[PATRICK MULHEARN, 34, Director of studio operations, Celtic Media Centre]
By Jeff Roedel
Right now at least five Hollywood producers are jockeying for time and space
at Celtic Media Centre. That’s how many holds Michael O’Connor’s Airline
Highway film facility has so far for 2010. The man aiming to deliver those
pictures is Patrick Mulhearn, the 34-year-old Natchez native who until last
fall helped shepherd Louisiana’s lucrative tax credits
program for movie production as assistant director of film and television
for Louisiana Economic Development. Mulhearn’s
experience with the state gives him a tangible edge when reassuring
California-based studios and investors navigating Louisiana’s film
How he plays that edge will make or break Baton Rouge’s year in movies, but
with his help Celtic is now going a step further. After working with Battle:
Los Angeles for the last several months and planning for the HBO hit True
Blood to return this spring, Mulhearn is telling each Hollywood studio using
Celtic that he will find back-end buyers for the tax credits they earn—some
totaling tens of millions of dollars.
Mulhearn took the idea to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber years ago, but it
didn’t get traction. As the new director of studio operations at Celtic, he
now has the chance to leverage it.
“When you have giant productions in Louisiana, those around $100 million,
suddenly tax credits for $30 million are harder to move,” Mulhearn says.
With Celtic’s expanding facilities—including a sound stage with a 70-foot
ceiling—attracting films of a certain epic scale, catering to the big-budget
crowd is simply following the golden rule of marketing: know your audience.
“What the Legislature did this past year, making the incentives permanent
and 30%, was so key, and that’s a big reason why I left the safety of
government,” Mulhearn says. “Honestly, without that, it could have all blown
over. We’d be struggling. Instead, it’s like, ‘game over.’ Every production
that can possibly shoot outside of California is budgeting for Louisiana.”