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Hall ready for Hollywood cameras, stars
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Hall County is one of the first communities in the state to be designated a “camera ready community” — a title that will hopefully bring in film and TV crews for years to come.

“We’re the only county in Northeast Georgia that’s gotten this designation,” Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau President Stacey Dickson said. “We’re lucky to make the first cut.”

Dickson said the entertainment industry will be a huge boost to tourism in Hall County.

“We’d love to have principal photography on a motion picture or a television series that would be filmed on an ongoing basis,” Dickson said. “That’s where the residual effect is for our community.”

Though “The Dukes of Hazard” was filmed over 20 years ago in Covington, people still stop by the visitors center wanting to see where the show was shot, Dickson said.

Fifteen other counties from across the state, including Fulton, Lowndes and Chatham, have made preparations that will assist film crews and make filming in their counties convenient.

The camera ready counties submitted local contacts for public safety, power, water and other things production companies need. They also designated individuals within the community to act as liaisons for the Georgia Film Office.

“Today was the launch of the first 16 counties but we want all 159 of them in there,” said Lee Thomas, director of the film division for the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office.

In May, 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.

“We’ve really seen our level of business since 2008 take off,” Thomas said. “In 2007 we had an economic impact for the state in the neighborhood of $240 million. By fiscal year 2010 we were at $1.3 billion, so it’s really worked well.”

Georgia’s tax incentives have boosted the state into the top five states in the nation for TV and film production.

“Because we have a temperate climate, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, and because we have a strong crew base and a strong equipment base, the whole package together does make us one of the top states to film in right now,” Thomas said.

Dickson said there are potential filming locations in every corner of the state.

“It’s not just a metro-Atlanta benefit. Right now in Habersham (County), our neighbor to the north, they are filming a motion picture with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. Principal photography is in Clarkesville,” Dickson said. “That opportunity probably never would have come to Habersham or anywhere in Georgia without the film incentive.”

And Hall County is already on Hollywood’s radar.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest in filming on Lake Lanier,” Dickson said. “We actually have a film scouting this weekend.”
Hall County has a variety of landscapes and architecture that have the potential for movie magic.
Natural settings such as the hilly pastoral regions of North Hall and Lake Lanier are of interest as well as old industrial sites and homes, barns and churches.

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