Jimmy Carter Library Takes Visitors On Tour Through Georgia’s Film Industry

“Georgia On My Screen: Jimmy Carter and the Rise of the Film Industry” is on view at the Carter Library now through December 31.

Myke Johns

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is taking visitors from Burt Reynolds to Black Panther with their exhibit: Georgia On My Screen.

The installation features dozens of props, costume pieces, puppets, and awards from over four decades of film and television made here, and leads visitors from the founding of the Georgia Film and Television Commission through the present day.

Carter Library’s registrar Carla Ledgerwood spent over a year researching and assembling the exhibit, both from the Library’s own archives and by reaching out to the studios that have worked here.

The Georgia film exhibit at the Jimmy Carter Library explores the state’s history in film production from Burt Reynolds to “Black Panther.” (Myke Johns/WABE)

Then-governor Jimmy Carter saw the success of the 1972 film “Deliverance,” filmed in North Georgia, and formed the State Motion Picture & Television Advisory Commission to actively market the state as a filming location. On an initial visit to Hollywood to meet with studio heads, Carter secured seven more productions to shoot in the state.

These were followed by tax incentives offered to productions in exchange for filming here.

“While a lot of people hear ‘tax credit,’ they don’t realize what the state is bringing in because of these industries,” Ledgerwood says.

In 2018, the Governor’s office reported that there was $2.7 billion in direct spending from film and television productions.

The exhibit is unintentionally timely in demonstrating the history, scope, and benefit of the industry, as several production companies have announced plans to boycott  the state following the passage of anti-abortion legislation by Gov. Brian Kemp. Ledgerwood says that her industry contacts are concerned about the impact that could have.

“The film industry really touches so many people. It’s not just actors and actresses and directors,” she says. “We have make-up artists, construction crews, electricians, people in the restaurant industry that cater to these companies. And that’s a lot of money. At the end of the day, this is a story about economic development.”

“Georgia On My Screen: Jimmy Carter and the Rise of the Film Industry” is on view at the Carter Library now through December 31.