M aybe Georgia should change its moniker from Peach State to Incentives State.
“I’ve shot seven shows in Atlanta since ’01 and scouted many more,” says veteran producer Tim Bourne. “Why? Simple. Because of the tax incentives. It’s the reality of filmmaking today.”
He cites the state’s aggressive flat tax credit of 20%, with another 10% for including the state logo in the end credits. Bourne’s two most recent Atlanta-based projects are “Joyful Noise” starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, and the remake of “Footloose” starring Dennis Quaid and Julianne Hough.
Both “benefited greatly” from those breaks, he says.
But it’s more than just incentives that have lured him to Georgia. “You always need a strong crew base, which they have, and you also consider the topographical issues in the script, and hopefully they align,” he adds, “although often it doesn’t even matter as the money overshadows everything.”
Still, he says, “Georgia offers an amazing variety of scenery and locations; they have mountains, oceans and islands, farmland, urban and cityscapes. On ‘Footloose’ we were based out of Atlanta and then shot in surrounding rural areas very easily.”
Bourne also cites Atlanta’s long history of production going back to “In the Heat of the Night,” its infrastructure, and easy accessibility thanks to its Delta hub.
Underscoring Georgia’s growing presence in the production world, Panavision recently opened an office in Atlanta.
Josh Berman, exec producer and creator of Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” reports that incentives were the initial key attraction for shooting in the Peach State.
“I believe we were the first show to go to Atlanta for the tax breaks,” he says. But other factors have also kept the show — which is currently shooting its third season — in Georgia. “We actually shoot in Peachtree City, about 30 minutes outside Atlanta, where we not only have a huge amount of space but the best stages I’ve ever worked on — and that includes doing ‘CSI’ for six years and ‘Bones’ for four,” says Berman.
Other important factors for Berman: “Labor’s cheap, we have two stage complexes, and our own backlot — which almost no show in L.A. can afford — with a courthouse, a federal building and an outdoor restaurant.”
Berman also cites Georgia’s high visual quality per dollar spent. “People tend to think of cable shows as not having the same production value as network shows, but I’d say ours is even better as we can invest so much in our infrastructure.”
He also cites “a great local talent base” which happens to get tapped regularly by two other Georgia-based shows, “Teen Wolf” and “Vampire Diaries.”
“Between us, we employ people on a year-round basis,” Berman says.
Peach State retools for film, TV biz | Tax credits add to Georgia’s strengths | Scouts sound off