Lights, Camera, Atlanta!

The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia

By Daniel Means [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta is a hot destination for filming, I’ve heard.  I see evidence of that in my neighborhood and just outside the College of Law!  Just this weekend, Bambino Films blocked off Auditorium Place for filming the upcoming Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx film “Baby Driver” by the M Deck and around campus.

Recent productions around Atlanta have included the last “Fast and Furious” movie, the “Hunger Games” series, “The Walking Dead,” “Selma,” and “Anchorman 2.”  Of course, Tyler Perry Studios in Southwest Atlanta has produced a number of movies, not just the popular Madea series.

How is all this made possible?  In part because the State of Georgia provides a great deal of support for film and tv production.  In fact, we have a state office (the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Guide Office) dedicated to helping producers bring their vision to reality.  The office maintains a database of property that people have submitted to serve as a film location, hosts an online directory of Georgia crew and production services, and links productions to local business and industry leaders.

Perhaps more important are the tax benefits of filming in Georgia.  There is a flat tax credit of 20% of the cost of production (minimum investment of $500,000) for qualified productions in Georgia.

How to find out the benefits (and costs) of filming in Georgia?  Easy!

First, check the statutes—state tax credits will be covered in state law. A quick search of the Official Code of Georgia turns up Section 48-7-40.26, the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act.  Check the annotations in an annotated code, and you might find “Lights, Camera, Action…Incentives,” by Kevin Potter, an article published in the Journal of Multistate Taxation and Incentives, describing the impact of the entertainment industry on local economy, as well as explains the Georgia tax incentive—as well as those of select other states.

To fully understand the processes involved, it’s critical to check the regulations.  Again, the annotated code provides some indication of where to begin that search.  The Georgia Department of Economic Development, Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Division, wrote the regulations for the application and qualification process for the Film Tax Credit under the Act.  The Department of Economic Development regulations are found at section 159-1-1.01 and following in the Georgia Compilation of Rules and Regulations.  The Georgia Department of Revenue is responsible for administering the tax credits.  Those regulations are found at section 560-7-8-.45 of the Georgia Compilation of Rules and Regulations.

What other costs could there be?  Don’t forget that a permit is necessary in many cases!  To find the rules for permits, check the city or county website.  In Atlanta, the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment provides support and guidance for production companies working through the permitting process.  Of course, if you want the rules underlying a posted permit fee schedule, you should check for city or county ordinances.  In the case of Atlanta, Chapter 46, Article IV of the municipal code governs entertainment filming.

To recap, state statutes governing tax credits provide an incentive, while state regulations provide further explanation of how to apply the tax credit.  Secondary sources explain the function of the tax credits in the economy and compare Georgia with other jurisdictions.  Local ordinances govern the permitting process, setting forth the requirements that production companies must follow to actually film a movie in my neighborhood or on campus.

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