If you build it, they will come. If you give them a tax incentive, they'll get here even faster. That seems to be the motto for Louisiana when it comes to the film industry. Although some debate lingers regarding the benefit to the state for the credits, what is undeniable is Louisiana's ranking as one of the top destinations for the film industry.
"We're looking at 2010 being our best year on record," Chris Stelly, Louisiana Office Entertainment Industries Development, summarized. "We'll probably have close to, if not over 100 motion pictures that wrapped in 2010 alone. We're looking at roughly 1.5 billion dollars alone in total production activity."
The construction of production houses throughout the state, combined with the most generous tax incentive program in the nation has propelled Louisiana to the top of new industry growth at a time of great economic uncertainty. All of that new money being brought in is bringing with it new jobs.
"There's a lot happening and we're in a great point in history where Louisiana is just going to keep growing," Stelly added.
The newest addition to the Louisiana entertainment industry infrastructure is post-production work.
"Cutting Edge is the worlds biggest music for film company," James Gibb, Head of Film and Music at Cutting Edge USA, detailed. "What we do is, we're like a music department, but for independent producers."
"More and more of our productions are coming to Louisiana," he added. "We felt there was an opportunity to open an office here."
Over the past 18 months, Cutting Edge has been involved with the post-production work on over 130 films. Many of those were filmed in Louisiana, so the step to open an office here seemed only natural.
"In the last year we've done about 15 films in Louisiana. Invariably, what happens is we do the films in Louisiana, and then we go back to L.A., or London to do post-production and create all the music," Gibbs explained. "We thought, hold on, there's a great wealth of music talent here, and we should use that and create all the music for these films without taking it out of the state."
The goal for the Louisiana branch of Cutting Edge is to establish a library of musicians, studios, and recording professionals to complete scores for films. Since setting up shop only a couple months ago, they've already added the first New Orleans-based band to their roster.
"It was so simple" Robert Fortune, local musician, said about his experience with Cutting Edge. "I sent them the music and they wanted a couple up tempo rock songs and we heard back from them in a week."
The Robert Fortune Band will have its song, "Cadillac," featured in Never Back Down 2, which was filmed in Baton Rouge back in October 2010.
"I think it's a huge benefit," Fortune added when discussing how he feels the new job opportunity could help local musicians. "My sister is 16 and in high school. She finds a lot of her music with Shazam. She'll hear a song in a commercial or movie that she likes, and she uses that to find a new band she likes.
"Take the Black Keys for example," he continued. "They're blowing up in films and commercials. I think having your music out there like that is a major help for all artists."
Truly, the old music industry model went out the window with the rise of the Internet. And, companies like Cutting Edge are finding new ways to redefine the music industry model.
"A company like Cutting Edge has a very unique model, to where they're not only on the music side, they're investing in music in film," Stelly said with enthusiasm. "So what they're doing here really raises the bar for Louisiana...now you can come in and record your sound track, you can do your scoring here, and these guys will place music in your films. What's really beautiful about their [the Cutting Edge] model is that they're going to be placing Louisiana musicians in these films, so for us that's very exciting.
"I think over the next two or three years of doing this, we can find the next big star to come right out of Louisiana," Gibbs added.
The addition of Cutting Edge is yet another sign that the film industry is here to stay in Louisiana. As more convergence finds its way into cajun country, the more job opportunities will start to appear in different areas of the industry.
If you are a musician and would like to learn more about Cutting Edge, or submit music for consideration, all you have to do is submit an email at [email protected] You can also call (225) 610-1613.