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Louisiana's film industry slowing picking up after being shuttered by COVID-19

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BATON ROUGE - A few production crews are starting to roll again after the COVID-19 pandemic put a screeching halt to Louisiana’s film industry.

It’s been five months since most film crews have worked on set and industry leaders in the state say that is left a huge gap in content.

"I think that everyone is ready to get back to work. I think they understand that it has to be done safely,” Chris Stelly with Louisiana Entertainment said.

A total of 14 film projects happening statewide were put on hold in March after the coronavirus began to rapidly spread. Now, Stelly says they’re starting to see productions come back, first in the Big Easy.

"Right now there's an Amazon project that's being shot. Cameras are rolling in the city of New Orleans. It's called Leverage 2.0. It's a TV series in its second season,” Stelly said.

Another Amazon production will reportedly be filming in Tangipahoa Parish starting on Thursday. It comes after Louisiana Entertainment released its return to work guidelines for motion-picture productions.

The guidance includes a face masks requirement for everyone not in front of the camera, constant COVID-19 testing for cast and crew, and social distancing and building capacity requirements. Those guidelines and more need to be monitored by a coronavirus compliance officer on each set.

"As long as productions adhere to what the governor has ordered,” Stelly said.

In 2019, the state saw $538 million in spending from film production activity. Stelly says he actually doesn't expect this year to be far off with the production boost they’re expecting in the second half of this year.

"Certainly all signs and the phone calls are coming in, and everything is trending towards a strong second half finish here in 2020 and 2021,” Stelly said.

Crews and the public are both hungry for new content following months of waiting, according to Stelly. He expects jobs will be aplenty for those looking.

"I see that as an opportunity for Louisiana that already has a deeply skilled workforce, but also a great infrastructure and we'll probably see more production and more job opportunities for Louisiana residents, which is exciting,” Stelly said.

Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge say there are a few TV shows interested in using its space. Filming for those productions wouldn’t start until at least October.

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