At first, you see a sign or maybe a large truck unloading lights outside of a nearby diner. Then you hear that Paul Rudd is in town, or maybe Jennifer Aniston. You think nothing of it. "It's cool, but whatever." Then you see Captain America himself coming out of Whole Foods. "He looked familiar," you question yourself, "Was that Chris Evans?" The next thing you know, it's everywhere. Corners of town packed with film crews shooting the latest film or television show. Maybe you've gotten a call from a location scout, or like many Georgians, have been an "extra" on a film set. Or maybe you were just shaken out of the imaginary world a T.V. show sucked you into as you noticed, "Was that the Lawrenceville courthouse?" Metro Atlanta is now number three in productions in the U.S. behind Los Angeles and New York and the industry is paying attention. More than 100 industry-related businesses have relocated to Georgia cities, including Gwinnett. It can be said that Hollywood is no longer a destination, but rather a state of mind. And if you haven't felt the impact yet, you are about to!
Why are they here?
Well, there's no doubt that attractive tax incentives, up to 30% in credits, have been the leading impetus in bringing film and television productions to Georgia. What does this mean? It means that it's cheaper for films to be made in Georgia than many other areas in the country. According to Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film Office, tax incentives have brought in 244 productions last year. The trade-off is the economic impact that comes from these productions, a number totaling $6 billion.
What's the Impact for Gwinnett?
"A significant percentage of productions done in Georgia are being filmed in Gwinnett," says Lisa Anders, executive director, Explore Gwinnet. She has recently received over 150 location requests from production companies to shoot in Gwinnett. On the horizon is the Atlanta Media Campus & Studios in Norcross, to be developed by Jim Jacoby who developed Atlantic Station in midtown. Plans include a film school and housing as well as studios, sound stages, production facilities, offices and a hotel. The studio will join Eagle Rock Studios, also in Norcross, and a handful of other nearby soundstages already booking new films, television, and video game productions. The economic benefits spill over to many auxiliary businesses in Gwinnett. Hotels, restaurants, car rentals, dry cleaners, caterers and a myriad of services have benefitted from this newfound business and there are additional benefits as well. Vacant buildings have often been "given a facelift" for production purposes and bring about revitalization along with rental income. Such is the case with FOX's "Sleepy Hollow" filming in the county seat. Lisa Sherman, director of Community and Economic Development for Lawrenceville, reminds us that, "Production companies come in and leave, but while they're here, they revitalize and improve the entire area for the long term."
Support Georgia Film Productions by adding these titles to your "Must See" list:
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 2
2. The Divergent Series Allegiant, PT. 1
3. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War
4. Sleepy Hollow, Season 3
5. The Walking Dead