TurnKey/Louisiana, a new “production resource” company designed to attract more film and television shoots to Louisiana, was recently launched by Hollywood television producers Gary Strangis and Bernie Laramie.The idea behind the company, based in Shreveport, is to leverage the allure of Louisiana’s already hefty entertainment tax incentives with access to the latest in Hollywood gear, technology and workflow services, making shooting in the Bayou State even more attractive.TK/LA will broker cameras (both film and digital), editing suites, and other equipment supplied by a group of Hollywood firms on an exclusive basis, and rent these to productions shooting not just in Shreveport but throughout Louisiana.”By linking an extensive array of established, complimentary, industry-leading vendors, we’ve formed a ‘virtual backlot’ in one of Louisiana’s main production arteries,” explained TK/LA co-founding partner Strangis, whose producer credits include The Practice and Ally McBeal. “And since TK/LA retains no studio affiliation, its vast services are available to the entire filmmaking community.” The companies in the consortium are: Cinelease & Expendables Plus, Wexler Video, Coffey Sound, MOS Sync, Fairfield Studios of Shreveport, InterVideo, Wilshire Editorial, West Post and Westwind Media.The Southern California companies will be supplying digital acquisition products, lighting and grip equipment, on-location communication, digital dailies systems, editing systems, and postproduction support—including film and digital lab work, and virtual editing.In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, Shreveport, once hardly on the map for shoots, has emerged as an alternative center. So far this year, 13 productions budgeted at over $200 million have been made in or around the city. About a third of the total, or around $65 million, was spent locally. However, New Orleans has lately been making a strong comeback as a location.”We have it all and we make it available in custom packages or ÃƒÂ la carte—the choice belongs to our filmmaker clients,” noted Laramie, whose producing credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Max Headroom. “Because this equipment is largely offered as an in-state-spend, the filmmaker has the added benefit of recapturing a significant percentage of production expenditures through Louisiana state tax incentives.”Under Louisiana’s tax-break regime, out-of-state films and television shows that spend more than $300,000 in the state qualify for a 25-percent tax rebate. There’s an additional 10-percent employment tax credit for workers hired locally, for production payrolls up to $1 million. The rules were revised at the beginning of 2006 to limit the credits to “in-state spend,” where previously productions could claim credits for some out-of-state expenditures.However, questions remain about whether equipment rented out by a Louisiana-domiciled company like TK/LA that is mainly supplied by out-of-state vendors qualifies for the full extent of available tax breaks, Despite the tightening of provisions, Louisiana’s tax credits remain among the most generous in the US. For a television movie or a smaller-budget film the 25-percent recapture can be decisive in choosing Lousiana as a location. One deterrent, however, has been the difficulty in obtaining top gear and production services, as well as capable local crew, who qualify for the 10-percent employment credit.”More producers and studios will no longer see Louisiana as a compromise destination when they realize that there’s a state-of-the art infrastructure in place,” said Strangis, adding that the presence of new equipment “will hopefully assist in growing a better crew base.” Strangis, based in Shreveport and overseeing the operation, would like to see the city designated as an official production center. Currently New Orleans is the only IATSE-sanctioned production center in Louisiana.Laramie is based in LA where he will link with the vendor companies and be closer to news about new productions that could be lured to Louisiana.
Written by Jack Egan