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Georgia, Hall popular setting for film location scouts

Hollywood productions bring home $5.1B

POSTED: August 11, 2014 1:22 a.m.

From “Goosebumps” to “Hard Knocks,” Hall County and the state of Georgia are setting the stage for Hollywood’s pursuits year-round, putting $5.1 billion in the Georgia economy.

In 158 productions for film and television this past fiscal year, $1.4 billion was spent for various productions, according to a release from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office. Competitive tax credits for production teams have continued to lure crews back to Georgia.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of new infrastructure come in as a result of the film tax credit,” said Lee Thomas, Georgia Department of Economic Development’s entertainment division deputy commissioner. “Over 90 new companies in addition to 11 new soundstages, and none of those people get the tax credit. Those are just benefits to the state, and they’re here due to the level of business.”

The tax credit in place allows a 20 percent base tax credit for productions spending at least $500,000 in Georgia during a single fiscal year. An additional 10 percent can be earned if the animated Georgia logo appears in the credits and a link to the Georgia film website.

Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, said exact numbers for Hall County are difficult to pinpoint. No data is available through the state office for individual cities or counties, Dickson said.

The film “Blended” was shot in Gainesville and Flowery Branch and has grossed $117 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. With productions filming in the area, residents like Tim Evans of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce have their own brushes with celebrity.

“I remember not long ago, we were having dinner with one of our existing expanding industries down in Flowery Branch, and Adam Sandler and his wife were having dinner on the porch,” said Evans, who serves as the vice president of economic development. “Ironically, the company we were with was from California and even though they were headquartered not too far from Hollywood in Los Angeles, they had never seen Adam Sandler. They had to come to Georgia to see him.”

Dawsonville Highway and surrounding roads endured delays two weeks ago when “Goosebumps,” a film starring Jack Black and based on R.L. Stine’s books, came to town. The Atlanta Falcons, who practice in Flowery Branch, were chronicled on HBO in the Aug. 5 debut of “Hard Knocks.”

With the state serving as a backdrop, it creates lasting effects for tourism and business, Evans said.

“I think it adds a lot for us as a community and for the state to have Georgia being put front and center in front of so many people around the world,” he said. “You can think about films over the years that made a real contribution like ‘Forrest Gump’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ years and years ago, but there’s a whole new generation of films and shows being shot in Georgia.”

Popular movies like “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” have been shot in cities statewide from St. Simons Island to Marietta. Thomas said the amenities in Georgia, along with the tax credits, provide a quality film setting for return customers.

“We have a tremendous amount of people that come here over and over again. We have producers that have shot here nine and 10 times,” she said. “It’s because we do have a good tax incentive, but we also have diverse locations and ease of access to Hartsfield-Jackson (airport) and great quality of life.”



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