What started with an idea to make Georgia a magnet for television and film productions has generated a $9.5 billion economic impact in the past year alone. To explore the future of this booming industry, a panel of industry leaders will gather on campus to share their vision for cementing Georgia’s role as “Hollywood South.”
The panel discussion, which is the University’s Spring 2018 Charter Lecture, will be held Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. in the Chapel. It is free and open to the public, and I anticipate a strong turnout for an outstanding group of panelists.
Joining us will be Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of “The Walking Dead;” Will Packer, executive producer of “Straight Outta Compton;” and Lee Thomas, a UGA alumnae who is deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The panel will be moderated by the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy, Jeffrey Stepakoff.
Georgia offers thousands of accessible locations for filming that range from the mountains to the coast, big cities to rural areas and everywhere in between. This wealth of locations is complemented by a nationally competitive incentive program. Georgia’s Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which was signed into law in 2005 and updated in 2008, provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in Georgia. The state grants an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state. In addition, Georgia’s Camera Ready program provides trained liaisons to help with scouting, permitting and other production needs.
Today, there are an average of 30 to 40 productions going on at any given time across our state. This high level of activity benefits people working on set and also the people in the communities where the productions are filmed. The economic activity generated by the film industry benefits caterers, construction workers and accountants—to give just a few examples.
To support the workforce needs of the film and digital entertainment industries, the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia partnered to create the Georgia Film Academy in 2015. The GFA provides students with extensive hands-on experiences that enable them to fill positions in on-set film production, lighting, set construction and other industry roles.
Thanks to several longstanding institutional programs, UGA is uniquely positioned to help build on this momentum to make Georgia’s film industry permanent and sustainable. The University’s Department of Theatre and Film Studies has roots that date back to 1893, and our highly regarded Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication was founded in 1915. The Peabody Awards, established in 1940 in the Grady College, is widely recognized as the most prestigious awards program in electronic media.
The establishment of a thriving entertainment industry is one of our state’s great success stories. A range of filming locations, competitive incentives and institutions of higher education that are committed to promoting economic vitality make Georgia one of the nation’s very best places for productions of all sizes. Georgia has a great story to tell when it comes to the entertainment industry, and we’re just getting started.