The Future of Baton Rouge’s Film and TV Production Industry Looks Bright


The Future of Baton Rouge’s Film and TV Production Industry Looks Bright

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since publication to clarify a quote.

Between the controversy Comedy by Richard Pryor 1982 The toythe critically condemned 2015 reboot of the The Fantastic Four and Perfectthe 2012 hit a capella comedy filmed on the LSU campus, the cinema has been a major boon to Baton Rouge and its community for decades, regardless of the critical reception or cultural impact of films shot here.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world more than two years ago, things have changed in the way movies and TV are made in Baton Rouge – and unsurprisingly, the focus is on streaming.

by Disney national treasure television series represents the cinematic renaissance of Baton Rouge. The series, which is set to debut on Disney+ at an undetermined time, is a continuation and soft reboot of the Nicholas Cage-led franchise. Baton Rouge’s new series reimagines historical mystery films with a young Latinx woman discovering lost Pan American treasure.

Pre-production began in Baton Rouge in November 2021, with filming beginning in early 2022.

“If all goes according to plan, they’ll be here for another year,” says Katie Pryor, executive director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission. “A series is the best script for any city, and a series that portrays the city as itself is extremely beneficial.”

national treasure is the second major production Disney has brought to town, along with another streaming project, Craterusing the sound scenes of Celtic Studios on Airline Highway to create a realistic lunar base for the sci-fi coming-of-age story produced by free guy and The Adam Project director Shawn Levy.

Chris Stelly, Group Executive Director of Entertainment and Digital Media at Louisiana Economic Developmentbelieves that the streaming focus was inevitable.

As it turns out, a pandemic forced movie theaters to close and increased demand for digital content, which Baton Rouge would soon facilitate with a litany of productions that began during the height of the pandemic and continue to this day.

“We are equipped to handle this increase in production,” says Stelly. “We are ready to respond to any news the production has for filming in our state.”

With the potential for long-term production that could take several seasons, as national treasure, the future looks bright for Baton Rouge. New, stable jobs will be created for local filmmakers, as well as technical positions to train the next generation of filmmakers in their own backyards to cultivate the local industry instead of moving to California or New York, says Pryor.

Tax incentives have put Louisiana and Baton Rouge on the map for filmmakers for over 20 years.

Incentives include up to 40% tax credits on eligible expenses, which includes, but is not limited to, local expenses on productions that include the employment of locals in multiple facets of the production. For a production to be eligible for the incentives, Pryor explains, 2% of a production’s budget must go to a state-run program.

“We have what people need to come and film,” Pryor says.

One of the more specific incentives, Pryor says, is an additional 10% credit for using a Louisiana-based writer. She explains that this, along with other programs, helps reinvest in the local community and create an environment where more productions, both independent and big-budget, can be produced in Louisiana, especially in Baton Rouge.

“It’s about reinvesting here to help it grow and help bring forth the next generation of storytellers in Louisiana,” says Pryor.

One of the upcoming productions taking advantage of the incentives in Baton Rouge and the surrounding nine parish area is master gardenera new independent crime thriller from Paul Schrader, the author of Taxi driver. The film will star Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver.

Another element of Baton Rouge’s future as a future filmmaker’s haven is the first-of-its-kind virtual production stage housed in LSU’s Digital Media Center.

“It’s called a game changer because we’re the only public university, to my knowledge, that will train on this technology, so graduates who come from this program will be in high demand not just in Louisiana but around the world,” says Stellaly.

The virtual production stage, using the same technology used to create the streaming galaxy of The Mandalorianas well as the final depiction of Gotham City in The Batmanis configured to eliminate the need for green screen and creates realistic environments that can be captured by the camera.

“Bâton Rouge is really at the epicenter of all this growth and opportunity,” says Stelly. “And it has truly been a joy to invest in education and workforce development projects.”

This is part one of a two-part series exploring the future of filmmaking in Baton Rouge. Stay tuned next week for a behind-the-scenes look at the various Baton Rouge bands making movie magic!

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