Louisiana Film Officials Confuse Fact With Fiction

Louisiana Film Officials Confuse Fact With Fiction

from: FilmWorksLA Blog

Louisiana Film Officials Confuse Fact With Fiction, Integrity of Industry Data Suffers

Despite the size and importance of the film and television industry — and not only for California, but for the entire nation — there’s a woeful lack of consistent and/or accurate data available about it.  Frustration over this lack of information about a vital US industry was summed up years ago by Professor Martha Jones, of the California Research Bureau:

There are no consensus definitions or standard practices for counting beans for this industry. One result is that many studies about the economic importance of the film industry, or, more importantly, about how it is faring over time, show widely different results and perhaps have less credibility.

One of the most difficult things to track is where, when and how much film activity is happening in any given place at any given time.  Groups like FilmL.A. and the Motion Picture Association of America make it their business to keep tabs on and periodically issue reports about these things, and so do many state governments and film commissions throughout the United States.

But every once in awhile, a report comes out that does little more than muddle the math.

For example, earlier this month KSLA Channel 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana ran a segment called: “Hollywood South surpasses Los Angeles in production projects”. In an article accompanying the video, Shreveport Director of Media and Entertainment Arlena Acree said “we [Louisiana ] make more movies now in Louisiana than Los Angeles does.”

“Say what — they do?” you might say.  “That’s incredible — and deeply worrisome.”

But what’s really incredible is just how ridiculous and untrue that claim is by any available yardstick.

Here are the facts, according to the MPAA, about how Louisiana compares to California in recent production activity:

Louisiana
  • 2010: 69 movies and 18 TV series filmed in Louisiana.
  • 2009: 47 movies and 15 TV series filmed in Louisiana.

California

  • 2010: 527 key projects began filming in the state, including 273 films and 254 TV series.
  • 2009: 560 key projects began filming in the state, including 289 films and 271 TV series.

As anyone can plainly see, Louisiana does not even come close to California in terms of total film and television projects.  Los Angeles County, which receives more filming than anywhere else in the state, remains head and shoulders above “Hollywood South” in terms of total projects filmed.

But the misstatements continue.   In another story earlier this week, New Orleans Film Office Head Katie Williams made another perplexing claim with the following:

“L.A., obviously, has a lot of infrastructure development. We have huge sound stage spaces and smaller stage spaces from sitcoms turning out pilots, more than any area of the country [emphasis added].”

Did Williams mean to say that Louisiana has more stage space than anywhere else in the U.S. (not true)?  Or did she intend to claim that Louisiana has more sitcoms in production than anywhere else in the country (also not true)?  Or maybe she was boasting that Louisiana is better at attracting TV pilots than any other state in the nation (even though it’s not)?

We don’t know.   Williams’ comment was so odd, it prompted Film Works to post a note on Facebook looking for help interpreting it.  We got some humorous responses back, which you should read if you have the time.  But we have to ask — where are Louisiana state officials getting their numbers?*

The film and television industry is a California treasure and industry of great cultural and economic importance for the entire nation.  Studying and tracking its health is a matter of great importance that requires attention to detail.  One has to wonder: in Louisiana, do facts matter?

Film Works recognizes Louisiana has done noteworthy job of paying major productions** to go and film there.  However, we’d all be better off if the misstatements would stop.

 

* Published reports show Louisiana is actually putting out fewer pilots than almost every major production state.  Last year, Louisiana hosted just two pilots, whereas New Mexico hosted five, New York hosted 17 and Los Angeles hosted 87!  Data for this year is not yet available.

**In 2010 alone, Louisiana spent $97.6 million to subsidize just four movies. For Battle: Los Angeles, the Louisiana spend was $45.2 million, and the tax credits certified were $13.6 million.  For Green Lantern,  the Louisiana spend is forecast to be $114 million, and the tax credits expected to be issued are $34.2 million.  For Battleship, Louisiana spend is forecast to be $68 million, and the tax credits expected to be issued are $20.4 million.  For Twilight, the Louisiana spend is $98 million, and the tax credits expected to be issued are $29.4 million.

Film Works LA      Like Film This! on Facebook