The state House's Ways and Means Committee met today to discuss 20 or so bills about the entertainment industry. A little less than half of the 5.5-hr. meeting was spend on HB862, which would increase the motion picture production credits from 25 to 30 percent and eliminate the sunset provision. The committee heard a bunch of testimony, and you can read a piece by bureau reporter Mike Hasten here (good stuff).
All of the bills have essentially been tabled for tweaking, and it will be a few weeks before we know what's what. If you watched the hearing online, you probably noticed that the discussion about them was pretty robust and pointed.
I just got off the horn with producer Lampton Enochs, who's driving back home from Baton Rouge with business partner Alissa Kantrow. (They cofounded Louisiana Production Consultants, which has lured umpteen projects to The Shreve.)
"Most of the time was spent HB 862. That's the bill everybody is concentrating on," Enochs said.
He's cautiously optimistic about the reception he and others received from state reps. The committee appears to be pretty proactive about recapturing the business that's been lost in recent months to states like Georgia. At this point, though, it's all about finding the money to pay for the incentives. The state's in the middle of a big budget crisis, Gov. Bobby Jindal favors keeping the production incentive at 25 percent, but there is a lot of pressure on lawmakers to push it higher.
"Mostly the legislators … are supportive," Enochs added. "They understand that we need this or the industry is in danger of going away."
I also caught up with Arlena Acree, the City of Shreveport's film industry liaison. She noted a room full of Teamsters, IATSE members, vendors, extras and actors, and was very please by the turnout. She also said Studio Operations president Diego Martinez (Nu Image/Millennium), producer Carsten Lorenz, and line producer Todd Lewis showed and piped up (all have connections to The Shreve), and IATSE's Mike McHugh made a solid pitch.
Rick Seaton, assistant to Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, chimed in to say the city supports HB862.
"I think it went really well," Acree said. "We had a lot of good discussion" and the reps who attended asked some good questions.
The Shreveport contingent will likely return to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, when a Senate committee will have its hearing at 3 p.m.
If you have something to add to this discussion, please leave a comment or call me at 318.459.3256.