SAG-AFTRA member Trey Burvant, who is the president of the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association, shares his insights on what it means to be a “local” in terms of the state film incentives and in terms of SAG-AFTRA contracts.

What does it mean to be "local" in Louisiana for the purposes of earning additional tax credits?

Producers who shoot their film, television and commercial projects in Louisiana may potentially earn a 25% tax credit based on the dollars they spend on their project in state. While other states, such as New Mexico, Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina also have programs that incentivize the same expenditures, Louisiana offers producers an additional 15% incentive on the hiring of its residents. It is important for actors, their agents and managers to understand their additional value for producers seeking to maximize their spending here in Louisiana.

In order for a producer to earn the labor credit, talent must prove they are a Louisiana resident. The laws were amended in 2017 to make clear that the state was not allowing labor credits on non-Louisiana residents. Owning a house or having a temporary address or obtaining a Louisiana ID will not qualify. According to a 2017 amendment to state law, a “resident of Louisiana” refers to a person who is required to file a Louisiana individual income tax return. Furthermore, the state requires each individual claiming to be a resident to attest to this fact by signing a Declaration of Residency form, which is maintained by the production and verified by the state’s assigned accountant. In addition, payment must be made to a person and not a loan-out company. 

What does it means to be “local hire”?

If a producer, casting director or agent asks a Texas actor to “work as a local” on a project filming in Louisiana, are they asking to avoid paying per diem, housing and travel, or to earn the additional tax credit?

If it’s the former, chances are the producer is not concerned with the downstream savings at the audit stage and is just looking at cutting immediate production costs. However, if the producer is concerned about maximizing the tax credit at the audit stage, the Texas actor will not qualify for the additional 15%. So, for the second option, if the Texas actor agrees and is taken at their word, that producer will learn 10 months later at the audit stage that they lost money on that actor. In other states, such as Georgia, being a resident doesn’t matter because there is no extra incentive to hire resident Georgians. Thus, in Georgia you can be assured what the producer cares about are the distant hire costs.

This is a crucial distinction about what it means to be considered a “local hire” in the state of Louisiana versus other states like Georgia. While Louisiana resident actors potentially increase the financial incentives by being hired for in-state work, the same cannot be said for resident actors working in neighboring states. In advance of being offered an audition, those actors are often asked to work as “local hires,” meaning that they will foot the bill to drive, house and feed themselves at an overnight location.

Professional performers need to be informed regarding SAG-AFTRA’s rules as well as state and local regulations applying to their work in different areas of the United States. If you have questions about travel provisions in any of our SAG-AFTRA contracts, click here for who to contact. If you have questions about the Louisiana Motion Picture Production Program click here.

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