy said. “Be fair to this region.”

Both say they are working a mere fraction of what they worked just two years ago.
“We have 200 drivers in this region,” Roy said. “And a lot of them aren’t working.”

“I just finished up ‘Free State of Jones’ and have had to scrimp pennies since last July,” Leblanc said. “My entire life, I screamed Louisiana pride, but now Louisiana is not backing us.”

And in a state dealing with a budget shortfall, there doesn’t appear to be any new bills filed to return the film industry to what it once was.


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