- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana should continue tax breaks for its burgeoning film industry and develop ways to train people in a wide variety of film jobs, a Baton Rouge mask maker said.

Diana Branton, sculptor and chief creative officer for Composite Effects in Baton Rouge, said Louisiana topped California last year as the state producing the most live-action feature movies - 18.

That’s a big deal,” Branton said. “Louisiana is making some of the best movies out there now. We film movies here.”

At this year’s Academy Awards, “12 Years a Slave,” filmed at Felicity Plantation in Vacherie, St. Joseph Plantation and several locations in New Orleans, claimed best-film honors.

Lupita Nyong’o was named best supporting actress for her work in that film.

New Orleans makeup artist Robin Mathews shared the best makeup and hairstyling Oscar with Adruitha Lee for their work in another Louisiana film, “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Matthew McConaughey was named best actor and Bossier City native Jared Leto was named best supporting actor for their roles in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Branton’s firm benefits from increased film production in Louisiana because it uses computer-generated models to make molds used to produce silicone masks for a range of movies and television shows.

Some of those masks have appeared in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Marvel’s “The Avengers.”

Branton added, though, that California, Georgia and other states are offering film-tax credits to attract or retain filmmakers and the millions of dollars they spend on all aspects of the movie and television industries.

“This is kind of a call to arms for everyone,” Branton said.

She said producing films in Louisiana is a limited aspect of the business. People in other states are paid to develop ideas into movies and television shows, she added.

Branton said people in other states are claiming many of the jobs in pre-production, post-production and editing of movies and television shows.

Of Louisiana’s chart-topping film production last year, Branton said, “It’s like having one play and not the entire playbook.”

“Take that honor,” Branton said, “and turn it into an empire.”

She acknowledged that Louisiana’s film industry has been supported for years by the state’s generous film-tax credits. But film companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Louisiana, she noted.

A Los Angeles nonprofit, FilmL.A. Inc., estimated in March that the 18 live-action movies filmed in Louisiana last year meant $750 million was spent in the state on those productions.

The number of computer programmers graduating from Louisiana colleges has been growing for several years, Branton noted.

She said her company and other members of Louisiana’s film industry need more of those programmers.

“Let’s make it impossible for them to leave,” Branton said.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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