By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
January 18, 2018
Location, location, location; that’s what representatives from the Putnam Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce and Tytan Pictures learned was needed in the film industry during a recent visit to the state economic department’s entertainment division.
As Eatonton, Putnam County and all of Georgia begin to tap into the film industry, the PDA contacted GDEcD film specialists for suggestions about how local officials can attract film producers to Putnam County as well as prepare to accommodate what was once a predominantly west coast industry.
According to Craig Dominey, Camera Ready Program Manager and Senior Location Specialist, Georgia’s film commission was founded in the 70s by then-governor and former President Jimmy Carter – making it the oldest in the world.
Dominey, who has been in the state office for 20 years, said it is not unusual to have 40 productions on the ground in Georgia at one time.
“Our job is to bring film to the whole state, and with the volume of production coming, no one area can handle all of it,” said Dominey, while pointing to a film crew outside the 12th story window shooting the remake of the popular 80s primetime soap opera “Dynasty.”
Dominey said Georgia is one of the top three shooting locations in the U.S. right now, with the majority of the 2017 blockbusters shot in the state.
“Marvel had a lot to do with that,” he noted.
So do Georgia’s aggressive new incentives for attracting moviemakers. According to GDEcD, in 2015 alone, Georgia-lensed feature films and television productions generated an economic impact of $6 billion. Qualifying productions receive a 20 percent tax credit, plus an additional 10 percent credit for embedding a Georgia promotional logo in the film title or credits.
Another incentive the state offers is the Camera Ready program, a free service that provides trained liaisons to help with scouting, permitting and other production needs.
“Georgia has great tax incentives,” said Dominey. “But they (film producers) have to find locations.
When filming, the scenes must be shot with different landscapes and in different time periods, so we need locations,” Dominey said as he explained the concept of the Camera Ready program, which includes every county in the state.
The only program of its kind in the country, Camera Ready was launched in 2010 to ensure that Georgia counties each had a local film-friendly contact to assist producers and location managers. Putnam County’s liaison is Tourism and Special Events Coordinator Kaitlyn Parham.
“There were six people in a state with 159 counties who couldn’t be everywhere at once,” said Dominey. “So we created the Camera Ready program and certified blocks of camera-ready communities. Now, Georgia has 161 camera-ready communities. Fulton County has a few because of its metropolitan environment.”
Explaining their procedure, Dominey said, “They send us a script, we read it, break it down and find locations; then we send out an e-blast to all those liaisons and see what they can do.”
Operating a database of about 7,000 cities, called Reel-Crew, the state entertainment office pulls locations and other specifications matching their needs from the website and submits an email package with those options to producers.
The next step is the film company sending an advanced team to Georgia, including production and design teams, who are then taken around to view the locations.
“If they accept, they open an office and find a crew in that area,” said Dominey. “We are here to assist in the beginning, then we turn it over to them.”
GDEcD also has a public link on its Reel-Crew website, www.reel-scout. com, where homeowners can submit their own photographs of camera-ready locations. Those submissions would go into the County database where the property is located.
Dominey advised contact information on the property owners must be submitted with the photographs so that the site can be verified as camera-ready.
“We don’t want to bring a director from Hollywood and get chased off with a shotgun,” he said, noting the owners must give their permission for a film to be shot on their property. “Make sure the property is camera-ready.”
Filmmakers do not want altered pictures, Dominey advised.
“Tourism is about pretty stuff, we want to see reality,” he said.
“People all over the world are looking at Georgia now,” Tytan CEO Jim Stone noted. “There are so many great places to shoot in Putnam County that should be added to the database. Tytan plans to do one or two films a year, but we want to bring in others.”
Dominey said that a lot of production companies were considering Georgia because of the tax incentives. “They show up and say, ‘OK, where do we set up,’ he said. “The locations are going to be the driver. Get us your locations.”