New program promotes sustainable entertainment jobs in Louisiana

Halen Doughty
On the set of "Rightful," shot in Donaldsonville, La. The state is continuing to encourage sustainable jobs in the entertainment industry.

New Orleans-based Deep South Studios is set to become Louisiana's first Qualified Entertainment Company under the state's new program that cultivates sustainable jobs in the entertainment business. The innovative program targets careers for content creators in movies, music, and theatrical industries.

The state created the Qualified Entertainment Company incentives to grow the number of permanent jobs in Louisiana. The program rewards job creating investments with incentives to further growth. For jobs paying $45,000 or more annually, the QEC employer is eligible for a 15 percent payroll tax credit. That credit increases to 20 percent for new jobs paying more than $66,000 a year. Similar incentives are available for music-related companies.

In 2016, I tasked our Louisiana Economic Development agency with finding solutions to make our entertainment programs more sustainable, with more statewide impact,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. “The QEC model is an effective new tool for helping companies grow permanent entertainment employment in Louisiana. We’re pleased that Deep South Studios is putting down permanent roots here. They are at the vanguard of companies that will hire the brightest creative minds in the business to produce a greater economic impact for the entertainment industry in our state.”

In this performance-based program, applicants can qualify for up to $1 million in payroll credits each year. Each QEC may be eligible for the credit for five years if they create and maintain a minimum of five new jobs.

Deep South Studios is the first company to participate in the program and plans to complete the first three buildings in early 2018. The studio buildings will total 35,000 square feet of production and support space. The company has plans for a complex of 11 buildings with a total investment of more than $63 million. The development site is located in Algiers on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans.

Our QEC and QMC incentive encourages film production, digital effects, sound recording, live performance and other entertainment employers like Deep South Studios to hire locally, to invest locally and to build a permanent entertainment industry in Louisiana that complements and builds upon our slate of revolving productions,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Through this initiative, we are providing a concrete way for in-state and out-of-state entertainment companies to accelerate their growth through meaningful, long-term investments and partnerships in Louisiana.”

Louisiana's film industry boomed after state lawmakers pioneered film production tax incentives in 2002, attracting many companies to what became known as "Hollywood South." The industry continues to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars every year as feature film and episodic TV producers flock to the Bayou State. Since the dawn of the program, Louisiana has hosted more than $6 billion in film and TV productions, some of which went on to win Emmy and Academy awards.

Two feature-length films have recently set up shop in Ascension Parish. The independent horror film "Rightful" filmed much of the movie in historic Donaldsonville. A murder mystery titled "The Long Shadow" also rolled in D'ville at the Palo Alto Plantation, as well as sites in St. Amant. This new studio could push more producers into Ascension, thanks to its close proximity to both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as its rural and historic locations throughout.

The film industry has created thousands of jobs in the state, and the productions have generated significant spending through purchases at small businesses statewide. The award-winning work that's come out of the Bayou State demonstrates Louisiana's ability to build its cultural brand, as well as the flexibility to portray other locales. That's evidenced by both crews that visited AP. "Rightful" is not even set in Louisiana, but D'ville offered the historic architecture producers were looking for. "The Long Shadow" is set in a fictional Louisiana town because the state's rich history and culture inspired the screenwriters. Both crews included many local hires from Ascension Parish and the surrounding area.

Louisiana continues to offer a first-class film and television incentive, and now we can offer a sustaining incentive to encourage companies to hire permanently as they grow their entertainment enterprise in the state,” Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly said. “We’re excited about Deep South Studios’ commitment to the state, and expect this to be the first of many projects participating in our QEC program.”

For more information about the new QEC, visit

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