La. leads nation in number of feature films, report says

Louisiana led the nation last year in feature-film production, according to a 108-film survey by a Los Angeles nonprofit think tank studying the impact of California’s loss of such projects.

Eighteen of those live-action movies, with spending estimated at $750 million, were filmed primarily in Louisiana, according to FilmL.A. Inc.

California still leads the nation in animated feature production and still boasts the most dollars.

“It is a good day,” said Liza Kelso, executive director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission. “Just seeing Louisiana is No. 1 in feature film locations is a huge, huge feather in our caps.”

“I guess we (in Louisiana) need to stop saying ‘We’re No. 3,’ ” said Patrick Mulhearn, executive director of Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge.

Columbia’s sci-fi picture “Battle: Los Angeles” was filmed at Celtic in 2011 with a budget of $100 million, according to FilmL.A.’s report, released Thursday.

For years, Los Angeles has led the nation in film production, followed by New York, with Louisiana trailing at third.

FilmL.A. noted Louisiana, other states and Canada are luring film producers with film tax credits.

“Considering California’s vast filmmaking talent, the state should be exporting films for global audiences, not jobs to global competitors,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said in the nonprofit’s report.

“State policymakers have the opportunity to make a difference this year by expanding California’s film and television tax credit,” Audley added.

While Louisiana led the 108-film survey with 18 movies produced in 2013, Canada and California tied for second at 15.

California captured the most film spending, with $1 billion, FilmL.A. reported.

Canada benefited from $887 million in film spending. The United Kingdom received another $843 million of the motion picture pie. Louisiana’s $750 million was fourth.

“They keep talking about the quantity of films in Louisiana. But the Academy Awards showed there is quality, too,” Mulhearn said.

Louisiana was responsible for some notable gold at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Best film honors went to “12 Years a Slave,” filmed at Felicity Plantation in Vacherie, St. Joseph Plantation and several locations in New Orleans.

Lupita Nyong’o received the best supporting actress award for her role as a slave in “12 Years.”

New Orleans makeup artist Robin Mathews shared the best makeup and hairstyling Oscar with Adruitha Lee for their work in “Dallas Buyers Club,” also filmed in Louisiana.

And the best actor and best supporting actor Oscars went to Matthew McConaughey and Bossier City native Jared Leto for their roles in “Dallas Buyers.”

“There is just a creative atmosphere that we have in Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” Kelso said. “It’s great to see our (film) crews growing. It’s amazing.”

Kelso credited East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden for successfully pushing for creation of the Baton Rouge Film Commission seven years ago.

At Celtic Studios, Mulhearn said California remains a formidable film competitor.

“No one is entitled to the film industry,” Mulhearn said. “You have to compete for it.”

Mulhearn said the Academy Awards and the emergence of Louisiana as a top setting for films “is a credit to the state, through the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, for building such a good incentives program that works.”

Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana’s Office of Entertainment Industry Development, said the California survey is “further validation that Louisiana is succeeding in building a self-sustaining motion picture industry that, in just a little over a decade, has become a national and global leader.”

Stelly said a third-party analysis of the state’s film tax incentive program last year revealed it “leveraged more than $1.03 billion in new business sales in the 2012 calendar year alone, along with more than $717 million in additional household earnings, and certified expenditures that supported more than 14,000 jobs.”