By Xerxes A.
Published: Friday, December 4, 2009
The inside of Stage 5, the Rebecca Building, in the Celtic Media Group
compound has been transformed into the streets of LA for the filming of the
new movie Battle L.A. being filmed here in Baton Rouge.
Gunfire and mushroom clouds visible just off Airline Highway have confused
passing drivers for more than a month now.
Patrick Mulhearn said these choreographed explosions are a sign of economic
growth for his studio and the film industry in the state.
Mulhearn is the director of studio operations for Raleigh Studios Baton
Rouge at the Celtic Media Center, which is hosting the filming of “Battle:
“Battle: Los Angeles” is a post-apocalyptic war movie following a group of
marines on their mission to extract civilians from Santa Monica, said Tommy
Harper, Unit Production Manager in charge of the budget, staffing and
managing the daily administration of the film.
The movie is one of about 21 projects currently filming in Louisiana and one
of three projects filming in Baton Rouge, said Chris Stelly, director of
film and television for the Office of Entertainment Industry within
Louisiana Economic Development.
Stelly said the total number of films for the state is going to be lower
than last year, which saw about 80 productions.
“We were competing with the actors strike earlier this year, the downturn of
the economy and reaffirming the commitment to the tax credits because they
were scheduled to scale back at the beginning of next year,” Stelly said.
Stelly explained this summer the legislature reaffirmed the state’s
commitment to the film industry by increasing tax credits for film by 5
percent and making the incentives indefinite.
The tax credits now stand at 30 percent with an additional 5 percent for
hiring Louisiana labor.
“We have seen a steady increase in activity since the end of the session,
and quite honestly, it has been going strong ever since,” Stelly said. “We
are looking to end the year strong, but we are looking at a 2010 that is
going to be record-breaking.”
Stelly said the interest in filming in the state points to a record-breaking
The Warner Brothers film “The Green Lantern” is the largest-budget film
scheduled to shoot in Louisiana in 2010 so far.
Just off Airline Highway is the 23-acre Celtic Media Complex, which is
currently the heart of film in Baton Rouge and the largest film studio in
The media center — originally meant to be Master P’s production studio —
boasts five studio stages ranging up to 30,000-square feet that can provide
a quiet, climate-controlled set for films like “Battle: Los Angeles” to
build massive filming sets to shoot on.
Harper said the combination of tax incentives, the state’s film commission
and the quality of facilities in the state made Louisiana more attractive
than Georgia and New Mexico when “Battle: Los Angeles” was scouting filming
“The state has great prospects,” Harper said. “You have the tax incentives
that are strong here, and each year the crews are becoming deeper and
deeper. You can get equipment here, you can get grip and lighting, you can
get trailers, you can get everything you need here. So you guys are on the
Louisiana was boasting about $10 million in film production per year before
the inception of the tax incentive program in 2002 for films, Mulhearn said.
Since then, the film industry has seen more than $2 billion in project
investment with about $1.5 billion being left in the state, Stelly said.
“To be honest, had the legislature not upped it and made it permanent, there
is a good chance this place would be sitting empty right now,” Mulhearn
said. “But now there is a sense of permanency, and we are seeing more and
more people uprooting themselves from California and moving here.”