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Hollywood looks at Hall for filmmaking sites

Riverside Military Academy being considered

POSTED: June 23, 2009 10:47 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

The Barracks Quadrangle at Riverside Military Academy sits behind Alumni Hall and is the center of Riverside's dormitory complex. The school's picturesque campus may be the site of a film project.

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The 1970s film "Deliverance" certainly is not the most flattering depiction of North Georgia. But despite the scary hillbilly characters, people were drawn to the beautiful scenery they saw in the movie.

"That’s probably the most famous film, like it or not, about our region," said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau. "That movie ... created a commercial industry for white-water rafting in Northeast Georgia."

With that tradition in mind, Dickson said the bureau is actively marketing Hall County as a film location.

"We’re in a very proactive mode of creating dialogue with the (state) film office on a regular basis," she said.

Over the last year, Georgia has become a top destination for filmmakers.

On May 12, 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, boosting the state tax credit for certain production and post-production expenditures by as much as 30 percent.

The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act offers a 20 percent flat tax credit based on a minimum investment of $500,000 on qualified productions in
Georgia. An additional 10 percent can be earned by including an imbedded animated Georgia logo on approved projects.

"(Georgia’s) in the top three for filmmaking right now behind Los Angeles and New York," said Stephanie Paupeck of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Paupeck said there are currently a few productions throughout the state, including the Miley Cyrus film "The Last Song," which is being shot on Tybee Island.

"In the first three and a half months of 2009, we had 11 large feature film projects land in the state, which is a 1,000 percent increase since 2008," Paupeck said.

Dickson said having parts of the Hall County featured in major motion pictures increases interest in the area after the movie hits theatres.

"Once the movie comes out, that’s when the tourism aspect kicks in because we have the residual effect of being able to say movie XYZ was filmed here," Dickson said. "Think about Forrest Gump on the bench in the park in Savannah. That was a set. There wasn’t a bench, but the city of Savannah had to install a bench because so many people came to Savannah wanting to get their picture on that bench."

Filming also brings revenue to the area. Crews rent hotel rooms, eat at restaurants and use other services, all of which boost county revenue.

Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville is one of two locations being considered by 20th Century Fox for an upcoming film.

"They’re also scouting locations for a remake of a very popular ’80s movie in our area, so we’re really excited about that," Dickson said.

One of the ways the convention and visitors bureau markets the county is through a Web site called reel-scout.com, which provides filmmakers with a database of locations.

Dickson said anyone can send the convention and visitors bureau photographs of places they believe might interest filmmakers, such as churches, homes and barns to upload on the site.

Dickson said though Hall County has many big attractions, filmmakers are often looking for a variety of settings.

"It’s all over the board and it’s not necessarily what you would think," Dickson said. "Obviously we have so many beautiful scenic places all over Hall County ... but they also are looking for kind of out of the way things like a roadside fruit stand."



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