NCIS: NEW ORLEANS

The state wants to encourage the production of more scripted TV shows, such as “NCIS: New Orleans,” because they spend more time working in Louisiana, spend more resources and lead to more stable jobs. Stars of the show include Lucas Black, left, as Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, CCH Pounder as Dr. Loretta Wade and Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY SKIP BOLEN / CBS

Recent changes to the state’s entertainment tax credit program have led to a resurgence in movie and TV filming in Louisiana, with 17 productions going on across the state during March, more than triple the number that were being filmed two years ago.

“Scripted TV production is at an all-time high,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday. “There were nine TV shows and two pilots being filmed this month.”

Edwards was the keynote speaker at the first Louisiana Entertainment Summit, a day-long event sponsored by Louisiana Economic Development. The summit, which was held at L’Auberge Casino Baton Rouge, allowed people in the movie, music, digital and performing arts industry a chance to network and get information about the state’s incentive programs. More than 200 people attended the conference.

Don Pierson, LED secretary, said the state wants to encourage the production of more scripted TV shows, such as “NCIS: New Orleans," “Queen Sugar” and “Claws,” because they spend more time working in Louisiana, spend more resources and lead to more stable jobs.

Making the entertainment industry more financially stable, with an economic impact on a greater area than just New Orleans and with a focus on long-term employment was the goal of the revision to the entertainment tax credit program. The bill, which was passed by the Legislature in 2017, gives extra credits for filming outside of the Crescent City and limits the amount of credits the state can offer in a year, a move that eliminates backlog. It also gives extra incentives for productions written by Louisiana residents and gives payroll incentives to companies that invest in jobs in Louisiana.

Jerry Brandt of CBS Studios, who is responsible for the financial reporting on more than 80 television productions worldwide, said his company has spent more than $300 million in Louisiana over the past four years on productions, including “NICS: New Orleans.” Of that spending, about half has been for crew wages. “These people are employed in high paying, long-term jobs.”

The film industry spent $893 million on productions shot in Louisiana during 2016. That led to $2.4 billion in spending across the state. Edwards said he’s heard anecdotal evidence that 2017 was a better year for the industry, and that 2018 is doing better than last year’s pace.

So far this year, two high-profile productions have been filming around Baton Rouge: “Greyhound,” a World War II drama starring Tom Hanks, and “The Highwaymen," which stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson as the Texas Rangers who captured the notorious bank robbing duo of Bonnie and Clyde.

And on Monday, Marvel Studios announced that principal photography had started on “Captain Marvel," the latest in its series of blockbuster comic book movies. The studio said parts of “Captain Marvel," which stars Oscar-winner Brie Larson along with Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson, will be filmed in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The film is set for release in March 2019. 

Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana Entertainment, said he couldn’t comment on “Captain Marvel” since the studio hadn’t submitted any paperwork yet to film in Louisiana.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.