Written by on Jun 19, 2014. Posted in On Location

Georgia builds on filming appeal with Insurgent and Oprah Winfrey-produced Selma

Georgia is building on its national production appeal by hosting the young adult sci-fi sequel Insurgent and the 1960s-set civil rights drama Selma, which has Oprah Winfrey as a producer. The state is already the long-term host of hugely successful zombie drama The Walking Dead.

A generous filming incentive worth up to 30% of eligible local spend has been key to Georgia’s success in recent years, as has a skilled crew base, flexible locations and fast-developing studio infrastructure.

Pinewood Atlanta Studios recently opened a new facility just south of Atlanta, while Raleigh Studios Atlanta and Atlanta Film Studios Paulding County – managed by RoadTown Enterprises – also offer filming facilities in and around the city.

“The opening of Pinewood Atlanta Studios further reinforces that Georgia is open for business for the film, television, music and digital gaming industries,” explains Chiquita Banks, of Atlanta accountancy firm Bennett Thrasher LLP.

“In addition to the general increase in production associated with having more stages available within the state, we also anticipate an upturn in production companies remaining in state for their post-production/editing needs.”

The arrival of Insurgent in Atlanta marks the second time in recent years that a successful franchise has relocated to Georgia, following the Hunger Games sequels.

Georgia’s production industry is flourishing, delivering USD3.3 billion in revenue in 2013 alone, according to figures from the state’s Department of Economic Development. This includes money spent on expenditure such as crew hotel nights, catering and prop hiring, the so-called ‘trickle-down’ effect of the film industry.

The arrival of Insurgent in Atlanta marks the second time in recent years that a franchise has relocated to Georgia.

“Furthermore,” Banks continues, “the state has seen an influx of experienced crew members (production accountants, cameramen, lighting and grip experts, etc) who have become permanent residents of Georgia. By allowing this incentive to remain viable, the state continues to invest in an industry that has proven its investment in Georgia.”

Filming incentives are particularly controversial in the US, with detractors arguing that the money is better spent elsewhere. On the west coast, the California film industry is struggling with a long-term runaway production problem caused in part by a lottery-based tax credit that does not support larger features or TV dramas.

In the east, the producers of the Netflix political drama House of Cards recently threatened to film elsewhere without a larger filming incentive payment, while North Carolina looks likely to downgrade its popular filming tax credit for 2015.

Banks describes the budgeting for filming incentives as generally “a tough balancing act”. She adds that while the controversy surrounding tax credits in rival states is “not unfounded”, incentives are a normal part of stimulating growth in a broad range of industries beyond film.

With The Walking Dead currently filming its fifth season in and around Atlanta and Marvel’s comic-book adaptation Ant-Man based at Pinewood Atlanta, Georgia looks set to retain the production spotlight in the competitive US market.

(The Walking Dead images: AMC; Hunger Games image: Murray Close/Lionsgate)


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