How the state earned the nickname “Hollywood of the South.”
The American film industry, from the beginning, has primarily been concentrated outside the South. During the era of silent film, production in the United States was centered in New York, and once sound and dialogue could be added to the moving pictures, Hollywood began dominating the American film industry.
Today, with technological advances and new filmmakers, our movies have evolved drastically from the original Hollywood classics. As a result, production and filming have branched out beyond New York and California, allowing Georgia to become one of the newest hotspots for production and filmmaking.
Two major driving forces shifted the state into the spotlight: the positive reception of movies filmed there and its enticing resources.
This southeastern state has five distinct physiographic provinces that each contribute to the diverse ecology present throughout. Additionally, its location on the coast of the United States provides shoreside scenery as well as visuals filled with greenery. From Lookout Mountain to Okefenokee Swamp, only a few physical features cannot be found here.
Significant investments in its infrastructure and transportation as well as the talented film crews also contributed to the initial interest in creating films in Georgia.
Several critically acclaimed and otherwise successful films attracted more attention to the state by showing off what it had to offer.
Deliverance (1972) was filmed along the Chattooga River in Rabun County. This film brought such a positive economic response that then-governor Jimmy Carter established a film commission to advertise the state as a shooting location for projects in the future. The picture was awarded three Academy Awards and five Golden Globes, among others.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) featured various state highways, the town of Jonesboro.
To encourage more studios to film in the state, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation to make it cheaper to film in the state. The 2001 legislature made the film and television industry from use and sales taxes on production-related expenses.
In 2005, the General Assembly passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which offered income tax credits for filmmakers who worked in the state. The change resulted in a revenue increase of $351 million in 2006.
A revised version of the Entertainment Industry Investment Act was signed into law by then-governor, Sonny Perdue, in May 2008. This revision was much more generous as it granted production companies a 20% tax credit just for filming in Georgia. An additional 10% credit would be given if the Georgia peach logo was featured on the final product.
Georgia’s “production-friendly” tax incentives have set it apart from its state-level competition and boosted its economy. In the state’s 2020 fiscal year, film production added $2.2 billion to the state’s economy.
In addition to attracting filmmakers to the state, several film studios settled in Georgia.
Tyler Perry Studios is one of the most notable. Named after actor and writer, Tyler Perry, the 330-acre lot is one of the largest in the nation and is located on the grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base in Atlanta, Georgia. This impressive creative space includes 40 buildings, twelve purpose-built sound stages, and 200 acres of green space. Fans of the philanthropist may already be familiar with his series of movies featuring the beloved character “Madea,” but the studio is also open to other productions, like Red Notice.
Trilith Studios is enclosed on an impressive 1,000-acre lot in Atlanta, Georgia. It boasts flexible stages that can accommodate indie-style and epic films, like Spiderman: No Way Home.
Today, Georgia is rightfully known as the Hollywood of the South and has established its influence on the future of filmmaking.