Patrick Mulhearn, the executive director of Celtic Studios, is stepping down as head of the largest design-built studio in the Gulf South.
Mulhearn, who made his intentions known in a post on his Facebook page, said in an interview Tuesday he will leave his job as executive director effective June 30 to pursue other opportunities.
“I couldn’t see myself at 50 years old leasing stage and office space,” said Mulhearn, 41. He’s reached a “fork in the road” and wants to figure out what he will do next.
That could be getting involved in public policy or politics. Earlier this year, Mulhearn mused on Twitter about running for the seat held by former Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville.
Or it could involve getting involved in producing movies instead of running a production studio. “I hope to bring some projects here, assuming I stick with the film industry,” Mulhearn said. “I’m at a point where I want to make a bigger difference.”
Mulhearn has been at Celtic since September 2009, when he was hired as director of studio operations by Raleigh Studios, which managed the facility at the time. Before that, he spent three years with Louisiana Economic Development in its film and television division.
During his time at Celtic, the facility took off in popularity, as big-budget movies such as the final two “Twilight” films, the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie “Oblivion," “Battleship” and “Fantastic Four” were shot there. Celtic’s 40-acre facility near Airline Highway and Interstate 12, coupled with Louisiana’s generous incentives for film production, attracted those movies to the city. In 2014, Raleigh split and Celtic took over as sole operator of the studio.
One of the biggest honors was when MovieMaker, a film industry publication, rated Baton Rouge as the best small city to live and work in as a movie maker in 2015. Mulhearn said that meant a lot to him because it showed the film industry was creating jobs in the city.
“I think back when we landed ‘Battleship,’ the same producers followed up with filming ‘Oblivion’ here,” Mulhearn said. “They told me they could have gone anywhere to shoot the movie, but they chose to come back to Baton Rouge because they had such a great experience.”
The head of Louisiana's largest film and television production studio says he hopes to see t…
But in mid-2015, the Legislature and former Gov. Bobby Jindal put a cap on what Louisiana could spend on movie tax credits for the next three years. While film and TV productions could qualify for an unlimited amount of credits, they would be capped at $180 million a year. Movie officials said that caused instability, as producers worried that the state would take too long to pay them for qualified credits.
Rihanna fought off aliens in “Battleship” at Celtic Studios’ Stage 6 in Baton Rouge.Tom Crui…
At the same time, states such as Georgia, California and New York sweetened their incentive programs. Also, a weak Canadian dollar made it cheaper to shoot in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, cities that had all been hubs for film production.
State Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, has filed a bill for the upcoming Legislative session that will reform the movie tax credit program. It will provide stability to the industry by setting a $165 million annual cap on credits awarded by LED, make it more attractive to bring TV productions to Louisiana and give an additional 5 percent credit for movies shooting outside of New Orleans. These steps will allow the movie industry to expand across the state “from Bossier to Bunkie," Mulhearn said.