WMA will rep La. film fund

Agency adds Louisiana Pelican fund to brief

The William Morris Agency has been signed to represent the Pelican Film Fund, formed last year to bring film production to the state of Louisiana.

Goal is to dispense $300 million worth of production funding in the form of tax breaks and incentives over the next two years to help rebuild an industry ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

William Morris Independent will act as consultant to help the fund draw venue-appropriate films for financing consideration. While the WMA division arranges financing for about 25 indie pics per year, representing a free-standing film fund marks a departure for the agency.

While Louisiana was on the verge of reducing production incentives, Katrina changed the mandate. The Pelican Fund was set up as a one-stop shop that monetizes state tax credits and turns them into production funding. That eliminates middlemen who usually advance the value of a production credit to a film for a fee.

Program is administered by the Baton Rouge-based Art & Entertainment Law Group of LeBlanc & Associates, whose senior partner, Michele LeBlanc, runs point on the program.

WMI exec and agent Philip Alberstat said the agency began talking up its new client at the Cannes Film Festival and is already on the verge of closing deals with two films to shoot entirely in Louisiana. Pics are budgeted at $10 million and $20 million, respectively, and neither had been a certainty to shoot in Louisiana. He wouldn’t name the films.

“This is a terrific opportunity to rebuild the infrastructure of the film industry there,” Alberstat said.

Pelican Film Fund becomes the third financing fund repped by WMA on a consulting basis. Also in the fold is the Beverly Bridge Fund, which has co-funded pre-production on several films that include the John Boorman-directed “Tiger’s Tale” as well as “Flawless,” a Michael Radford-directed drama that stars Demi Moore and Michael Caine. WMA also reps and packages pictures for El Camino, Bob Yari’s financing entity.

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