Georgia tops California in feature film production, study finds

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Gov. Nathan Deal was among the state officials celebrating the booming film industry during Film Day in March 2017. Photo: Jennifer Brett

Georgia tops the list of filming locations with California coming in fourth, behind the United Kingdom and Canada, a new industry study finds.

“Several years ago…Louisiana made national news when it hosted more of the major feature films released in 2013 than any other location worldwide. Fast forward to 2016, and it is another Southern U.S. state that finds itself in the top spot,” a lengthy study by FilmLA found. “Georgia hosted primary production for 17 of the top 100 domestic films released in 2016.”

California hosted 12. In 2015 the ratio was reversed, with 21 filming there compared to eight in Georgia. The study considered the top 100 domestic films for each year for its findings.

The study notes Georgia’s concerted effort – notably the state’s enticing tax policies – for turning the Peach State into such a showbiz destination:

“Earlier this year, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared 2017 ‘the year of Georgia film.’ The truth is, the state actually claimed this title the year prior, in 2016. The rapid growth of the film and television industry in Georgia and the state’s steadfast commitment to its support is remarkable. With 17 projects in 2016, the first-ranked Peach State hosted nearly three times as many feature films as fifth-place New York and Louisiana.

This is almost certainly due to the state’s record investment in film attraction. As the most recent Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget Report shows, Georgia set another record for spending on its incentive program last year. According to the report,3 the cost of Georgia’s film tax credit in terms of credits issued was $606 million in FY2016, which is the largest amount spent by any jurisdiction in North America or Europe on a film tax credit program in a single year. This breaks the previous record of $504 million, which is what Georgia spent on its program in FY2015.”

Read the entire study here.

The tax incentives that have lured a steady and growing stream of movie and television projects to Georgia are here to stay as long  Deal and Speaker David Ralston have anything to say about it.

In March, during the 2017 legislative session, they and Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson were joined by actors dressed as Captain America, Thor and Katniss Everdeen (whose other doppelgangers, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence must have been busy) for Georgia Film Day. 

“I am excited by the success of this industry,” Ralston said. “As long as I sit in that office, there will be no bigger fan of that tax credit and this industry than I am.”

Georgia-lensed productions generated an economic impact of more than $7 billion during fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016), the Georgia Department of Economic Development said. Citing stats from the Motion Picture Association of America the department says “the film and television industry is responsible for more than 85,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in wages, directly employing more than 25,000 Georgia residents.”

During FY 2016, 245 feature films, television movies and series, commercials, and music videos were filmed here and 2017 looks to keep up the pace – or even increase it.


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