Arts

Can Georgia’s Film Industry Survive A Challenge?

If another state offered a better incentive, would Georgia’s film industry survive?
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
Audio version of this story here.

Georgia is now one of the most popular places in the world to film movies and TV shows. Projects skyrocketed after the state began a 30 percent tax credit in 2008, but, if another state offered a better incentive, would Georgia’s film industry survive?

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The short answer to that question is … probably. The reason is that Georgia has trained workers and film-friendly locations.

Shay Griffin knows all about those resources. She runs Chez Studios, a casting company with an office at the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta. She’s also a film advisor for the state.

“Other regions of the country may put up as nice a tax credit, perhaps, as we have, but, on the other hand, they still have to get an infrastructure,” Griffin said.

Griffin points to Michigan’s 42 percent tax credit. It failed two years ago because it was too expensive to bring workers to the state, and, she said, Michigan winters didn’t help.

But, Griffen said Georgia’s production infrastructure isn’t enough for long-term stability. She said Georgia needs more of its own investors, screenwriters and post-production companies, so filmmakers can say, “This was made in Georgia, created in Georgia, and much of everything that was involved in it would be Georgia.”

Griffin said that independence will happen someday if the state continues its support. So, will it?

“Well, we certainly hope so,” is the answer from Lee Thomas. She’s Georgia’s deputy commissioner of film, music and digital entertainment.

“That’s one of the things that’s differentiated us from other markets is that we haven’t had legislators or a governor that have gone kind of up and down with it,” she said.

Thomas did say so-called religious liberty legislation could be a threat to Georgia’s TV and film industry since some companies have threatened to leave if the state passes such a bill. Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a religious liberty bill last year, but the Republican candidates for governor have shown strong support for such legislation.

That said, Georgia’s 30 percent film tax credit doesn’t have an expiration date, and the state plans to expand other initiatives like the Georgia Film Academy.

That should make Georgia strong enough to take on any challenge from another state.

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