Gov. Bobby Jindal and Pixomondo CEO Thilo Kuther have announced the creation of a new Pixomondo LLC visual effects studio in Baton Rouge that will create 75 new direct jobs in film, TV and commercial production work. The company’s work won an Oscar at Sunday’s 84th Annual Academy Awards for visual effects, or VFX, in Hugo. Pixomondo will occupy more than 6,000 square feet at Celtic Media Centre and make an initial capital investment of $1.2 million.
Opening in May, the Pixomondo Baton Rouge studio will be the German company’s 12th international location. Annual salaries will average more than $65,000, plus benefits, and Pixomondo will hire 50 people in its first year, expanding to 75 by the end of its second year. The project will result in the creation of 49 indirect jobs, Louisiana Economic Development estimates, for a total of more than 120 jobs.
Gov. Jindal said, “When I took office, we had laws on the books that called for scaling back motion picture tax credits. At the same time, other states were becoming more competitive and trying to attract the film industry to their states. Instead of just letting other states beat us and take our jobs, we made a commitment to strengthen our entertainment industry and make it bigger and better. That’s why it’s no accident that the film, TV and entertainment industries in Louisiana have more than tripled in size since we took office.
“Pixomondo already operates a dozen VFX studios worldwide and they could have chosen anywhere to create a new studio. Pixomondo’s decision speaks volumes about how far Louisiana has come in improving our business climate, in providing competitive incentives, in developing the 21st century workforce that companies demand, and in attracting a highly successful film industry. The bottom line is that Louisiana’s film industry and the Baton Rouge market have arrived in the big leagues of the entertainment world, and we’re here to stay.”
“Opening an office in Baton Rouge fits perfectly with our overall company vision,” said Kuther, the Pixomondo founder and CEO. “Louisiana offers a very generous production tax credit that we can pass on to our clients to bolster our project load as well as our growing teams in Los Angeles, London and Germany – not to mention China and Canada. Baton Rouge is a beautiful city with a wealth of resources. We’ve already connected with the Louisiana State University computer science department to help set up remote render farms and virtualization with our other studios.”
The state began working with Pixomondo six months ago to gauge the company’s interest in establishing a visual effects studio that could partner with major movie and TV productions in Baton Rouge and Louisiana, where annual film production now exceeds $1 billion and ranks third behind the California and New York markets. The rapid growth of the Louisiana film industry attracted the company, as did Louisiana’s permanent tax credits of up to 35 percent for Louisiana-based payroll expenditures on digital media and film projects.
In 2009, Governor Jindal signed a law to strengthen the Louisiana Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit, increasing the 25 percent tax credit to 30 percent – and, adding another 5 percent on Louisiana-based payroll for a total credit of up to 35 percent. For every dollar of tax credits spent on film production, Louisiana gains more than five dollars of economic activity.
The year before Governor Jindal took office, Louisiana saw 79 productions file for tax credits that planned to spend $408 million in Louisiana. In 2011, there were 151 projects filmed in state, and their expenditures in Louisiana amounted to $1.4 billion. That means over the past four years, Louisiana’s film and TV industry has grown by 250 percent, more than tripling in size. Louisiana’s film industry is supporting more than 8,000 jobs now that weren’t in the state a decade ago.
The Baton Rouge studio will work with Pixomondo’s international locations on major projects that require around-the-clock production across different time zones. Project work will include visual effects for corporate campaigns as well as film and TV productions.
To secure the Pixomondo project, the state offered customized solutions from LED FastStart£, ranked the No. 1 workforce development program in the nation. Pixomondo also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s digital media and film production tax credits and the Quality Jobs Program. In addition to LED, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Baton Rouge Film Commission, LSU and Celtic Media Centre all played key roles in attracting the project to Baton Rouge.
LED Secretary Stephen Moret said, “Louisiana is on a roll in digital media. Since Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature enhanced our digital media tax credit program in 2009, our state has had the second fastest growing information sector in the U.S. With recent announcements like the expansion of EA’s global quality assurance center in Baton Rouge, as well as the launch of a major new Gameloft development studio and the new GE Capital Technology Center in New Orleans, Louisiana is poised to become one of the leading creative and technology centers in the South and the nation.”
“Baton Rouge and its citizens are proud to have Pixomondo as part of our family,” said Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden. “This is another testament to the benefits that the partnership between the Governor’s Office, LED, BRAC and the Mayor’s Office is bringing to our city and state. We roll out the red carpet for one of the world’s greatest visual effects companies: Welcome!”
“Pixomondo brings a new globally competitive, visual effects firm to our region and further contributes to the Creative Capital of the South,” BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp said. “Their talented workers will assist our growing digital media and film industries, joining companies like EA, Firebrand Games and many others. This is a sign of the trend of our region’s digital media competitiveness.”