Atlanta/ Fun & Entertainment
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Published on April 27, 2024
Georgia's 'Y'allywood' Aspires to Expand Film Industry Beyond Atlanta, Attracting Global Productions with Tax IncentivesSource: Unsplash/ Sam McGhee

Georgia, labeled as 'Y'allywood,' is on the brink of becoming an even larger hub for the film industry with plans to expand to new studios and attract more productions outside its capital, Atlanta. In a buzzing gathering at Eagle Rock Studios in Norcross, which drew a diverse crowd from Georgia lawmakers to film producers and creatives, the ambitions of the Southern state were put on full display. Randy Davidson, CEO of Georgia Entertainment, shared with WABE the strategy behind Atlanta's booming film sector, highlighting generous tax credits and a diversifying creative economy as the engine behind its success.

Caught in a renaissance of cultural creativity, Georgia's once lackluster entertainment sector is now a multi-billion dollar industry, according to Davidson. "What’s happened is we’ve gotten very lucky in the fact that that spending has now spun out into other disciplines of the creative economy, like music, gaming, art and fashion," he told WABE.

Productions in the state can smile at up to a 30% tax credit for on-site spending and producing films, an incentive that has brought major names like Netflix's "Stranger Things" and Disney to Georgia's plate. According to the Georgia Film Office, there are currently 43 active movies and TV shows being produced in the state.

Yet, the film tax credit's effectiveness has been contended, with a study finding the state sees only a 19-cent return for every dollar in tax savings handed to companies. However, Nikki Merritt, State Senator for District 7, maintained her support for the tax incentives. While dining in Gwinnett County's thriving restaurants, Merritt said, "I am a strong advocate for our film industry as far as what we do in the state for tax credits. I think it’s great for revenue to the state," according to a WABE report. Despite the debate, Merritt and other leaders tout the idea that more studios and talent in Georgia will only continue to benefit the local economy.

Not content with just drawing the big names, Georgia has an eye on building a robust local talent ecosystem. Davidson emphasized the importance of nurturing homegrown creativity to ensure a sustainable future for the industry. "It’s very important to me that our kids have these jobs for the future," he went on, "were never encouraged to uncap our creativity because there were no jobs here." Georgia's cinematic ambitions will be taking them to the global stage at the Cannes Film Festival in May, as the state boasts several films with Georgia connections to be screened.