And with that comes more jobs, more economic revenue and more pride for those businesses and residents who are now appearing before millions on the big screen.
Stephanie Paupeck, communications specialist for the state government’s Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, said that from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, the economic impact of the entertainment industry in Georgia was $241.5 million. During the next fiscal year, which ended just after the new tax incentives were signed into law, the impact was $464.9 million. But from July 2010 to June, the economic impact was $2.4 billion, Paupeck said, and they expect that to grow even more during the current fiscal year.
Paupeck said 25,000 residents in Georgia are now finding employment in the entertainment industry in Georgia, and infrastructure supporting the entertainment industry is growing at a record pace.
“Companies are building new, state-of-the-art facilities, old facilities are expanding, casting agents are making Atlanta their headquarters, caterers, equipment rental houses, post-production companies — there are so many local vendors that are coming in and are staying very busy,” Paupeck said. “When you combine that with the incentives that are offered, to be able to have onsite workers who are skilled enough to work on productions, and to have a good climate and cultural diversity, it makes Georgia a great place to do business.”
The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which Perdue signed into law in 2008, provides an income tax credit of 20 percent to qualified productions, and an additional 10 percent tax credit to productions that embed a Georgia promotional logo in the titles or credits or as product placement within the content of the production, Paupeck said. The success of the incentives led to the state’s creation of the Camera Ready program, which allows participating Georgian communities, of which Cobb is one, to provide an “image library” of their community’s landmarks and venues that may be appealing to location scouts, as well as lists a liaison for interested scouts, producers and directors to contact about possibly filming in their areas.
Cobb Travel and Tourism Executive Director Holly Bass is Cobb’s liaison for the Camera Ready program, which Paupeck said now has 112 participating communities. Bass said she receives an average of two calls a week from entertainment officials wanting to know about locations in Cobb or seeking assistance in finding a backdrop that fits their specific requirements.
“We help them find the right location, guide them through the permitting process and make sure they are connected with the right people at the county or city level, for things like if they have to close streets or get a fireworks permit,” Bass said. “We definitely make sure they’re connected because the counties and cities play incredible roles in making everything go well.”
Craig Dominey, senior film location specialist for the state entertainment office, said Cobb has played major roles in recent productions. Some of those include AMC’s record-breaking television show “The Walking Dead,” which has filmed several scenes at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre near the Cobb Galleria Centre, and the film “A Joyful Noise” starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, which is expected to come out in theaters in January. The Marietta Square has also served as the location for many films recently, including “Neighborhood Watch” starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, and the Disney movie “Let it Shine.”
“The Square and Marietta have been used a lot, particularly for the area’s historic buildings, town square, historic homes and rural sections that people have been really interested in,” Dominey said. “Marietta in particular also has that small town Americana look that many people are looking for. And the Strand has a really interesting look and still looks like an old theater that is great for the many people looking for historically unique locations. Cobb offers a lot of different looks, and it also benefits from being in the metro area, so it is easy to shoot and come back to production locations afterwards.”
According to the state entertainment office’s website, the average medium budget feature film employees approximately 150 to 175 people, and a larger budget film employees around 200 to 250 people.
Follow Katy Ruth Camp on Twitter at twitter.com/KatyRuthC.