Monday, October 19, 2009

When they get their names in lights

So the other week, I noticed a film crew at the corner of Baker and Peachtree Street. My first thought was "Cool! More stars and hit shows in Atlanta, and not just those darn Housewives!" I also hoped that the production company was paying the liquor store and restaurant next door for their time. Probably. Anyone know about things like that? And who would be coming into the liquor store at ten a.m. you ask? Believe me, people here do! I've seen plenty of folks leave with their brown paper bags as I head to my internship.

I found out that the crew was filming some footage for an in-the-works Fox show called "Past Life." It's based on the book "The Reincarnationist" by M.J. Rose, which I actually have, but for some reason or twelve, haven't gotten around to finishing. Maybe it was that weird jump in time after the main character realized he was having deja vu fo sho'. Really annoyed me, but I've decided that I will finish books before passing final judgement.

Film is big in Georgia -- like, millions big. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD, who oversees film, music and tourism happenings in the state) companies invested $521 million dollars in the GA economy, which equals $929 million dollars in economic impact to the state.

There are two hot shows being filmed in Atlanta right now -- "The Vampire Diaries" and "Drop Dead Diva." Parts of "Zombieland" filmed here as well, and word is that Robert Redford is coming to Savannah to start filming. I checked and after searching under film locations, I got back over a thousand TV and movie titles. Granted, individual TV episodes are listed, so the actual number is less. Some samples from the list include "In the Heat of the Night," to "Cape Fear" to "Driving Miss Daisy."

So why is Georgia such a great place to film? For starters, the state gives production companies up to thirty percent in tax incentives to "qualified" projects. Twenty percent is a tax credit on their investment, and the extra ten comes if the production agrees to slip in a Georgia logo in the credits. AND, productions can get immediate sales tax exemptions on certain purchases.

Georgia also has a strong network of production companies and workers. GDEcD's website writes that there are 4,000 entertainment pros and 800 production related companies in the Peach state.

But, as is often the case, I think that money is at the heart of this. In Georiga, the cheap cost of living is a draw for companies and indivduals. Land, food, gas, and other necessities are cheap relative to other large cities and states. The good weather, an extensive highway system, and the varied topography that make the state fun to explore probably create a great deal of flexibility for location scouts and film crews.


-Fox Past Life page Entertainment page

UPDATE: According to AJC's Radio and TV Talk blog, Fox has stopped production on "Past Life." This seems to be the new favorite thing of networks (remember "Southland"?). Bummer for the crew, and I know I was hoping to see more bright lights in Hotlanta. It also seems like a crappy business model to order filming and then shelf the project. If anyone has any insight into these things, I'd love to hear it!

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