Roll Camera

New state act aims to lure more entertainment production to Georgia

While many cities and states offer special incentives such as tax breaks to lure  film and television production to their locale, Georgia claims to now offer the best deal around. Gov. Sonny Perdue recently signed into law the 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act. The new legislation is designed to encourage entertainment industry productions in the Peach State.

While Georgia passed a similar bill in 2005, the new act differs in that it offers more competitive incentives, Thompson says. The new provisions will replace those currently in use by offering a 20% tax credit for qualified productions, which are then eligible for an additional 10% tax credit if they include an animated Georgia promotional logo within the finished product.

These incentives apply to qualified films, TV series, commercials, music videos, and video games. Bill Thompson, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music, & Digital Entertainment Office, points out that the state will be the most competitive state in the country for video game productions. In fact, Georgia is one of a handful of states whose entertainment incentives support the video game industry.

In 2007, entertainment segments generated $413 million in Georgia. In all, the total economic impact of entertainment productions from 2005 to 2007 was more than $1.17 billion, due in large part to Georgia’s entertainment incentives, Thompson says.

L.A.-based film producer Erika Conner, who was co-producer for Idlewild, says such incentives would make her consider Georgia as a production locale. “Georgia’s new ’08 act certainly makes me rethink shooting in the state of Georgia. I’m ready to get started,” says Conner, whose next project in development is based on the Iceberg Slim novel Mama Black Widow and will feature Mos Def, Rihanna, and Kerry Washington.

Many African American producers have already set up shop in Georgia, including Tyler Perry.

“Governor Perdue has made it comfortable for us producers to reconsider the Peach,” Conner says.

Georgia has been investing in the entertainment industry for more than 35 years. In 1973, it formed the Georgia Film Commission, and since then 575-plus feature films, independent movies, television series and pilots, and TV movies were filmed in the state, contributing more than $5 billion to the state’s economy.

Georgia isn’t the only state on the minds of Hollywood producers. The Big Apple also offers special tax production credits. New York, which recently drew The Tyra Banks Show and Ugly Betty, has expanded its tax credits for film production. Also, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Louisiana, North Carolina, Illinois, and Hawaii feature some form of tax breaks.

While Georgia wants to attract a diverse range of filmmakers to the state, Conner believes the new tax incentives will attract filmmakers of color. “It’s important for [African Americans in production] to take advantage of this new [bill] as our budgets are always on a budget. Therefore a tax break only works in our favor,” she says. “And so many actors and production crews are happy to work in Georgia, as they feel it’s not in the boondocks when on location for months. I’m excited

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