The Georgia Film Office, a division of the Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), today celebrated with legislators and industry partners the positive impact and record-breaking year the film industry had in the state at the annual Film Day at the Capitol. Georgia is one of the top film production centers in the world, and the industry posted a record $2.9 billion in direct investment during the last fiscal year.
The Georgia Film Office also announced the launch of the new Georgia FilmWorks website, which uses personal stories to highlight the contributions the industry has made on the lives of Georgians, small businesses and communities. The new website can be found at: www.georgia.org/FilmWorks.
Featured speakers recognizing “Georgia’s Film Industry: Real Stories: Reel Success.,” included Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker of the House David Ralston, Georgia Film Academy Executive Director Jeffrey Stepakoff, small business owners and other film industry professionals, along with GDEcD Chief Operating Officer Bert Brantley.
“In addition to bringing worldwide audiences to Georgia again in 2019, we also saw a record-breaking $2.9 billion spent right here in our state – and that is economic development in action,” said GDEcD Chief Operating Officer Bert Brantley.
“We also understand that in an industry of stories, it’s the personal experiences that really help tell the tale of how film has helped Georgia,” Brantley continued. “Whether it’s the production that has spurred new investment in a local community, the small business that has expanded to better serve the industry, or the Georgian who has obtained professional training to become a crewmember on set, these are the stories we’re featuring on our new website to share how Georgia Film Works!”
A video featuring Georgians whose lives and businesses have improved thanks to the industry was aired to kick off the event. It can be viewed online here.
Governor Kemp, Lt. Gov. Duncan and Speaker Ralston each thanked the hardworking professionals who have shaped the industry’s success and provided a reliable workforce for every step of the production process. They also recognized the importance of the workforce pipeline necessary to keep the industry growing, including the groundbreaking Georgia Film Academy, which is a collaborative effort of the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia.
Georgia Film Academy Executive Director Jeffrey Stepakoff today announced that the academy will have more than 7,000 student enrollments from over 20 partner institutions across Georgia. The academy is also starting new professional graduate programs for Georgia filmmakers and content creators, starting with the new University of Georgia-Georgia Film Academy-Pinewood Atlanta joint Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) program, which starts this fall. Stepakoff called the academy the state’s “Entertainment Arts Conservatory.”
“From Savannah to Dalton to Athens, from Gainesville to Griffin to Gwinnett County, we are proud to build a business that belongs to all of Georgia,” said Stepakoff. “Never in the history of filmed entertainment has there been a story like Georgia’s. What has happened here, and the pace at which has happened, is unprecedented.”
Stepakoff also spoke of the future of the industry, “where small entrepreneurial businesses thrive, and where a hardworking Georgian never has to leave our great state to pursue any kind of career or dream in this industry.”
Toccoa Stephens County Chamber of Commerce President Julie Paysen, who is also the Camera Ready Specialist who helps place film production in the area, discussed the increase in filming thanks to community partnership. The area has seen six film productions in recent years, and a seventh is slated to begin soon.
Cobb County-based Assistant Location Manager Travell Blake also shared film’s positive impact on his life and area of the state. He has worked on more than 34 projects and now earns a steady income to support his young family, with plenty of new projects ahead to apply his knowledge.
Small Business Owner Rick Harris of Harris Diversified in Paulding County said he began his business in 2003, growing from a supply of two air conditioners to more than 200 today. He reported exponential growth of his entire product rental supply, and that his company has supported more than 400 feature productions in Georgia.
No other film production center has seen more growth in film and television infrastructure over the past decade than Georgia. Direct spending alone by the film industry grew by 4,000% from 2007 through 2018. In fiscal year 2019, 391 productions filmed in Georgia represented by 26 feature films, 31 independent films, 214 television series, 91 commercials and 29 music videos.