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Georgia offers juicy tax credits

New deal applies to video games, other media

Georgia is seeking to reclaim its position as a major film production locale with the 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which Gov. Sonny Perdue signed last month.

The ceremony was held at the Turner Broadcasting System studios, where the governor was joined by TBS chairman-CEO Phil Kent; state Sen. Greg Goggans, who carried the legislation in the Senate; and state Reps. Ron Stephens and Rich Golick.

“We know that our excellent talent base and outstanding locations make Georgia a very desirable place to film,” said Perdue. “This legislation puts in place the economic cornerstone that will encourage producers to convert that desire into action.”

The act offers a 20% tax credit with a $500,000 annual minimum spend and applies to videogame productions in addition to film, TV, commercials and musicvids. The state has devised its own product placement by offering an additional 10% tax credit to productions including an animated Georgia promotional logo within the finished product.

“Georgia is one of the few states whose entertainment incentives support the videogame industry, and we’re the only commission that has a dedicated videogame business development person,” said Bill Thompson, deputy commissioner of the Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, a division of Georgia Dept. of Economic Development.

Georgia’s vidgame industry has grown exponentially since 2005, with more than 50 vidgame companies in operation generating a three-year economic impact of $180 million.

Film and TV, however, remain the state’s showbiz focus.

“This new incentive allows Georgia to once again compete for an industry we used to be famous for,” state Sen. Mitch Seabaugh said.

Georgia considers Louisiana and North and South Carolina its biggest competitors for film productions.

Georgia boasts diverse locales, with 150 miles of coastline and over 100 barrier islands, in addition to its mountains, lakes, rivers, marsh and swamplands as well as urban looks.

The state has seen success in the past with competitive incentives. The 2005 Entertainment Industry Investment Act, signed by Gov. Perdue in 2005, led to a record-setting economic impact in 2006 when film, TV and vidgame companies contributed a hefty $475 million to Georgia’s economy, up from $124 million in 2004.

But while the state’s economy reaped a substantial $1.3 billion in production revenue from 2005-07, Georgia witnessed a recent decline in film activity as other states, regions and countries boosted their competitive packages.

The state’s music industry continues to thrive, generating nearly $2 billion annually.

The Location Managers Guild of America has announced the results of its annual officer elections. The 2008-09 officers are Dave Berthiaume, president; Lori Balton, first VP; Stevie Nelson, second VP; Kim Crabb, secretary; and Carole Segal, treasurer.

Balton and Segal return in their respective positions, while Berthiaume was upped from VP. Crabb is new to the board, while Nelson, who served on the prior board, did not hold office.

“The board has worked diligently for four years to build the LMGA into a solid, stable organization of location professionals and supporters,” said Kayla Thames-Berge, who is exiting after three years as president. “I am confident we have accomplished for the guild what good location professionals do, which is to leave the scene better than we found it and set the next crew up for success.”

The guild, which has members across the U.S. and has begun to expand internationally, plans to mount its first national project in 2009.

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