When the levees broke, TV production was washed away in New Orleans. Features have since returned, but producer Jon Miles is trying to spread the word to the factual television community that there’s money to be saved and a city to be rebuilt.
Miles is the owner/EP of Lagniappe Production and Post, a factual prodco based in both DC and New Orleans. Having been personally impacted by the disaster – his wife is from New Orleans, and her parents’ house was knocked out by the flood – Miles is talking up the extensive incentive packages New Orleans offers producers.
For tax credits to kick in, a minimum of $300,000 must be spent in the state. Originally this was only available to the film industry, but Miles knew there was a need to get television into the fray, and that $300,000 was a figure that would equally benefit series and larger TV projects. He lobbied for TV, and it was approved. ‘That was the big breakthrough for us,’ he says. The state, which is used to features arriving on location, shooting and then leaving, can now benefit from TV’s more steady nature. Information on the tax incentives can be found on Miles’ website (www.lagniappepost.com) with approval from the state of Louisiana.
‘It’s about building a television and production center so people realize they can come to Louisiana, come to New Orleans, and then in that way help to get the state back on its feet,’ he says. ‘We are doing our best to talk to heads of production at Discovery, National Geographic and the Smithsonian Channel, and while pitching projects, we’re also letting them know there are incentives,’ he says. ‘It’s a business thing for [us] and it’s a personal passion project. My wife [and I] saw firsthand what happened as a result of the levees breaking and we know what needs to be done.’
With a handful of features currently being shot in the city, Miles believes he’s seeing movement from networks, and predicts within the next year or so, other projects will call The Big Easy home. That’s good news for the shattered economy. ‘If I had told you that there would be a major city in North America that would undergo a major disaster and up to five years later still be sitting there completely un-rebuilt, empty for nearly two months, nobody would believe me,’ says Miles. ‘It’s a surreal event. Whatever the film and television business can do to bring it back is very important.’