Louisiana Taxpayers Pay $70,000 Per Episode To Duck Dynasty Cast

I often write about the absurdity of film subsidies and in the United States, one of the biggest offenders is the state of Louisiana which offers a 35% subsidy for film and television shows that shoot there. This is sort of why you probably see so many shows with Louisiana-based themes like Duck Dynasty.

This subsidy also goes to pay cast salaries which reportedly is $200,000 per episode. That means the Louisiana taxpayer cut Duck Dynasty producers a check of about $70,000 per episode for each cast member which was mentioned on a thread earlier this year. One of the cast members, Phil Robertson recently got into trouble with some very anti-gay remarks.

Mr. Robertson is allowed to have whatever anti-gay view he wants and A&E is allowed to give him a show or not at their discretion. The major problem I see here is that the Louisiana taxpayer is forced to endorse his view by providing funding of 35% for their show. This is in a state where a recent poll showed that 9 out of 10 residents oppose gay and transgender discrimination.

Furthermore, in general these film subsidies have been a big money loser in Louisiana. I pointed out earlier this year that the state loses a whopping -85% on the amount they dole out.

Soldier On.

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42 Responses to Louisiana Taxpayers Pay $70,000 Per Episode To Duck Dynasty Cast

  1. None the less LA producers out of work have moved to Lousiana because we aren’t offering anything in California to keep production in the state. California with the most progressive political leadership on human rights (except pornography that’s a shameful embarrassment to the state refusing to protect adult workers while exposing them to AIDS/HIV) and encouraging a culture that is non human affirming and promoting sex that is deadly and dangerous to human life) doesn’t do anything to keep independent production here. The state rests on it’s porno capital of the world reputation while letting all other productions leave the state in pursuit of economic survival.

    • vfxmafia says:

      actually they just passed a condom law….and porn is leaving the state too….

      I agree that California needs to protect Cali film productions…..but please don’t fucking make excuses for the fucking producers who will whore out there productions to any subsidy in sight. I nearly threw up in my mouth when you mention poor “LA producers out of work”…..yeah the producers are out of work in LA because they are taking subsidy money somewhere else and making bank.

      • Jahenna Norris says:

        All of the out of work, or never did work actors turned porn or barkeeps or producers, directors that do not know what the acronyms AFTRA and SAG stand for can go do their crummy porn movies back where they came from. That would free up some of that money for the real deals. I use the term Hollywood loosely. A lot of the real deals have taken off to places like No. Carolina, Screen Gems hosts quite a few. California, just as the music business is so broken that it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up again. Such a same for the real deals.

    • The vast majority of the projects that have received the CA tax credit have been independents. Please stop saying the state “doesn’t do anything for them”. A thank you would be more appropriate.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Adrian,
        I believe California appropriates…$100 million to indies and TV shows….due to qualification restrictions…not all of the $100 million is actually alotted every year……(To my knowledge)…..

        Such wonderful indie productions as Mtvs “Teen wolf” is a recipient…

        Its not much compared to the billion each year that Canada spends (including all provences combined)….or the %80 that EU now gives indie movies…but a tiny thank you is in order if your a cut rate Cali TV producer.

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        I actually like that this subsidie IS intended for small productions that need it rather than huge blockbusters.
        It does not help the trend of runaway productions in LA though.

  2. Scott says:

    That is a very far stretch of the truth. LA did not pay anything for the interview Phil did with GQ. In addition, if you read what Phil said, he did not say anything about any group of people. He stated what he believed and what made sense to him. The only person who was discriminated against in this whole thing is Phil. No person was harmed in any way except Phil. I think facts are far more important that opinions.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Scott,

      The point is Lousiana tax payer dollars paid $70,000 K to each cast member of the show…..basically giving tax payer money to a bunch of red neck racist millionares….

      If you are going to cut the National Endowment for the arts or PBS for being too liberal or too offensive……because of tax payer interests…you can’t fund a dip-shit duck now can you?

      • Matt says:

        Only the people in Louisiana pay the taxes that are turned into subsidies and then given to the cast and crew that films locally in that same state. It’s local taxation that stays local. Comparing that to the NEA or PBS is false because the NEA and PBS are taking Federal Funds not local funds. It’s like saying people in Florida should be taxed to pay for snow removal in North Dakota.
        Besides a majority of PBS is paid for privately and a lion share of that comes from those evil Koch brothers. /sarc

  3. DD says:

    He didn’t make any very anti gay comments. He simply said it was a sin and paraphrased a couple Bible verses to back up his statement. Maybe whoever is Judging Phil should spend a little time reading their Bible. Last I heard we still have religious freedom in this country.

  4. A suppose we can put ol’ Phil up on a cross now and stick a spear in him since he’s the new martyr for the Christian Right. Last year, it was the Chick-Fil-A Chicken being branded as the new saint of Christianity for standing up for all that is Holy Matrimony in the eyes of the Church. These folks want to be on the wrong side of history with their public criticism of homosexuality but cry fowl (pardon the pun) when their own bigotry is examined in a public light. Batter and fry all the nonsense at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/holy-rollin-poultry-on-cross-chick-fil.html

    • Matt says:

      Phil did not say anything bad but stated his opinion when asked directly. Luis Farakhan on the other hand has publicly called for the beating and stoning of Homosexuals. What I find strange is that you make the false claim that Phil speaks for all Christians and as such lump them all together for the actions of one. Yet I bet you have never once called out Louis Farakhan and the Nation of Islam for their view on Homosexuality. I’m not saying Farakhan speaks for all Muslims but if we are passing judgement on what people said and what they mean then please explain the lack of reaction to Farakhans remarks other than cowardice?
      Phil said he does not judge or pass judgement on anyone and you are freaked out by this. Louis says to beat and stone those very same people you say are offended by Phils remarks and nothing but silence. No demands that Farakhans radio shows and appearances be curtailed.

    • Jahenna Norris says:

      Don’t you just love those Phil’s minions. “He said nothing wrong, standing up for what he believes”. Sure he did, and look what happened, period. It doesn’t change the fact this family and others have not evolved into anything. It’s that primitive way of thinking (brainwashing) that holds this country back. Most of us know what equal rights mean so yes, you have freedom of speech and the press but too many of us abuse it. Maybe in Phil’s case he used it in the ignorant way which brings us to the difference of who may be better educated than others. Use the Amendments all you want or like but remember, it will have consequences and that’s what you need to be ready for. Always crack a window.

  5. Michael Everett says:

    If Louisiana taxpayers paying $200K to the cast of a fake reality show seems a lot, take a look at the Federal subsidy that provides the funds for Louisiana that in effect serves as a Federal subsidy of a state subsidy, which taxpayers in California and other progressive states pay out in Federal taxes that are then redistributed to states with low education levels and failing economies.

    In terms of Federal taxes paid by state taxpayers, and how much each state receives back in the form of Federal payments, grants, etc., Louisiana is the number two state welfare queen in the U.S. In 2012 Louisiana taxpayers paid Federal taxes of $35 billion and received back $116 billion in Federal payments for a net gain of $81 billion. In comparison, in the same year California taxpayers paid $295 billion in Federal taxes and received back $259 billion in Federal taxes resulting in a net loss of $36 billion. Illinois, at the top of the list paid in $70 billion more than they got back. At this rate California would pay in an extra $360 billion over ten years while Louisiana would receive back net Federal payments over the same period of time in the of $810 billion!

    And these are the very people whining over big government, taxes, and the Federal budget deficit! With one of the lowest education attainment levels and a crumbling infrastructure, Louisiana might do better by redirecting their film/tv subsidies toward education and infrastructure, with the goal of creating a sustainable state economy that doesn’t need to pass the hat to taxpayers in other states in order to make ends meet.

    • minoton says:

      I think the administration refers to it as spreading the wealth . . .

      But to your later point, yes, Louisiana, BC, NZ, UK, et. al. should be spending subsidy money locally in the areas most useful.

    • vfxmafia says:

      Micheal,
      Im glad someone brings this up besides myself…..

      States like Tex-ASS, Lousiana, and FLorida are welfare queen states. They don’t pay state taxes and are “right to work-for-less states: If you are familiar with right to work states…they are very anti labor…and anti union.

      Because they are not collecting state taxes their Federal aid packages are higher than California. If cali went state tax free, they could lobby for free handouts like TexASS….and lousiana.

      It is shocking how are tax dollars are spent…..alot which is going to put California VFX artists at the airport.

      • Frank N. Stein says:

        “Tex-ASS”. “Welfare queen states”. Really? Your leftist bias is pretty obvious. What you insinuate may or may not be true about those states. But as far as actual people on welfare, California rules, per capita. As for Texas, it has one of the best employment rates in the country, even through the ongoing recession, while California has one of the worst. So there IS some worth in the right-to-work approach. I’ve lived in California most of my life, and think that the way it has been governed for at least 20 years is truly a mess.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Tex-ASS has the highest employment rate of low paying jobs. Why do i have to pay more in taxes if Im from California….and TexASS gets away with the most federal handouts….? The state offers more loop holes for companies that gets around labor laws….

        They are the king of low paying jobs….and part time work….with a ton of people NOT getting healthcare…..so if the companies won’t pair fair wages….the money comes from the Federal government…..the jobs they do have are for shit-bag companies like Walmart…

        I couldn’t give a flying fuck about liberals or conservatives….all i know is you are for worker rights or your for %1….

        I hate fucking Obama for coming to LA….and making a speech about “How the film industry is great for US jobs” ……and for his $35,000 a plate friends like CLooney and Katsenberg……

        careful who you call a liberal…….Im for VFX labor rights…..and i don’t see either party doing anything. And Texas needs to pull its own weight as state…..

        do you really want to start this debate? cause facts are on my side….

      • Frank N. Stein says:

        If you stand for VFX labor, the Texas rant is misdirected. There are some game and movie companies there, mainly in Austin and Dallas, and they are not doing the subsidy thing as far as I know. Most of my long career in this business has been in California, but I worked for an Austin game company for a few years, and they paid me very well, 8 hour days, with great health insurance. I’m sure there are plenty of crap jobs in Texas, but there good ones as well. As in any state.

        California is the state that is losing all the work, and as we all know, despite whatever labor laws are in place the VFX jobs are often far from ideal. The project based nature of the industry makes it easy for employers to exploit the talent they hire. Our industry is one of the worst for health benefits, job security, and overtime. I’m all for union gigs if you can get it, I was in the animation union for years. But when you get to a “certain age”, good luck with finding any more work at the union studios. And the union has very limited power beyond enforcing basic labor laws and offering a health and pension plan. That Obama visit at Dreamworks was indeed revolting. But expecting the crew to object with green shirts… well they were scared for their jobs and the union can’t protect them. No one wants to rock the boat at a place that has fairly steady employment and benefits, management can easily drop you when the project ends. Jobs of any kind are scarce in California, but especially in our industry.

        But I digress. I’m just wondering why the Texas hate? They are not doing anything to damage the VFX industry as far as I know. I’m not really defending the governing style of Texas, just stating that low paying or not, at least their people are able to get jobs and work. Not unemployment and welfare as it is here in California, which drains the economy and our taxpayer dollars. The name calling, swearing and hate will not advance your (our) cause.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Frank..

        I have a major problem for “right to work states” and states that charge no tax revenue. States like NC, Texas, Florida….all charge no taxes….and really shady labor laws… and very little government over sight…

        Take for instance the Chemical plant that recently blew up in Texas last year…..Texas reduced regulations to the point the chemical company didn’t keep any type of safety standards….THEN they required the chemical company to only carry $1 million in insurance. So when the poorly run plant exploded and destroyed half the town…the townspeople couldn’t sue the company (which was protected by the politicians)

        Same could be said for Lousiana…that STILL has little regulation for companies like BP who caused the oil spill….

        When you have lax regulations…..no rights supporting labor…a state government who wants the wages as low as possible….and pro corporateloop holes….it spells trouble for the average working guy….

        Part of the reason John Textor did what he did was because of Florida’s tax laws….These states have bought off governors who set up “Corporate Havens”. and embrace predatory capitalism.

        Places like NY and California…have THE largest economies….and pay their share in taxes…that money is redistricted to state welfare like Texas,.

        (OH and Austin is NOT part of Texas)

        If you start looking at US susbsidies…and appropriations you will be shocked where the money goes….mainly to southern states who problems with little or no social saftey nets…..for their population. Aid comes from somewhere…it comes from the federal level…..your taxes…

        The reason why work is leaving California is because WOW they balanced the budget and Jerry Brown opposes film subsidies….

      • vfxmafia says:

        @ Frank N. Stein…
        Actually the real reason for the hate for Texas is because Im from Philly….LOL (Cowboys suck!)

      • Janey says:

        Yeah, dude … You lost me with the stupid “tex-ass” and blah blah yay union comments. Shows an obvious bias and really soured people on your message.

      • Janey says:

        And.. “Take for instance the Chemical plant that recently blew up in Texas last year…..Texas reduced regulations to the point the chemical company didn’t keep any type of safety standards….THEN they required the chemical company to only carry $1 million in insurance. So when the poorly run plant exploded and destroyed half the town…the townspeople couldn’t sue the company (which was protected by the politicians)”

        Ugh. Please stop using that as an example of your anti-Texas attitude, man…

        It was not a chemical plant. It was a small transfer facility. Huge difference. It was not just TX – Federal regulations allowed it too. Since it was not a plant, and only a transfer facility, it didn’t *need* huge insurance policies. Did you know that hazmat trucking companies barely have $1m in coverage too? The same trucking companies carrying toxic materials through cities every single day. It didn’t destroy half the town either. But yes, the loss of life was tragic – and I knew one of them. So yes, I do take this a little personally.

        But yeah, we’re stuck with Tony Romo. :/

    • vfxmafia says:

      Frank..

      And your wrong about Unions. Unions do offer protection for wrongful termination. If Dreamworks employees excercised their own basic rights to wear a differnt color tee shirt…..they would have realized it is not grounds for termination. I actually have been critical in several postings of the union……because i thought they should have issued a public statement of basic worker rights…..something stating that it is not against law to wear a non offensive colored tee shirt at company with no dress codes…..nor is it grounds for termination.

      Unions do awesome things like pensions, and negotiate collective barganing…(for most of the labor rights we take for granted today)….you wouldn;t have holidays and OT and sick days and discrimination laws and certain health plans if it wasn’t for unions. For that we ALL are indebted to unions. Unions have fought for most of our rights we are giving away today….(like being afraid to wear an freakin tee shirt)…..

      Unions have become impotent by states who legislate union breaking laws like “Right to work for less” states….

      • Frank N. Stein says:

        If you read what I actually said, I explained how management gets around “wrongful termination”. You should know that jobs in our industry work very differently than your typical job; it is all project based. When the movie is finished it is easy to drop employees for ANY reason, and no one can prove anything about the real reason why. The project ends and they downsize, end of story. Any grievance filed with local 839, EDD, or even a lawsuit, would go nowhere.

  6. James M says:

    Seems a little ridiculous that the taxpayers have to pay this when there are other more worthy things to spend tax money on.

    • hector says:

      You should see Montreal.
      The Marois government cut money form education and health and start spending taxpayer money on tax incentives.
      it is a shame! Montreal is already the poorest place in Canada. And one of the most corrupted city in North America.

  7. Long Time Post & VFX Producer says:

    I’ll say it again… Take away subsidies to even the playing field and all the work will go to India, China, Hungary, Pakistan, Bulgaria over time. US studios will force VFX vendors to open shops in those areas as London, Canada, NZ, Louisiana falter. The talented VFX Supervisors and VFX Producers Mr. Rand refers to will always have a place in Los Angeles, they will lead their armies of artists via Skype like technologies with strong Lieutenants on the ground in these countries. I believe the VFX armies will not return to Hollywood proper.

    Plus, a stronger US Dollar itself (and it is getting stronger) can drive work to places like Canada and Australia like it did in the 80’s and 90’s when the Canadian dollar cost a US Producer 64 cents. Stephen J. Cannel and MGM TV perfected this back in the day before incentives even existed. No CVD can even the playing field on an exchange rate. Instead of chasing subsidies studios will just chase exchange rates.

    And agreed, “All Spend” subsidies like Louisiana are not sustainable and quite dumb, but “Labor Only” subsidies like BC actually have minimal economic detriment for local taxpayers as direct and indirect spends on other goods and services drive GDP in areas like expendables, capital goods, consumer goods, durables and tourism that are not always measured properly against the outlay. Income Taxes on local residents are paid on the labor that almost equals the incentive (maybe a 10% difference). Non qualifying non resident laborers who come to these areas on a project/contract basis also pay taxes and spend money while in the locale. The two biggest political parties in BC support the labor subsidy, it is not going anywhere for some time, and it will actually increase in some job classifications in entertainment industry in 2014 (not VFX jobs though).

    As mentioned in recent posts, the US government gives out massive subsidies of it’s own, unfortunately none of it goes to us. It’s hard to condemn smart subsidy programs in other countries and their provinces (like the one in BC) when our own country has numerous unsound corporate handouts of its own.

    On a brighter note, I think the VFX craft has the opportunity to become more decentralized over time, which might be a solution. If each artist was employed directly by the studio or production company (like everyone else on a TV show or Film pretty much is), had their own tools, own facility (i.e. home studio) and could control their own overhead, this might be a cure. VFX companies have large CAP EX, OP EX, and markup on labor costs that ultimately eat into monies that the artist could get directly.

    Perhaps the current VFX company model is antiquated and needs to change?

    If Hollywood studio VFX producers and studios could hire all their labor directly, and in doing so bypass an outdated facilities model and their poor management and unrealistic low ball bidding tactics, it may be a way to keep more work as local hire in California. The music production and graphics arts industries have pretty much taken this route and it has not fled.

    Just a thought.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      your post varies between naive and clever. The studios HAVE triode hiring their artists themselves, they still have in-house units on many films (last one i know whats a god day to die hard). they have no desire to shift the money problem from the vfx shop to themselves. the secret lab and other shops tanked and the studios know doing their own vfx would be costing them more. Dave Rand argues that projects could be run better with the helmer there and I can see that but for now its cheaper for them to have vfx shops bare the burden of opening satellite offices.

      if the studios start chasing exchange rates rather than subsidies id be ok with that! at least the exchange rates are not based on how many tax payer dollars some province or state choses to throw away in tax rebates!

      currently the countries you name ARE cheaper to produce in, why do you think is some work still here and not all there already? this whole scarecrow of the work is going to india/china is an old hat. they don’t want to work with them and it has not increased drastically since they opened their offices there 6-7 years ago.

  8. Teresa says:

    To the author, if you read Robertson’s remarks, you would know they were not anti-gay. He said what is in the Bible, but he did not in any way express hatred or advocate violence towards homosexuals. That would be ludicrous, since his position is based on the Bible, and the Bible would not advocate such things. Taxpayers all over the country, including me are forced to pay for abortions. Does that bother you as much as Louisiana taxpayers subsidizing films? Seems to me that Louisiana loves the Robertsons. Perhaps this is none of your business.

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  10. […] the state $170 million in lost tax revenue in a single year. By one estimate, the state is handing $70,000 per episode to the cast of Duck Dynasty – all while pleading poverty to justify deep cuts to public health care programs and to […]

  11. […] up to 30 percent of local production spending, offering tax credits redeemable for cash. One industry blogger estimated that that meant Louisiana is spending $70,000 per Duck Dynasty episode on payroll […]

  12. […] up to 30 percent of local production spending, offering tax credits redeemable for cash. One industry blogger estimated that that meant Louisiana is spending $70,000 per Duck Dynasty episode on payroll […]

  13. […] industrial insider estimates that the show gets as much as $70,000 dollars from Louisiana taxpayers per show the […]

  14. […] industry insider estimates that the Duck Dynasty cast, which is paid $200,000 per week to appear on the popular reality show, […]

  15. […] industry insider estimates that the Duck Dynasty cast, which is paid $200,000 per week to appear on the popular reality show, […]

  16. […] Well, as it turns out, much of that money comes from the state of Louisiana, as in taxpayer money. How much? Try $70,000 per show. […]

  17. […] Well, as it turns out, much of that money comes from the state of Louisiana, as in taxpayer money. How much? Try $70,000 per show. […]

  18. […] while big business is continuing to get tax breaks, while the film industry continues to get a 35% subsidy for filming in the state,  students are being hit with tuition increases year after year. Jindal […]

  19. Imogen says:

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