People may often ignore that Atlanta is one of the top three busiest film and television production centers in the United States. Atlanta is even called the “Hollywood of the South or Y’allywood.” Every year, Georgia generates billions of dollars thanks to hundreds of film and television productions. Georgia is home to many prominent studios such as Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Eagle Rock Studios, EUE/Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios. Moreover, many major films and television series have been shot in Georgia, namely the “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “The Walking Dead,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Ant-Man.” In addition, more than 30 film festivals are organized in Georgia every year. The most important film festival is the Atlanta Film Festival with more than 1,800 submissions from all over the world and an audience of 25,000 people.
Georgia is attractive to the film and television industry for several reasons. It offers financial incentives for the film and television productions, diverse environments for shootings, great connections with the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as well as professional amenities, resources, and staff.
In 2005, Georgia’s General Assembly and Governor adopted the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act (hereinafter, the Act). The Act created a tax credit of ten percent for movie and television production spending within the state. In 2008, the Act was amended to increase the tax credit to twenty percent. An additional ten percent may apply to a qualified production if the Georgia Entertainment Promotion Logo appears in the end credits of the finished product. This means that the total value of tax credit may reach thirty percent of qualified in-state expenditures.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development must certify that the project is eligible for the tax credit by verifying that the production and expenditures are qualified. In order for the project to be eligible, the production must be of a specific type. Qualified productions can include, for instance, feature film, documentaries, music videos and television movies or series. However, live coverage of news and sports, industrial and corporate marketing videos, commercials that are distributed solely via the Internet, pornographic content, and all others that are not original film or television content recorded in Georgia do not qualify for the tax credit.
Once the product is found to be eligible, the expenditures must be found to be qualified. Qualified expenditures may include camera equipment, motion picture film, masters and hard drives, location fees, sound recording equipment and costumes to name but a few. However, license fees cannot be included. The minimum investment in the project must be USD 500,000 over a single tax year on qualified expenditures in Georgia.
Requirements for the tax credit do not include holding a Georgia bank account or being incorporated or headquartered in Georgia.
To summarize, Atlanta is a top-notch location for the film and television industry since Georgia offers an advantageous tax credit to qualified productions and expenditures. Some States such as New Mexico or countries like Canada similarly attract the film and television industry with their tax incentives. However, “Georgia can double for New York and LA” and “[…] for Amsterdam and Paris too.” This is a definite advantage in comparison to its competitors. The question still arises to know whether Atlanta will overturn Los Angeles as the capital of the movie industry. In my opinion, it will be difficult for Atlanta to become the first film and television production center in the United States in a near future. Los Angeles has a long-standing and renowned tradition in the industry that can be hardly forgotten. Furthermore, tax incentives create mainly short-term employment opportunities around specific projects. Strategic decisions are still taken by leaders of the industry in Los Angeles.
Eliana Dockterman, How Georgia Became the Hollywood of the South: TIME Goes Behind the Scenes, Time (July 26, 2018), https://time.com/longform/hollywood-in-georgia/; Steve Fennessy, Hollywood of the south: Atlanta's film industry is building its own mini-city, Guardian (Oct. 26, 2018), https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/oct/26/hollywood-south-atlanta-film-industry-mini-city; MeLinda Schnyder, Go on location: Hollywood of the South, Aopa (Aug. 30, 2019), https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2019/august/30/go-on-location-in-the-hollywood-of-the-south; Rebecca Angel Baer, Atlanta is the New Hollywood — And We Love It!, Southern Living (June 26, 2017), https://www.southernliving.com/news/atlanta-new-hollywood; Why Atlanta is the Hollywood of the South, Compass (Jan. 30, 2018), http://www.nataliegregory.com/atlanta-hollywood-south/.
36 TV Shows and Movies Filming in Georgia in November, Project Casting (Nov. 10, 2019), https://www.projectcasting.com/news/now-filming-in-georgia/; T. Sommerville, Is Atlanta Really the New Hollywood of the South?, FilmHubATL (Nov. 14, 2019), https://filmhubatl.com/atlanta-hollywood-of-the-south/; Tom Cunneff, Move over, Hollywood. Atlanta is becoming a major film mecca, CNBC (Nov. 1, 2016), https://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/01/atlanta-rivals-hollywood-to-become-major-film-mecca.html.
See supra note 2, 36 TV Shows and Movies Filming in Georgia in November.
The complete list of film festivals in Georgia is: Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival, Rome International Film Festival, Buried Alive Film Festival, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, SCAD aTVfest, South Georgia Film Festival, ME Film Festival, Cinema Italy Atlanta, American Youth Film Festival, RKDS Film Fest, 48 Hour Film Project Screenings, Atlanta Shortsfest, Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Macon Film Festival, Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival Atlanta, Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival, Atlanta Horror Film Festival, Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival, Georgia Film Festival, Black Film Fest ATL, Out On Film, Atlanta, Kingdomwood International Film Festival, Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival, Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, Atlanta Asian Film Festival, Covey Film Festival, Thomasville, Peachtree Village International Film Festival, Atlanta Greek Film Expo, Savannah Film Festival, and the Fall Line Jam.
Press release, Governor Perdue Signs Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, May 9, 2005, https://sonnyperdue.georgia.gov/00/press/detail/0%2C2668%2C78006749_79688147_93038510%2C00.html.
O.C.G.A. 48-7-40 (2010), https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-48/chapter-7/article-2/48-7-40/; See Tax Incentive Brochure in Georgia, https://www.georgia.org/sites/default/files/wp-uploads/2014/05/Tax-Brochure-Incentives-Film-Music-Digital-Entertainment-2014.pdf; See another Tax Incentive Brochure in Georgia, https://www.georgia.org/sites/default/files/2018-film-tax-incentive-brochure_0.pdf.
See sources, supra notes 1 and 11.
See short brochure about Georgia Film & Television Entertainment incentives, https://www.savannahfilm.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Georgia-30-TAX-INCENTIVE.pdf.
See sources, supra note 11.
Cassam Looch, How Georgia Overtook Hollywood to Become the Film Capital of the World, Culture Trip (Aug. 28, 2018), https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/georgia/articles/how-georgia-overtook-hollywood-to-become-the-film-capital-of-the-world/.