LA Film Deal Gives Financing to New Orleans

Los Angeles-based Element Films and New Orleans-based LIFT Films are partnering to create a fund that will bring a series of film productions to Louisiana over the next three years.

The companies have entered a production-financing agreement that will allow for the development and funding of a slate of films to be shot exclusively in the state. The deal calls for a minimum of eight films and as many as 15 and could bring to Louisiana more than $200 million worth of productions. The projects also will take advantage of Louisiana's aggressive film incentives.

Element, run by CEO Sam Nazarian and president Adam Rosenfelt, has financed and produced several films in the state with LIFT, including "Waiting," starring Ryan Reynolds, and is a partner in LA Squared, a Louisiana-based film fund that is a combination of private equity, public financing, bank debt and Louisiana state tax credits. LIFT Films is a partnership between LIFT Prods., Louisiana's largest film and television production studio, and Bart Prods., formed by Louisiana attorney and producer Morris Bart.

Element will call upon its deal with Lionsgate to secure distribution for some of the films, a deal that calls for Lionsgate to distribute nine Element films over three years. The company also intends to rely on such distributors as MGM, which is releasing its Louisiana-shot Kevin Costner starrer "Mr. Brooks," and ThinkFilm, which released Ed Norton's "Down in the Valley," for some of the slate.

"It's a re-commitment to Louisiana, which is important to me because it's become a second home for me," Rosenfelt said. "It's a been a very successful collaboration with LIFT and with the state, and we are now able to grow it."

The Louisiana Governor's Office of Film and Television Development praised the deal.

"It's a great opportunity," executive director Alex Schott said. "It's a slate of projects that are guaranteed to get made and are guaranteed to sustain production in our state for the next three years. The fact that a local company is involved is all the better. LIFT is a Louisiana success story, and it's a model for our state. We always intended to build up our companies so they could eventually partner with Hollywood and grow from there."

The first picture financed under the new arrangement is "College," a comedy about three high school seniors who experience the wildest weekend of their lives during a visit to a local university as prospective freshmen. "College" is scheduled to begin preproduction in the fall in New Orleans. Rosenfelt, State Street Pictures partners Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr., and LIFT Films' Malcolm Petal, Kimberly Anderson and Bart are producing. Nazarian and Element chief operating officer Marc Schaberg are executive producing.


Borys Kit writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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