It’s often been said that when you add a billion here to a billion there, you start talking about real money.
Gov. Nathan Deal had that option today, Aug. 2, when he announced that feature film and television productions produced in Georgia generated an economic impact of more than $7 billion during fiscal year 2016, up about $1 billion over fiscal year 2015.
Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr added that the state now ranks number three in TV and movie productions, “just behind California and New York.”
According to a news release from the governor’s office, 245 feature film and television productions shot in Georgia over the course of the year represented $2.02 billion in direct spending.
The remaining billions were generated through the development of related infrastructure and the activities of small businesses including equipment, lighting, catering, casting and lodging companies and trucking firms.
The news release cited the opening of Atlanta Metro Studios in Union City and a significant expansion at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville. More than 130 new businesses, it said, have relocated or expanded in Georgia to support the industry, creating jobs for Georgians as well as economic opportunities for communities and small businesses.
While Jimmy Carter has been credited with opening the state’s film office as governor in the early 1970s, Mr. Deal has been an ardent supporter committed “to constructing a strong, film -ready workforce that will continue to help the industry thrive.”
Last year Mr. Deal created the Georgia Film Academy, a collaborative effort between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to fast track students into the film and television workforce.
The General Assembly passed attractive tax incentives for the industry in the late 1990s when it became apparent that Canada’s incentives were luring productions away from the state. Louisiana also had an aggressive program.
To compete, the legislature passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act providing a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in the state.
Georgia provides an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state.
These credits of up to 30 percent, the economic development department’s web site says, provide “significant cost saving for companies producing feature films, television series, music videos and commercials as well as interactive games and animation.”
And although Atlanta reaps most of the benefits, every one of the state’s 159 counties participate in the “camera ready” program providing a contact person for location scouts and producers looking over the varied countryside for places to shoot a film.
Members of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Advisory Commission who oversaw the industry’s growth in FY 2016 include:
Matt Thompson, executive producer and co-owner of Floyd County Productions, an Atlanta-based animation production company.
Michael P. Tyson, rigging gaffer on the feature film “Element,” produced by Amnesia Productions, LLC.
Andrew Greenberg, executive director of the Georgia Game Developers Association and organizer of the Southeast Interactive Entertainment and Games Expo.
Mike Akins, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees, Local 479.
Stephen G. Weizenecker, a partner in the Atlanta office of Barnes & Thornburg, LLP. He is a member of the governing committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Sports and Entertainment Industries and is the chair of the Entertainment, Sports and Entertainment Law section of the State Bar of Georgia.
W. Craig Miller,founder of Craig Miller Productions and is the co-president and public relations chair for the Georgia Production Partnership.
Stratton Leopold, owner and operator of Leopold’s Ice Cream. He has worked as a producer, executive producer and co-producer, overseeing the production of many films including “Mission: Impossible III.
John B. Raulet, a real estate professional with Raulet Property Partners. He and his partners own and operate two film and television sound stage facilities, Mailing Avenue Stageworks and Westside Stageworks.
Donald W. Pearson, owner of Pearson and Company in Tifton. He is a member of the Atlanta Society of Financial Service Professionals.
Karla Redding-Andrews, executive director for the Otis Redding Foundation.
LaRonda Sutton, director of the Mayor’s Office of Entertainment for the City of Atlanta.
Christopher W. Klaus, founder and chief executive officer of Kaneva.
Jim Pace, co-founder of Group VI, a real estate and construction firm in Peachtree City. He is a managing member of River’s Rock, LLC, and is responsible for the overall development of Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
Craig Heyl, Turner Studios’ Production and Creative services, Business Operations and Technology teams.
Kris Bagwell, executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios. He is also the founding chairman of the Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance.
Shay Bentley-Griffin, president and CEO of the Chez Group and is a producer and developer of Georgia-based original content for television and film.
Charlie Bethel, represents the 54th District in the Georgia Senate and is chair of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Jody Jackson, executive director of the John Jarrard Foundation in Gainesville.
Butch Parrish,retired pharmacist and represents the 158th District in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Jeffrey E. Mullis, represents the 53rd District in the Georgia Senate. He is the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and is a member of the Appropriations, Economic Development and Tourism and Regulated Industries and Utilities committees.
R. Brian Strickland, partner at the law firm of Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC, where he specializes in civil litigation out of the firm’s McDonough office.