Deep South Studios’ CEO: ‘We’re Open For Business’
Scott Niemeyer, the founder and CEO of Deep South Studios, said his production facility, the largest purpose-built film, television and digital media studio in the Southeast, is ready for its close up.
With a proverbial slap of a clapboard and a call for “speed” and “action,” Niemeyer announced that Production Resource Group (PRG), a global entertainment and live event production services company, will be the first long-term anchor tenant at his massive west bank campus.
“We’re open for business,” said Niemeyer. “This strategic alliance with PRG allows us to offer entertainment clients and companies one-stop shopping when it comes to production services. This cornerstone tenant brings a host of ancillary services, resources and equipment that every production would need.”
“This new addition also speaks to the State’s renewed efforts to attract business,” he said. “Louisiana has doubled down on bringing in more companies to join the entertainment ecosystem.”
Last year, crucial changes were made in the 2017 Legislative Session to resurrect Louisiana’s entertainment industry’s tax credit program, Niemeyer said. Before the edits to the motion picture production, digital interactive media and software development, musical and theatrical production and sound recording tax credits and incentives, many local businesses in the industry were ready to fade out. But last December, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) designated Deep South Studios as Louisiana’s first Qualified Entertainment Company (QEC) – fade in a new state program to cultivate sustainable jobs and permanent investment for Louisiana’s motion picture, digital, music and theatrical industries.
LED defines QECs as programs that provide tax credits on annual W2 wages to entertainment companies that create well-paid jobs for Louisiana residents. The performance-based program provides a 15 percent credit for each new job whose QEC payroll is equal to or greater than $45,000 per year, up to $66,000 per year, and provides a 20 percent credit for each new job whose QEC payroll is equal to or greater than $66,000 per year, but no greater than $200,000 per year.
“This reinvigorated the movie business in Louisiana and breathed life back into a very viable component of the Louisiana State economy,” said Niemeyer.
Niemeyer said he has recently completed construction on three of the 11 buildings planned for Deep South Studios’ main campus, that will exceed 250,000 square feet, and PRG will occupy one of these new structures from which they will provide immediate access to its full inventory of leading-edge technologies and equipment.
“PRG exists to deliver world-class production solutions for live entertainment, film and scripted television,” said Randy Hutson, PRG’s senior vice president and general manager, Entertainment West. “We are excited about this new partnership with Deep South Studios that will introduce PRG’s vast capabilities to a new set of directors, producers and designers.”
“We are aggressively seeking to attract our first project or production that will take advantage of the infrastructure we have already built,” said Niemeyer. “As the first Qualified Entertainment Company designee, we have become the poster child for the program, ready to create long-term jobs while building permanent infrastructure and supporting industry and content creation in the state. We check all the boxes.”
Niemeyer said there are 20 motion picture projects being developed in Louisiana now, in “pre-production, principal photography, post-production or wrap.” With the State’s backing, Niemeyer said the industry will soon see its money shot. Last year he said about $700 million movie production dollars were generated, and he predicts this year that number will jump in Louisiana’s autofocused “film-friendly environment.”
“We are making a concerted effort to attract companies that will invest in physical facilities here, create good-paying permanent jobs and become a permanent part of Louisiana’s entertainment landscape,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. “Deep South Studios and companies like it will broaden the foundation of the entertainment industry in Louisiana to produce a greater economic impact for our state. We are happy to see PRG join Deep South Studios in this endeavor.”
Some of Deep South’s sound stages won’t be ready for their cameo until April 2019, all construction on the campus’ 11 buildings is scheduled to be completed by early 2020 and Niemeyer said his preferred provider arrangement with PRG’s Paskal Grip and Lighting Division is just one scene from the entire storyboard.
“Our campus will service the needs for all,” he said. “The studio will have other service providers on the lot from catering to payroll to transportation and equipment, everything needed and required for live entertainment to movies, content creation and distribution. We want to host and launch live entertainment and stage events as well. With our economic incentives and the recent revision of the statute for the motion picture program, we have become the first comprehensive entertainment production complex in Louisiana for all forms of entertainment productions.”