Georgia: The “Camera-Ready” State
Georgia bills itself as having all the right ingredients to make it one of the most attractive television and film production locations in the country. The state has built a lengthy resume of credits (see below), and, according to the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), as of 2017, it is the third most popular production state in the U.S. and the seventh most popular location in the world.
Georgia’s available tax credit of 30% is among the most generous in the country. Fortunately for the state, the return on investment buttresses its claim of having found the right combination of incentives, business-friendly environment and top-caliber local crew. According to a recent study from Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center, the cost to the state of tax incentives in a recent five-year span was approximately $925 million.
On the plus side, in 2015 alone, the economic impact of film and television production in Georgia reached $6 billion in economic development, according to Georgia’s Department of Economic Development. The entertainment industry’s direct spend in the state in the same fiscal year was $2 billion, resulting in the creation of 85,000 new jobs totaling $4.2 billion in annual wages.
Camera Ready Community Program
In 2010, the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office launched a new program called “Camera Ready Communities.” The goal of the program was to ensure that all Georgia counties had a local film-friendly liaison to assist producers and location managers. That goal was accomplished in 2014 as all 159 counties were given the Camera Ready designation. The local impact of having that label on even the most remote counties was evident in Senoia, a small city in Georgia’s Coweta County. Parts of the popular TV series The Walking Dead were filmed in Senoia, kicking off an international and national tourism boom. And now, Senoia (population 4,073 in 2015) is often cited as being to the state of Georgia what Georgia is to the U.S.
Highlights of Georgia’s Entertainment Tax Incentive Structure: Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act
- 20 percent base transferable tax credit
- 10 percent Georgia Entertainment Promotion (GEP) uplift can be earned by including an embedded Georgia logo on approved projects and a link to TourGeorgiaFilm.com on the promotional website
- $500,000 minimum spend to qualify
- No limits or caps on Georgia spend and no sunset clause
- Both resident and non-resident workers’ payrolls qualify
- No salary cap on individuals paid by 1099, personal service contract or loan-out. Payments made to a loan-out company require six percent Georgia income tax withheld
- To quality, production expenditures must be made in Georgia from a Georgia vendor
- Travel and insurance qualify if purchased through a Georgia agency or company
- Original music scoring eligible for projects produced in Georgia qualify
- Post-production of movies and television projects filmed in Georgia qualify if post-production is done in the state
Partial list of feature films produced in Georgia:
Forest Gump, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Parts 1 & 2), Taken 3, Fast 5, Fast and Furious 7, Dumb and Dumber To, Ant-Man, 42, Flight, Trouble With The Curve, Lawless, Parental Guidance, Footloose (2012).
Partial list of TV shows produced in Georgia:
The Walking Dead (AMC), The Vampire Diaries (CW), Sleepy Hollow (Fox), Devious Maids (Lifetime), Being Maryjane (BET), Archer (Season 7), Rectify (Season 3), Being Mary Jane (Season 3), Confirmation (HBO), Satisfaction (USA).