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Are smaller film commissions the way ahead for the film industry?

Ascension Louisiana has rarely been out of the spotlight in recent months as a thriving production hub for film and TV. 

Indeed, at KFTV we have reported on several major feature films heading to the Bayou State, including Geostorm and Rambo: Final Blood. It is widely acknowledged that the hefty tax credits are a big draw, with a rebate on offer of up to 30%. 

With state legislators preparing to consider these incentives in a matter of months, a new, regional film commission has been created in the drive to maintain the flow of incoming productions. 

According to daily newspaper The Advocate, the Ascension Parish Council last week established a new advisory Film Commission, along with a new structure of permitting and fees. This will cover movies filmed in the parish, which falls between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both burgeoning centres for film and TV production. 

Permit applications, which will be handled by parish employees, will cost $150, with the parish charging between $200 and $600 in daily impact fees. There will also be location fees and charges for road closures and a statutory $1m in insurance coverage.

It is not uncommon to have several commissions within one state – Louisiana itself already has several - and the aim is to ease the process for filmmakers wishing to shoot in a specific location. 

“In the past, movie industry officials have had to gain approval through many steps and procedures with different factions. This commission will consolidate those efforts and make it easier for a company to choose this parish”, said parish president Tommy Martinez. 

Certainly for visiting producers, there is nothing quite like local knowledge, as executive director of Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge Patrick Mulhearn was quoted as saying: “You’ve got to have someone that can kind of guide them around and help them with the logistics of shooting in Ascension.”

The advent of regional film commissions can only be a good thing: to consolidate and build on existing interest from filmmakers while streamlining seemingly complex procedures is of benefit to the whole local economy and raises the profile of a specific area. 

As Martinez put it: “… It was something we should have done years ago. It may become something that’s very lucrative here.”