There seem to be a lot of mixed feelings about the film boom in Georgia so indulge me and read my perspective.
In my humble opinion, though not without its faults, the film industry is a net positive for our Georgia economy. I spent several years working as a production assistant in various departments on projects large and small. I got a firsthand look at the requirements of a production and its impact long after principle photography has wrapped. During that period, I met numerous people outside of the film industry that fell into one of three categories: the Malcontents, the Prospering and the Ambitious.
The Malcontents are made up of neighbors angry that the asshole next-door is making money blocking the street, local denizens who feel an inexplicable sense of propriety over public property, ill-informed tax payers and the would-be Prosperous who lack the initiative to figure out how to make money off this economic phenomenon.
The Prospering are those within and without the industry who have already figured out how to make this profit generator work for them. They are comprised of the writers, producers, actors, crews, realtors and local businesses who are digging the lower cost of living and doing business that Georgia provides. These people understand the difference between filming and development which is tremendous.
The Ambitious are those that recognize a good thing when they see it. They just haven’t figured out how to turn a profit off yet. These are the nice ladies I meet on a plane who own a hair salon and want to know if they can cut hair on the movies. “No,” I reply. “You’re not in the union. But, what you could do is buy a lot of product wholesale and sell it back to a movie gearing up.” Throw in delivery and remember that when they want something they want it yesterday and you’ve got a nice little side business.
These are the people I really want to help. Maybe it does take an insider’s viewpoint to know how to make the boom work for them though. A little guidance and Y’allywood can attain permanence instead of being considered a quaint joke among the LA elite. Keep in mind China is launching a huge incentive and you know that labor is cheap. Movies and TV shows are ridiculously expensive to make and there is no loyalty in the project-to-project business. If the tax credits go, so do the productions.
As far as state revenue is concerned, one has to think long term. You can’t look at the books and expect a production to be pumping money into Georgia right away. You have to look at the projected numbers. Since productions always run over budget anyway, those projections will err on the side of underestimating tax revenue.
It amazes me how few people take advantage of the free resources out there. Whether you’re a 20-something film grad trying to break into the industry or an outsider hoping to do business with a show, NETWORK. Find the groups online and go to the free events. With the mountain of responsibility and the short time frame that insiders have to do it, you need to be fresh on their mind and available if you want to get in on the action. A buyer for SetDec doesn’t have time to track down the info of that nice guy who owns a second hand furniture shop in Little 5 points, so keep business cards on you, exchange info and follow up.
On a final note, your last day of the job is the interview for the next one.
William Hollis hopes to turn his love of writing and acting into a directorial career.