Movie industry has $90 million impact on BR in 2013

The movie and TV industry has pumped $90 million into the Capital Region economy so far this year and more projects will be announced this year, the acting head of the Baton Rouge Film Commission said Tuesday.

“That’s for now,” said Liza Kelso, head of the film commission, at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s monthly investor luncheon. Kelso said four independent films will be shot around Baton Rouge this fall. Those movies will spend a combined total of $35 million in the area.

Mayor-President Kip Holden is expected to announce in November that a $100 million movie will begin filming in Baton Rouge in early 2014.

While local movie industry officials are tight-lipped about the mystery project because the movie studio hasn’t confirmed details yet, a casting call for actors and extras in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” movie says it will be shot in and around Baton Rouge. “Fantastic Four,” based on the long-running Marvel comic book about a team of superheroes, is set for release March 6, 2015.

Through the first eight months of the year, 19 feature films have been shot around Baton Rouge, including “Search Party,” a comedy from the writer of “Old School” and “The Hangover II,” which will be released in September 2014; “Shreveport,” which was written and directed by Ryan Phillippe; and “Bonnie and Clyde,” a four-hour TV movie that will air on Lifetime, the History Channel and A&E later this year.

The filming activity is benefiting local small businesses. Vivid Ink Graphics, which makes temporary on-location signs for the movie industry, has seen $100,000 in business come in this year, Kelso said, thanks to local productions such as “Left Behind,” the Nicolas Cage-starring movie currently being filmed in Baton Rouge; “The Maze Runner,” which was shot around Baton Rouge this spring, and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which was filmed in New Orleans earlier this year.

“There’s a lot of cross-pollination going on with our vendors,” Kelso said.

Right now, about 100 to 150 people in Baton Rouge work on local movie crews. But plans are underway to increase the number of workers.

Beginning in 2014, the New Orleans Video Access Center will offer intensive training to help people get a start in the movie industry. NOVAC has offered similar classes in the Crescent City since 2007.

Details of the classes are still being worked out, but Kelso said there will be lessons in a range of movie industry jobs, from camera operators to production accountants to hair and makeup artists. Plans are for the local movie industry unions to give students work permits for the days they spend in class, a move that will help them find employment.

“It’s one thing to do the classes, but you’ve got to get them the jobs afterward,” Kelso said.