The film and television industry pumped a record-setting $4 billion in direct spending into Georgia’s economy over the past year, despite the pandemic and in spite of calls earlier this year for a business boycott of the state because of its restrictive new voter law.
According to the Georgia Film Office, 366 productions filmed in the state during the last year, including 21 feature films, 45 independent films, 222 television and episodic productions, 57 commercials, and 21 music videos. With the nation’s largest film incentives program, Georgia handed out $870 million in subsidies to film and TV productions in 2019 – more than New York’s $420 million and California’s $330 million combined.
“Because Georgia was the first state in the country to re-open our economy and worked with film productions across the state to ensure they could safely continue operations, the Peach State’s film industry is leading the nation,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “As the top state for business for an unprecedented eighth year in a row, the jobs, economic development, and investment in film and other supporting industries are a key part of Georgia’s success story. This record-breaking announcement also highlights Georgia’s incredible momentum in economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“This year’s record-breaking spending by the film industry demonstrates that our efforts to grow jobs for Georgians continue to pay dividends,” said David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. “With an industry-leading film tax credit, a ready workforce and a business-friendly attitude, Georgia is perfectly positioned to continue attracting more productions and the jobs they will support. Our continuing success is a testament to what can happen when the public and private sector work together to expand economic opportunity in every corner of our great state.”
According to the Georgia Film Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, additional costs that productions spent to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus contributed to the record $4 billion they spent in the state. “These numbers are due to a variety of factors in addition to the state’s overall attractiveness to the film industry, including an earlier safe return to production, pent-up demand from the Covid-19 hiatus, and the associated expenses to mitigate risk. New safety protocols also added to production costs and timelines.”
“Georgia allowed productions to return before other markets, so we not only had returning shows that shut down due to the pandemic, but we were also able to attract new shows that were slated to shoot in other, locked down markets,” said Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film Office. “This additional slate of projects, combined with increased budgets due to the need for additional crew and space, plus stringent safety measures, led Georgia to have an even higher than projected record year.”
“The growth of Georgia’s film industry is truly exciting, impacting every corner of our state from communities to small businesses to individual Georgians,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Seeing our beautiful state on-screen along with our iconic Georgia peach logo is good for tourism and other marketing efforts, ultimately making an even bigger impact on our economy. The Georgia Film Office has been working with our camera ready communities, productions, education partners, and so many more to make sure we are responsive and continuing to capitalize on the benefits for small and large communities across Georgia.”
Last week, TV shows filmed in Georgia garnered 62 Emmy nominations, including WandaVision (23 nominations) from Disney+ and Marvel Studios, HBO’s Lovecraft Country (18 noms), Amazon’s The Underground Railroad (7), and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (5) from Disney+ and Marvel Studios.
Calls for a business boycott of the state because of its new voting restrictions have largely fizzled. Major League Baseball moved this year’s All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver to protest the law, but so far, Emancipation, the slavery-era drama directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Will Smith, has been one of the very few films to follow suit, relocating instead to Louisiana.
Democrats on the U.S. Senate Rules Committee held a field hearing in Atlanta on Monday to look into the state’s new voting law, which was signed by Gov. Kemp on March 25. Opponents say it was designed to disproportionately affect the turnout of Black voters by requiring tougher ID rules for absentee voters; limiting the use of ballot drop boxes; giving state election officials the ability to override the decisions of local election boards, and making it illegal to offer food or water to those waiting in line to vote. Supporters of the new law say it’s designed to instill voter confidence. “Putting hardworking Georgians first starts with ensuring that your voice is heard and restoring each and every citizen’s confidence in their vote,” Kemp said of the law.
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