By staff writer

March 2019

The entertainment industry is often very loyal to the areas that give birth to its craft. Nashville, for instance, is the birthplace of country music, while Detroit is the home of Motown. And the motion picture industry is no different.

From its black-and-white beginnings to the modern advancements of computer-generated imagery, the film and television industry centered in Hollywood, California is synonymous with all things visually entertaining. Yet recently, that industry has found new places in which to create its masterpieces.

Among the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the southern ridge of the Chattahoochee River is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas on the eastern seaboard — and a rising force in film and television. Besides a cultural heritage steeped in southern charm and the City of Atlanta’s diverse population, the area also has become a booming business and industrial zone.

With the average cost of creating a blockbuster surging to around $30 million, it’s no wonder investors are moving their projects to other places. And Atlanta has created everything from production companies and music studios to innovative educational opportunities meant to support the vibrant industry.  

Sensing the growing demand for cost-effective alternatives to the highly-taxed entertainment industries of California, Georgia took the initiative to create and pass the Entertainment Industry Investment Act in May of 2005. It gives a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend a minimum of $500,000 on production or post-production activities in Georgia — as well as an additional 10% credit if the finished project includes promotional material provided by the state.

This almost unheard-of financial nod to the entertainment industry not only has bolstered the area’s already-surging artistic vibe, but it has catapulted it to the top of the movie industry’s filming locations. In fact, in 2016 Georgia was the setting for more feature films than any other state.

The state of Georgia saw such massive growth in the film industry after the passage of the act that, in 2017, the Georgia Music Partners (GMP) successfully lobbied for a version of their own. The resulting Georgia Music Investment Act, which came into effect in January 2018, offers a tax credit equal to 15 percent of a music production company’s qualified production expenditure. While it’s too early to tell whether the act will have the same kind of ripple effect, proponents are hopeful that the music scene will follow suit.

Following the passage of these two incentives, colleges and universities have scrambled to create a workforce that’s both knowledgeable and invested in the entertainment business. Clayton State University, for example, has created several programs focused on developing behind-the-scenes talent.

Tim Hynes, president of Clayton State, said he has already seen his university’s investment in the film and music industry pay off.

“Eighty-six percent of our graduates stay within Georgia’s state lines after graduation, giving us an advantage in cultivating long-term partnerships with local film and television production companies,” he said. “From these partnerships, we’ve been able to establish scholarship programs for our film production students.”

Partly as a result of the state’s enthusiastic support of the film and music industries, Atlanta’s economic growth has been robust. In 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that the combined revenue created from these two industries produced a whopping $9.5 billion windfall in that one year alone.