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Hall part of film industrys $7 billion impact in Georgia
Actors run through a scene at the filming site of The History Channel's "Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony" at Brenau University on July 30, 2015. The special is a docudrama about the Dare Stones, and Brenau has a unique history involving the stones. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Georgia’s film and television industry generated more than $7 billion in economic impact during the past fiscal year, according to figures announced by Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday.

Some of that impact came right here in Hall County.

The old Regions Bank in downtown Gainesville transformed into a post office in April for filming of a portion of the major motion picture “Baby Driver,” which stars Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. It was unclear if those stars were among those who filmed in Gainesville.

Nonetheless, the film set for a March 17, 2017, release is the most high-profile project to film in the old bank.

“After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail,” reads the movie’s summary.

Jon Bernthal also stars in “Baby Driver,” and the film features rising young stars Lily James, who played the title character in 2015’s “Cinderella,” and Ansel Elgort of “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Divergent.” Elgort plays the title character.

Heather Taylor, listing agent and property manager for the bank property, managed by 111 Green Street LLC, has previously lauded the film industry’s interest in the property.

“It brings a lot of attention to the building that otherwise has been sitting unused for a while,” Taylor said. “We’ve had interest from possible tenants. We appreciate the film industry.”

Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said Georgia has a great reputation in the film industry, and while much of that is centered near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the industry’s presence also extends to smaller communities like Hall County.

“We’re just thrilled to have those projects consider the community,” Evans said. “It only adds to what makes Gainesville, Hall County and Northeast Georgia a special place. It gives people another reason to come see the community.”

Two other projects filmed at the old Regions Bank earlier this year.

“Thank You for Your Service,” a movie about soldiers coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, shot a scene in the downtown Gainesville building in February. That film is being produced by Amblin Entertainment, which was founded by Steven Spielberg.

In January, the old bank was the setting for a bank robbery scene for the PlayStation Network show “Powers,” where two homicide detectives investigate people with superhuman abilities.

The History Channel also came to Brenau University in July 2015 to film part of its special “Roanoke: Search for the Lost Colony.” The production filmed scenes that pertain to the Dare Stones — a collection of historic artifacts housed at the local university.

A series of rocks chiseled with messages allegedly from the Lost Colony of Roanoke in North Carolina, the tombstone-sized relics have been in Brenau’s possession for nearly eight decades.

Deal revealed the latest numbers in a news release Tuesday, saying filmmakers spent more than $2 billion in the state making movies, television shows and commercials.

That spending created an overall impact on the state’s economy of over $7 billion in the past fiscal year, which ended June 30.

Georgia Department of Economic Development spokeswoman Lee Thomas says the figures are staggering and are the highest they’ve ever been.

Movie producers are attracted to Georgia’s big, state tax breaks for filmmakers.

Thomas says because of the increase in productions filmed here, the state is compiling a new study to compare the costs of the tax breaks with the overall economic benefits to the state.

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