New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center was the site of extensive media attention recently during the filming of Paramount Pictures’ upcoming comedy “Daddy’s Home,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
While shooting a basketball scene at halftime during an NBA New Orleans Pelican-Los Angeles Laker’s game on Jan. 21, Ferrell hit a cheerleader in the face with a basketball and was subsequently yanked out of the arena by security. Shortly after, photos and videos of the hit from multiple angles were circulating on social media.
This was highly publicized, even when it was determined that the cheerleader was an actress and the scene was staged for the movie.
Game attendees were informed about the film shoot, which was the first of a series of scenes filmed at Smoothie King Center Jan. 21-23.
“We do several movie shoots a year at various locations around campus either at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or Smoothie King Center,” said Alan Freeman, of SMG, general manager of both facilities. “Typically, the production company will contact us to see what dates are available to film at our locations.”
Although the cheerleading scene was shot during the basketball game, filming also was scheduled around the games.
“Once it gets to the point where filming is during a game, we remove ourselves from the conversation and put the production company in contact with the Pelicans directly,” Freeman said. “There is licensing rights to deal with and the NBA gets involved. It’s a different process in this case.”
The production company was charged an undisclosed hourly fee to utilize the facility, with the exception being when filming took place during an NBA game.
Last year, more than 100 movies and television shows filmed in New Orleans, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The 2013 Feature Film Production Study by FilmL.A., the not-for-profit film office serving the Greater Los Angeles region, found that Louisiana was ranked first in total live-action feature projects, related film jobs and related production spending that year. This report analyzed a sample of 108 U.S. feature films released theatrically in 2013, identifying where filming took place, how much was spent on production and how many jobs were sustained during production.
“Louisiana is often referred to as Hollywood South,” said Lauren Cason, director of marketing and communications at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The state’s tax credit is largely responsible for all of the film production here.”
Louisiana’s tax incentive package for filming was created in 2002 and is responsible for a skilled crew base that has grown more than 400 percent in the last 13 years.
According to the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy and Film New Orleans, qualified direct production Louisiana expenditures receive a 30-percent tax credit, with an additional 5-percent tax credit for payroll expenditures to Louisiana residents. There is no annual cap, and tax credits may be used to offset corporate or personal income tax liability in Louisiana, sold back to the state for 85-percent face value or brokered on the open market.
Tax incentives are available to all motion picture production companies for the purpose of producing nationally- or internationally-distributed motion pictures, although the production company must be headquartered and domiciled in Louisiana and spends at least $300,000. Only work physically performed in Louisiana and only tangible goods acquired from a source within the state qualify for the program.
“We get the benefit of tax credits four times a year when movies shoot on campus,” Freeman said.
Interviewed for this article: Lauren Cason, (504) 566-5059; Alan Freeman, (504) 587-3892