If there seem to be an inordinate number of car chases and other daring stunts showing up around East Baton Rouge Parish in the months to come, they may be more the work of Hollywood stunt teams rather than homespun mayhem.
The cable television show “Breakout Kings” has selected Baton Rouge as the shooting location for its second season, bringing with it potential long-term, season-after-season economic benefits of a large cast, crew and staff that officials said outlast movies that have come to town.
The show, which airs on the A&E network and premiered in March, shot its first season in Toronto.
“We expect them to really be around us here and we’ll see a lot of action,” Mayor-President Kip Holden said at a news conference Thursday about the project, which a show official made public last month on Twitter.
“Expect a number of stunts, special effects and chase sequences in the months to come,” Holden said.
The show will shoot 10 episodes in the Capital Region, using downtown locations, suburban backdrops and Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola as well as the Celtic Media Centre off Airline Highway near Interstate 12.
The gritty crime drama portrays two U.S. marshals who team up with cons with special skills to track down prison escapees in exchange for getting time knocked off their sentences.
“Breakout Kings” will begin shooting Oct. 19 and will wrap around mid-February, producer Garry Brown said.
“We are thrilled and excited to be shooting ‘Breakout Kings’ here in Baton Rouge, La.,” Brown said. “We certainly look forward to a very long and lasting relationship here.”
The show represents Baton Rouge’s first success into landing a large-scale scripted TV show.
The reality show “Sons of Guns” is based in Baton Rouge and centers on gun-store owners Will Hayden and his daughter, Stephanie, who manufacture and sell custom weapons at Red Jacket Firearms.
“We are so fortunate to have a scripted television series in Baton Rouge,” said Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Raleigh Studios at the Celtic Media Centre.
“And as far as we’re concerned, this is as good as it gets. This is a long-term relationship.
“Big features like ‘Twilight’ are great and the glitz and glamour of having the ‘Twilight’ kids around is wonderful, but they love you and leave you.
“A scripted television series is a long-term relationship that can go on for years,” he said.
“The absolute mark of building a true production hub is finally realized when a television series moves into your market,” said Amy Mitchell-Smith, executive director of the Baton Rouge Film Commission. “That is absolutely a game changer.”
“Breakout Kings” requires about 120 to 140 employees on the set during shooting, Brown said.
This does not include the administrative staff and back-office workers.
“We are a large drama and action television series, so we have a full staff that ranges from our office staff to wardrobe, set-dressing, art department, stunts, effects. All the categories that you could imagine to fill a television show or feature-length film, we have those needs as well,” Brown said.
As an economic incentive, film and television projects in Louisiana are eligible for up to 35 percent transferable tax credits.
“Breakout Kings” will participate in this incentive program, Brown said.
“The incentive rebate program, as everybody knows here, is an incredible situation for the film industry,” Brown said. “And it shows how busy this community is.
“We will absolutely take part in that program,” he added.
The project has not yet applied for the state’s incentive program, so it’s not yet clear what sort of economic impact the television show will have on the region, said Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana Entertainment, a division of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.
Baton Rouge and its surroundings offer the kind of settings the show requires, Brown said.
“What we like so much about the area is not only is there a downtown area, but there are layers of rural and suburban areas, beyond the downtown, which gives us a wide variety of looks,” Brown explained.
“Because these U.S. marshals track these escaped convicts, not only in the general area of New York and on the East Coast but beyond, we’re hoping to go beyond that general area they’ve done it in the past and take it more into the United States.
“And Baton Rouge’s surrounding areas offer us those type of looks and aesthetics,” Brown said.
“We are very excited that this show has chosen Louisiana for season two,” Stelly said.
“Serial television has been a major target for our office because the production cycle tends to be longer, thus employing Louisiana residents for a greater period of time. Additionally, the more successful a series becomes, the more a company will invest in the years to come,” Stelly said.