Georgia: A Hub for Film and TV Production
Galvanized by a program of generous tax credits, Georgia has become one of the busiest film and television production centers in the country, with the state capital of Atlanta being frequently ranked as the busiest production city in the entire world.
The state has much to offer that will allow it to retain those distinctions. To begin with, Georgia has eleven large studio complexes, including Pinewood Atlanta, EUE Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios, with more under construction. Together, these existing facilities contain over seventy-five soundstages, including the largest purpose-built soundstage in North America, Atlanta Metro Studios’ 80,000 square-foot Mega Stage, as well as standing sets, backlots, office space, mills and support facilities. In all, Georgia now has 1.1 million square feet of purpose-built and 1.2 million square feet of retrofitted soundstage space. Most of these studio complexes are located in or close to Atlanta and so are just a short distance from Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, first-rate accommodations and fine dining. The state also has many smaller facilities, as well as numerous warehouses and warehouse complexes that can be converted into soundstage space with relative ease, if needed.
Georgia is also home to a deep and skilled crew base to staff productions in all areas, as well as extensive support services. The state offers a wide variety of topography and environments for location shooting, from mountains and plains to swampland and seashores to rural farmland and dense urban landscapes. There are lakes, rivers, big cities, rural hamlets, modern suburban housing tracts, mansions, period structures, period villages, a castle and even a Hindu temple. Georgia has an annual average temperature of 63.2 °F with an average high temperature of 74.9 °F and an average low temperature of 51.4 °F. It has 110 days of clear skies, 107 days of partly cloudy skies, and 148 annual cloudy days a year and an annual precipitation rate of 50.80 inches.
The tax credits that have so energized film and television production in the Peach State were put in place by the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which was signed into law in 2008. Georgia offers a transferable tax credit equal to up to 30 percent of qualified expenditures. Twenty percent is earned on qualifying expenditures and an additional ten percent uplift may be earned on all qualifying expenditures if the production includes a qualified “Georgia promotion” in the end credits, which for features is a five-second long logo that promotes the state in the end credits before the below-the-line crew crawl, as well as a link to Georgia on the movie’s website. Most types of productions qualify including feature films, television series, animation, commercials, documentaries, talk shows, reality programs, music videos and webisodes. The only exemptions are trailers, corporate training videos, infomercials, interactive websites, news and sporting events. The program does not have an annual state funding cap, per-project incentive cap or sunset date.
On August 4, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law H.B. 1037. Among other modifications, the law makes the following amendments to the incentive program:
- For all projects initially approved by the Film Office after December 31, 2020, the issuance of the 10 percent “Georgia promotion” uplift is delayed until the project has been commercially distributed in multiple markets. As a result, it may take producers longer to recover the entire 30 percent incentive offered.
- Currently, an audit is not required, however, productions could participate in a voluntary audit program conducted on a first-come, first-served basis by Georgia’s Department of Revenue. Under the new legislation, audits will become mandatory and will be phased in over a three-year period depending on the total amount of the estimated tax credit.
Savannah Rebate Program
In addition to the state incentive program, the City of Savannah offers a rebate equal to 10 percent of qualified local spend and below-the-line resident labor for features, television series, and direct-to-streaming series that shoot at least 50 percent of principal photography days within 60 miles of Savannah’s City Hall and that meet the minimum spend, episodic and budget requirements. Programs that do not qualify for the Savannah incentive program include animation, commercials, music videos, reality programs, documentaries, game shows, talk shows and infomercials. There is a program funding cap of $1.3 million per calendar year and a per-project cap of $100,000 for a feature film or TV pilot and $250,000 per calendar year for a qualifying television or internet-distributed episodic production. The incentive is payable upon completion of the production and an audit provided by a local CPA firm which is paid for by the Savannah Economic Development Authority. An applicant can qualify only once per year unless the production budget exceeds $15 million. SEDA also offers an incentive of $2,000 per household for experienced crew (workers with at least five years of verifiable experience) to relocate to Savannah.
Recent Projects Filmed in Georgia:
Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Godzilla: King of Monsters, Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. TV shows: Stranger Things, Ozark, The Walking Dead, MacGyver, and Family Feud.
Georgia Coronavirus Tax Relief FAQ