Proposed legislation could jeopardize Georgia’s film industry

Proposed legislation could jeopardize Georgia’s film industry
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 2:56 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Georgia is one of the most popular states in the country for television and movie production. This is thanks, in part, to the state’s tax credit. But changes could be on the way as lawmakers could decide to cap tax breaks for film companies, which could have a big impact here in the Fountain City.

Many people refer to Georgia as ‘East Coast Hollywood.’ Film production is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Peach State with Columbus being a top film location in Georgia.

News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams talked with a Columbus State University professor to get some insight on how this proposed legislation could effect students seeking a career in film.

“For students here at CSU, this would have a detrimental impact on their future and staying here in Georgia,” Assistant Professor at CSU, Adam Bova, explained.

Bova works in CSU’s Communication Department, teaching film and integrated media. He has witnessed first-hand the importance of tax breaks to Georgia’s film industry.

“I’ve been in other states that have limited their tax breaks, and the film industry doesn’t thrive as much as it does here in Georgia,” Bova said.

Columbus has been a location where several big-budget movies have been produced. You may remember the Fountain City’s presences in these movies: “Need for Speed,” “Fighting Temptations” and “Survivor of the Night” to name a few.

Visit Columbus Ga CEO and President Peter Bowden explained why Georgia has been so attractive to film makers.

“Even though as a consumer, we all think of film as entertainment, but it’s a business,” Bowden told us. “Filmmakers are always looking for as destination, in this case Georgia, that they can do it efficiently, cheaply and still have a high return on revenue.”

If this bill passes the Senate, Georgia’s economic impact as a whole will also take a big hit. Bova explained the influence stretches farther than profits from actors, producers and other work in film: “It’s the hotel rooms, caterers, local restaurants, the local mom and pop stores that people run into to get props.”

As for CSU students seeking careers in film: “Students here in Columbus who are thinking about starting families and staying here to contribute to our community here, they will have to leave the state and go where those film jobs wind up landing,” Bova said.

Bowden with Visit Columbus told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams that the current film tax credit is heavily audited. He said he would like to see more committees review with Georgia film experts before changing the tax credit.

Just this past Friday, the film “The Greatest Inheritance” premiered, which was filmed entirely in Midland during the height of the pandemic. Many more movies are slated to be filmed in our area in the next year.

We do want to provide an editorial note. Our parent company, Gray Television, is currently constructing a number of production studios in Doraville, just outside of Atlanta. Gray did receive tax incentives from DeKalb County for the facility, but the company did not receive the statewide credits currently being debated by state lawmakers.

Count on News Leader 9 to continue to follow this bill and let you know what Georgia lawmakers decide.

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