Local film industry makes pitch for Baton Rouge at L.A. luncheon

    Executives from Celtic Studio, the Baton Rouge Film Commission and Louisiana Economic Development spent last weekend in Los Angeles hosting a luncheon for nearly 50 film industry executives that aimed to recruit them to make more movies and TV shows in Baton Rouge.

    Unlike seasonal trade shows that local entertainment industry folks attend every year in southern California with thousands of others, the recent event was a private affair hosted by the Baton Rouge Film Commission that targeted producers looking for a location to film.

    So how’d it go?

    Well, says Aaron Bayham, director of studio operations at Celtic, who didn’t land any deals for the studio while in California but is optimistic that he helped make a good case to producers for coming to the Capital Region.

    “A lot of people who haven’t been to Baton Rouge are not as familiar with it as they are with New Orleans,” Bayham says. “So it’s important to get them to understand the way Baton Rouge looks versus New Orleans. Baton Rouge can fill in for a lot of different looks.”

    Louisiana is still trying to regain much of the business it lost after 2015, when the state Legislature clamped down on what had been the most generous entertainment industry incentives in the country.

    Under Gov. John Bel Edwards, the state has reinstated some of the tax credits, but the program is capped at a lower level than in the past. In the meantime, other states—like Georgia—have implemented their own generous programs to attract movie producers.

    Though New Orleans is once again busy and attracting film crews, Baton Rouge and other locations in the state are less attractive, primarily because they’re not as well known.

    Events like the recent luncheon helped sell Baton Rouge, which, due to Celtic, has some 100,000 square feet of sound stage space.

    “Everybody we spoke to said stage space is hard to come by right now because so many companies are producing content now, especially for TV shows,” Bayham says. “So, as long as we’re getting in front of the right people and letting them understand we have the right infrastructure and the right crew we’re able to make a good case for Baton Rouge.”

    At the moment, Celtic’s sound stage space is booked to Paramount TV, which is halfway through filming a 10-episode series called Paradise Lost. 

    Katie Pryor of the Baton Rouge Film Commission says the build out is “absolutely fantastic” and that production is going well.

    Film crews have also been spotted shooting episodes in Clinton and St. Francisville. Production is expected to wrap in mid-September.

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