Our family has been in business in the state of Louisiana since 1996. Beard Brothers Grip and Lighting was started as a rental company by my brother; my wife, Beth Beard; and myself. It is truly a mom-and-pop operation and prime example of a local success story.
We have worked on numerous films, music videos, local and national commercials, and the dreaded political campaigns. The tax credit has been hugely successful in accomplishing the goal of bringing film and video production to our state and good-paying jobs to our family.
Just this morning, my nephew, Justin Beard, reported to work on a television pilot being shot in Baton Rouge. Our sons, Adam and Max Beard, are at work today, as well, on the films being made in our state. Who knew that Hollywood would beat a path to our door and make Louisiana the foremost production capital of the country?
I had to leave my home in New Orleans in 1976 to live in New York and study at Hunter Community College to get an education in filmmaking. Now, I am teaching classes to help train a new generation of local workers for a growing industry that should have just as bright a future as the present one is for over 30,000 people employed in this industry.
Could the state now be considered as an investor that shares in the profits of work that is successful?
The credit goes to any project that has budgets of $300,000. Some of these are awful reality series such as the one about former Gov. Edwin Edwards. Some are hugely successful like “Duck Dynasty,” “True Blood,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Swamp People” and who knows what other series, such as “Treme.” These films can return to investors much more than the initial budgets to produce. Can the state share in this return?
A limit to the credit offered each year could also be a sane solution to the problem. But ending it or modifying it drastically is a short-sighted solution and would wreck the future of this industry in our state.
Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and other states are designing programs modeled on ours. Production is a movable feast and goes where the best deals are. The Hollywood Trucks company is in talks with the Chinese about opening a studio there. More American jobs shipped overseas? These are good-paying jobs, and at this time, there are studios such as Second Line Stages in New Orleans and Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge that are the example to the success of this program.
The Beard family name is on many of the films listed on IMDb. Part of the legacy of a great body of art and a kind of construction work that is so worthy of support. Guess what? We all live in Louisiana.