Five Reasons Why Film is Here to Stay in Georgia

By Barton Bond, director, Clayton State University Film and Digital Media Center

Nearly every week, press and internet media sites feature stories about film projects happening or coming to Georgia. While the glamor of Hollywood is interesting, a bigger story is that there are five reasons for the film industry will remain a major long-term aspect of the state’s culture and economy.

Number One. Incentives.
Georgia has one of the best film incentive programs in the country by several measures. The program features a 20 percent tax rebate for productions shot in the state with an additional 10 percent available for projects that include the Georgia “Peach State” logo in its credits. The film business site Film Production Capital rates Georgia one of only two five star states among almost 40 states with film incentives. While California and New York are number one and two in the country, “the real battle is for number three,” according to Brian Livesey, CEO of Atlanta Metro Studios, which is currently building a sound stage complex in Union City.

Number Two. Stability.
Not only does Georgia have a strong incentive program, but also it is well known in the film industry as being stable. Like all other businesses, film seeks stability with regard to economic development climate, government regulation, related infrastructure, and private sector support. While a few other states have recently expanded film incentives, many other states have reduced, are considering reducing, or even virtually eliminated incentives. At the same time, there has been serious discussion and even legislative consideration of expanding incentives in Georgia.

Number Three. Infrastructure and Development.
Studios and related businesses are being constructed, moving from other states or expanding. In a Feb. 10, 2015 press release, Fonu2, a production and social commerce company that recently purchased a studio complex in Savannah noted that:

“Georgia is number one in growth for the movie industry, with a major shortage of available sound stages due to the massive demand in the state.”

This growth means that more productions can be shot in the state at the same time, and for longer. Those productions will also make use of location sites, expanding the economic impact to many areas.

At Clayton State, “The Vampire Diaries” and “Michelle Darnell” have shot over the past five months and the University has been scouted for two other projects. In addition, Clayton State opened a 10,000 square foot sound stage in May, which will be used for teaching as well as a shooting space for smaller productions.

Number Four. Trained Workforce.
Georgia is one of only two states that have developed a centralized crew training system in its higher education system.  Support for the Georgia Film Academy started with Governor Nathan Deal and is being facilitated through the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. While other states may have more financially lucrative incentives, if a production has to import labor, much of the impact of the incentives is negated.

Having sufficient trained workers is a very important aspect of shooting a film, as productions are very labor intensive. Clayton State currently offers the only non-credit comprehensive film crew training program in the country. Because it is non-credit, the six-month program does not require a high school diploma or GED for admission, and is therefore well-suited for young people who are not necessarily college-bound as well as for adults who are changing careers. 

Number 5. Location. Location. Location.
Georgia has a number of indigenous features that make it attractive for film production. First on that list would be Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with several non-stop flights to Los Angeles every day. This level of service and flexibility is a very big deal for producers and other Hollywood based professionals. And Georgia has abundant shooting locations from urban, big modern city to older Americana architecture and small town features, forests, lakes, rivers, beaches, rural areas, industrial and manufacturing sites, major league sports and motor sports facilities, etc. Even a major freeway that can be closed for filming (“Fast and Furious 7”), which would-be very difficult and expensive on Los Angeles.

For all these reasons, the prognosis for the continued presence and strong growth of the film industry is excellent. Georgia residents who can be trained to work in film can look forward to a strong potential for long-term industry employment. And businesses that can grow and adapt to serve the needs of the industry will likely have a lucrative client base for many years.

About Film Training at Clayton State University

Clayton State University offers the only dedicated film crew training program in the state and one of only two in the nation. The six-month program has a track record of putting students into the film union as well as helping others establish themselves as independent business persons in film-related businesses. For information about the program, go to or call (678) 466-5085.

In August 2015, Clayton State will roll out its newest academic program, the B.A. in Film Production, which emphasizes post-production. The program will also include content relating to pre-production and production, and the post-production focus will help students attain skills in; storytelling, compositing, editing, special effects, motion graphics, and sound effects. For more information, complete the form below.

On the graduate program level, the Clayton State MBA program offers a Sports and Entertainment Management concentration that includes classes on entertainment marketing, the economics of entertainment industry, and the legal issues surrounding entertainment. For more information, complete the form below or visit

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