Though the criminal justice overhaul took most of the headlines in this year's Louisiana legislative session, there were other laws passed that are making an impact in the state.

One of those involves changes to the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit.  The adjustments, which were signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards, reinstituted incentives that are designed to invigorate the moribund Louisiana film industry in Louisiana.

Here are some of the major facets of the law that went into effect on July 1st:

  • Provides up to a 40% tax credit for films produced in the state.  This includes a 25% base credit with a 10% increase for productions of screenplays that were written in Louisiana, and an additional 5% increase if films are produced outside of the New Orleans Metro Statistical Area.
  • To qualify, filmmakers must spend a minimum of $50,000 in-state for Louisiana screenplay productions.
  • For all other eligible productions, the in-state expenditures must be a minimum of $300,000.
  • The maximum of credits that the state can issue per fiscal year is $150 million.
  • The cap on credits that can be claimed in a fiscal year is $180 million.
  • Tax credits may be used to offset personal or corporate income tax liability in Louisiana.

Critics say that the program is nothing more than government waste, while proponents say that it brings thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in spending to the state.

Whatever one's stance on the issue, there's no doubt that filmmakers will take advantage of the changes.  As case in point, pre-production started this week on a new movie that will star two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks.  Filming is expected to begin early next year in Baton Rouge on a World War II drama titled "Greyhound".  Hanks adapted the script from the C.S. Forester novel "The Good Shepherd" which was published in 1955.  Hanks will star as the commander of the Navy destroyer, USS Greyhound, which in the novel was charged with escorting a military convoy.

Filming is expected to take place aboard the U-S-S Kidd on the Mississippi River and at other Baton Rouge locations next March.

In an interview with the Louisiana Radio Network Don Pierson from the Louisiana Economic Development office said the production will employ over 250 persons in Baton Rouge.  He also said he expects the tax credit to spur film making in Lafayette and Shreveport, as well.