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Millennium Studio’s Diego Martinez: Cutting Film Tax Credits Would End Our Local Movie-Making Industry

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A proposed 15% cut in Louisiana’s film tax credits has failed in the state legislature. Now, we’re hearing a 20% cut is being discussed.

We’ve gotten reaction from our local film office about this possibility, and Diego Martinez with Millennium Studios is also expressing his displeasure.

“This is a handful of, kind of, rogue legislators who I think are not thinking things through properly,” Martinez says. “They’ve got some knee-jerk reactions to fill in some holes, instead of looking at things calmly and carefully.” He says a cut this size would put an end to our state’s film industry.

In 2012, the film industry brought 14,000 jobs — with general payroll of around 700-million — in to Louisiana. “Just imagine that not being here anymore,” Martinez says. He says Louisiana, and not just the film industry side of things, is so far ahead of the rest of the country. And any negative, to this industry or others, would be detrimental. “We want to show the country that we are film-friendly and we are business-friendly. And changing rules and cutting things arbitrarily like this is not the message we want to show.”

The Film Tax Credit Program was created to build an infrastructure so we could sustain the industry on our own. But a 20% cut would shut down a lot of movie studios. “You’ve got investments in two major studios here, you’ve got a major studio in Baton Rouge and a couple of major studios in New Orleans. We would all end up being empty.”

But something is being done about the issue. Martinez tells us the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association will be hosting a “party” at a Baton Rouge studio next Tuesday. The groups mission is to show state lawmakers what moviemakers do…next Tues, hosting party at a studio in Baton Rouge near state capitol to show lawmakers what film industry officials do, and how it affects the state.

We asked about the possibility of big celebrities, like Gerard Butler — who has spoken very highly of Shreveport-Bossier since his first visit here — would lobby on their behalf. “We shot Olympus [Has Fallen] here last year. It came out this year. It’s still in the top 10…well, it went to number 12, but it’s moved back up to number 8 in the country. It’s gonna break $100-million,” Martinez says. “It was shot all in Shreveport-Bossier, most of the special effects were done here. Then right before the movie comes out, Gerard Butler goes on all the talk shows, and he’s talking about Shreveport and Bossier. How to you monetize that kind of publicity?”

Listen to the full interview with Martinez HERE:

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