Georgia Film Impact: When We Last Spoke
Don’t miss out on the latest movie premiere showing at The Ritz this week, When We Last Spoke.
If you’re reading this column you are most certainly aware When We Last Spoke movie was filmed here in Toccoa-Stephens County last summer. This week we are hosting the red carpet, world premiere at The Historic Ritz Theatre, beginning this evening April 11th, 2019 with showtimes at 6pm and 9:15pm. Additional showtimes are Saturday April 13th at 3pm and Sunday April 14th at 3pm and 6pm, all at The Ritz in downtown Toccoa. You will want to stop by or Chamber/Welcome Center office today or tomorrow to get your tickets if you haven’t already done so.
How exciting…our fourth movie premiere in 3 years...with two more on the horizon. Not to mention, we are always looking for the next project to host in our own little Hollywood in NE Georgia. Just last week, our local leadership (who have been key team players in the community group effort for each of the movies filmed here thus far) and I had the privilege of meeting with Lee Thomas, our Georgia Deputy Commissioner of Film, Music & Entertainment from the Georgia Department of Economic Development last week to discuss the experiences we have had in the movie making business. Lee shared her insights and expertise with us and noted how the film making business has moved from a “location” driven to an “incentive” driven decision for most production companies. In 2008 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act was passed and has worked well for our State in attracting production companies to Georgia. This act includes:
· A flat 20% tax credit on qualified production expenditures
· Requires a $500,000 annual minimum spend to qualify
· Provides an additional 10% uplift if the production company includes a Georgia Promotional Logo in the qualified project
· Transferable to Georgia Taxpayer or corporation
· Production company can use to offset Georgia taxes or sell the credit to monetize
In 2018 Georgia was home to 455 combined productions which include feature films, TV movies and series, commercials and music videos. These projects delivered a $9.5 Billion economic impact to Georgia as compared to the $5 Billion impact to the State in the combined years of 1973-2008. So why do they choose Georgia?
· Production incentives: up to 30% tax credit
· State-of-the-art-art infrastructure - studio/stage space, cameras & equipment, casting & crew, catering services, production, and transportation companies all available in Georgia
· Highly-skilled workforce
· Diverse shooting locations
· Direct flights through Atlanta airport
Georgia Film Academy was established and began enrolling students in 2016 partnering with our university and technical college systems in Georgia to help meet the casting and crew needs generated by the industry. Thus, creating our own in-State workforce. Georgia has now become the number one location in the world for movie and tv production, and has been for a number of years. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the motion picture and television industry is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and $4.6 billion in wages. These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of nearly $84,000/year, 75% higher than the average salary nationwide.
The film and television industry, as glamorous as it sounds, actually has had a huge impact on economic development in Georgia and in Stephens County. Toccoa-Stephens County is a Camera Ready Community in Georgia and has been home to the filming of six “family friendly” movies which have or will air on the INSP Network, Hallmark Channel and Netflix. Earlier this year a tv show pilot-show featuring the life of Paul Anderson, was filmed here which will appear on the History Channel in the fall. Each film/tv project, depending on the size budget, has spent between $80,000 and $350,000 directly in Stephens County during the filming process. That is economic development for which we are grateful, right here in our own backyard.
The people and businesses of Toccoa-Stephens County have been extremely supportive, and we have certainly benefitted from this somewhat unexpected and certainly un-budgeted for addition to our tax base. We will continue to intentionally build relationships in the industry in the effort to promote our community and continue to be known as a great place for the film/tv industry to do business.
Rick Eldridge of ReelWorks Studios, the production company behind the film When We Last Spoke, has generously chosen to give back to our community by donating a portion of the proceeds of the premiere to The Hope Center of Toccoa, as a way of saying “thank you” to Toccoa-Stephens County. So you won’t want to miss out on the latest premiere showing at The Ritz this week, When We Last Spoke. We will have the popcorn ready and waiting for you. See you at the movies!