Georgia film industry smashes record with $4B in spending in the last year

ATLANTA — It’s been a record setting year for the Georgia film industry as the industry spent four billion dollars making movies and TV shows in the Peach State over the past year.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of breaking the record is that it all happened during the pandemic.

Demand for filming in Georgia is booming. Some movies and TV shows are having to be filmed in the convention halls of the Georgia World Congress Center because there just isn’t enough room for them in the studios.

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Toynal Davis was one of the first actors to get back to work during the pandemic by living in quarantine at Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios.

“Masks were mandatory. Even when you’re outside of the house or outside of the building you had to wear a mask. The only time you didn’t have to wear a mask is when you were actually on set shooting,” she told Channel 2 anchor Justin Wilfon.

After a brief shutdown, studios across Atlanta were determined to find a way to resume filming, and it paid off.

Wilfon spoke with Lee Thomas, the Director of the Georgia Film Office, who credits the determination to find safe ways to work through COVID-19 for breaking the state’s record.

“Georgia was one of the first states to reopen,” she said to Wilfon. “We know that people were behind in producing the content that they needed, so we had returning shows. We had new shows. I think we were able to steal some projects from other markets that weren’t open.”

She also says there is room for growth. She says there is not currently enough studio space in Georgia for all of the movies and TV shows that want to film here.

“We’re excited that there are new stages in the works and we’re excited to being able to fill those up,” Thomas said.

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The state’s promising film industry is helped by the generous tax credits the state gives to filmmakers.

Despite the successes the tax credit has seen, there are still critics.

“It’s an extremely expensive program,” Kennesaw State University economics professor J.C. Bradbury said. “About 4% of the state’s budget is what this is equivalent to, and if you add it up per household in Georgia, it’s about 300 dollars per household in Georgia in taxes that are going to fund these tax credits.”

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Thomas says that if the state wants more record-breaking years for the film industry, those tax credits are going to have to stay.

“This is a business that’s driven by the bottom line. They run budgets to where their money is going to go furthest,” she said.

The Georgia Film Office says that at their last check, 52,000 people worked in the Georgia film industry, but those numbers are from before this most recent surge.