By Dave Williams,Bureau Chief
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – The film industry spent $4.1 billion in Georgia during the last fiscal year, Gov. Brian Kemp announced last Wednesday.
That was below the $4.4 billion film and television productions spent in the Peach State during the previous fiscal year but above the $4. billion in direct spending the industry posted in fiscal 2021 as Georgia began to emerge from the pandemic.
“Georgia remains a global leader in film, TV, and streaming productions,” Kemp said. “Those who benefit most from the significant growth we’ve seen in this industry over the past couple of decades are hardworking Georgians who fill the many behind-the-camera jobs that come with each project. That’s why we’ve worked hard to attract these and other opportunities for those who call the Peach State home.”
Georgia was an also-ran in terms of the film industry until the General Assembly enacted a lucrative tax credit for film and TV productions back in 2008. The year before the tax credit took effect, the industry generated a comparatively paltry $135 million in direct economic impact.
Since then, production studios have sprung up across the state, including a $200 million facility in Douglasville and a $180 million studio in Forest Park, both of which began construction in fiscal 2023.
Athena Studios, a $60 million investment in Athens, opened its doors last January, while Electric Owl Studios opened the world’s first ground-up LEED Gold-certified studio campus in DeKalb County in June.
Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film Office, said some of the productions filmed locally will have an impact for decades to come.
“We know that tourists flock to Covington not only because of recent projects like ‘The Vampire Diaries’ but also because five episodes of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ were shot there four decades ago,” she said. “In just a few seasons, ‘The Walking Dead’ helped transform Senoia from six storefronts to more than 150 small businesses downtown.
“Beyond the direct spend, it may take years, even decades, to understand the complete economic impact of a project on an area.”
Gaming, esports, and other interactive entertainment projects are also part of the production growth in Georgia but are not included in the film industry’s direct spend totals.