Tax Credits: What Louisiana Thinks

In a recent state omnibus survey conducted by the Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University (PPRL) for the Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (LFEA), we discover no one cares about tax credits.

Unless Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock show up and promote the film and television investor tax credit programs of Louisiana, the only parties who will care are the producers looking to utilize the programs, the crew talent, on-camera talent and businesses which provide products and services to the industry.  Let us not forget the agitators, the destructionists, who will at all costs attempt to kill-off these job creating programs for no other reason than to be, well, destructionists.

The essential problem Hollywood South has is a branding issue.  Some say the word ‘Hollywood’ itself connotes sleazy business dealings.  Fair enough, goes with the territory.  Whether or not the industry likes it, after twelve years of these tax credit programs, the moniker Hollywood South is here to stay.

The Phone Calls Tell the Story

The research the PPRL conducted is quite telling in what the mainstream media is reporting as a boondoggle, and Louisiana has had its share of boondoggles, is really not a boondoggle.  It is not even a doggle.  But, it is a boon to the economy.

“Approximately 84% of the public agrees that jobs in the film industry are good for the state’s economy.”
– PPRL Survey Results

Are you aware that in 2013 Louisiana was the number one production state for major motion pictures?

Partly due to the attacks by the mainstream media in Louisiana and the destructionists, the ‘no’ answers are telling.  Our industry has to do a better job of relaying the impact we are having on the Louisiana economy.

We need to push all those awards shows giving trophies to Louisiana-based productions.  You can’t even drive down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles without being bombarded by billboards yelling about some new TV show.

Are you aware that in 2013 Louisiana was the number one production state for major motion pictures?
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

“A similarly large share (88%) agree that movies produced in the state generate tourism.”
– PPRL Survey Results

Are you, or anyone you know employed by the film industry in Louisiana?

Not really sure how telling this question is presenting itself.  Either way you look at this issue, the answer ‘yes’ shows a good indicator of growth.

Are you, or anyone you know employed by the film industry in Louisiana?
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “The jobs movie productions create are good for Louisiana’s economy.”

This is an important point to consider.  Louisiana understands what a job-creating industry brings to the state.

The jobs movie productions create are good for Louisiana's economy
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Movies produced in Louisiana bring attention to the state and help generate tourism.”

Louisiana is a world class tourist destination by far.  The hit TV shows and feature films most certainly bring tourists here from all over the globe, maybe not the overall reason, but rather a good reason none the less.  Good to see Louisiana understands this basic premise.

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Movies produced in Louisiana bring attention to the state and help generate tourism."
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “The film industry benefits the economy of the state of Louisiana.”

Four out of five people surveyed completely understand the bottom line with this industry is – the economy.  No other industry in the history of Louisiana has grown at such a rate and benefitted so many businesses.  People are moving here to a better quality of life while bringing their skill sets to the industry and that is a good thing.

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The film industry benefits the economy of the state of Louisiana."
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

What is your overall opinion of the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax Credit Program?

Here is where our industry has a serious issue.  You could flip a coin and either get someone who thinks positively about the programs, or negatively.  Going back to the mainstream media and newspapers, and let’s not forget the destructionists, the damage being done by them is specious at best.  But, it is damage.  The media glorify the criminals, who by the way have done serious federal jail time, because that is what sells their papers.  Or, gets eyeballs on their websites.

The investor tax credit programs do not create criminals.  These people were criminals to begin with.  If it wasn’t these programs, it could well be another line of work.

In the end, this attack hurts a multi-billion dollar industry and thousands upon thousands of jobs.  How would you like to sell your house, move to Louisiana to start a good chapter in your life, to only be told the programs are gone and there is no work for you?  You would have no other choice but to either change careers, which won’t happen in Louisiana, or move to another territory to feed your family.

What is your overall opinion of the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax Credit Program?
Data: State Omnibus Survey by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University for Louisiana Film Entertainment Association (MOE +/- 3.1%)

“More Louisiana residents (48%) have a positive opinion of the film tax credit program than have a negative view (11%). However, significant shares report they have neither a negative nor positive view (16%) or that they do not know (25%).”
– PPRL Survey Results

Cut to the Chase

While I applaud the LFEA for commissioning this survey – we as an industry – have the ultimate responsibility to promote our industry.  That starts with your state representatives, even in the non-fiscal legislative years, as well as being promoters to the general public.  Do not rely on someone else to do it for you.

Our state needs to increase the budget to the Louisiana Entertainment office this legislative session.  The taxpayer demands accountability for their tax dollars and how they are spent.  Yes, education and medical needs in our state need to be addressed, but this is not an either-or issue.  We can do both.

If you still are not sold, then take a read on a previous article Tax Credits: Realities of Motion Picture Investor Programs in Louisiana and you will see how a whole industry could be destroy and it would not put a dent into the current state’s fiscal problems.

Vote for jobs.  Good jobs.

Submitted for your consideration.
Stanley B. Gill
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
The HollywoodSouth Blog

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