Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2015: Top Five Small Cities

batonrouge

1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Home to over $200 million worth of film and television production in 2014, Baton Rouge has reaped the benefits of Louisiana’s generous current tax incentive scheme (30 percent on direct Louisiana production expenditures, and an additional five percent for payroll expenditures—with no annual cap and a $300,000 minimum spend).

Among last year’s projects were the reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, Pitch Perfect 2, The Final Girls (which shot at the local girl scout camp site), and TV’s NCIS: New Orleans. Independent features included the Mark Heyman and Darren Aronofsky-produced Zipper with Patrick Wilson, Lena Headey and Richard Dreyfuss; as well as the lower-budgeted Vincent and Roxxy, Something Blue, Bad Ass III: Bad Ass on the Bayou, and Caged.

Patrick Wilson in Zipper. Photograph by Antonio Calvache, courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Patrick Wilson in Zipper. Photograph by Antonio Calvache, courtesy of the Sundance Institute

The Baton Rouge Film Commission often secures crew members and partners with the production to find local crews, keeping stipend spending down. City-owned properties do not charge location fees—for example, the now vacant Women’s Hospital, owned by the city, has been used for several productions which only had to pay for security and utilities. Among the film commission’s other strengths, said executive director Liza Kelso, is discretion: “Indiewire lamented the fact that zero leaks were given out during production on Fantastic Four, a huge coup given the size and scope of this project.”

Facilities are numerous in Louisiana’s capital: Celtic Media Centre, the largest studio of its kind in the state, features seven sound stages that range from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet. The center also holds a newly opened branch of equipment vendor Manhattan Beach Studios. And there’s Renaissance Park, a four-storey structure that Kelso said is “looking to house independent films and provide stage work,” as it did in 2014 for Pitch Perfect 2. MM

This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2015 issue, available on newsstands on January 30, 2015, and for digital download from iTunes on January 24, 2015. Illustrations and lettering by Nicole Miles.
Read our 2015 Top Five Towns list here. Read the 2014 edition of our Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker list here.
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