- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Louisiana’s new cap on film tax credits could send more movie business to Georgia and Mississippi, says the Mississippi Film Office’s Gulf Coast project manager.

As one of the top film locations outside of California, Georgia is likely to get some of the business that might otherwise have gone to Louisiana, sometimes called “Hollywood South,” Bill Webb said.

Georgia already has crew, equipment and production facilities, Webb told The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1IDtV4c).

But, he said, “We should see some additional action.”

A new state law puts a $180 million annual cap on the amount the state can pay for film tax credits for the next three years. That’s about $77 million less than the state was otherwise expected to spend in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Detractors say Louisiana’s credits bring the state only pennies on the dollar in jobs.

Mississippi Film Office director Ward Emling said movie business is growing in the Magnolia State.

“Last year, we had our biggest year ever with 19 films and another 12 or so projects utilizing the incentive program, and this year we could surpass that,” he said.

The Bruce Willis film “Precious Cargo” wrapped recently after shooting across South Mississippi, and “Astronaut Wives Club,” which had scenes on local beaches and at the classic ‘50s diner in Gulfport’s Triplett-Day Drugstore, is on television Thursday nights.

The movie industry draws excitement in a local community and Webb said the effect lasts beyond the production. In Canton, fans tour sites where the movie “The Help” was filmed, and he said other film sites are just as popular.

“People want to see where a John Grisham movie was shot,” he said.

The film office staff is working with production crews to prepare for upcoming films. Webb said he has scouted locations for five or so films that want to shoot some or all of their production in South Mississippi between now and next spring.

He said Mississippi’s six southern counties hold 21 distinct communities. Most productions with budgets less than $30 million film on location, he said, and can shoot on the beach one day, then move to the woods or the Pascagoula River, which he said looks like the Amazon.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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