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Film and TV productions spent $4.4 billion in Georgia in fiscal 2022, a new record for the industry, according to The Georgia Film Office.
The Office, which sits within the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the state hosted 412 productions — 32 feature films, 36 independent films, 269 television and episodic productions, 42 commercials and 33 music videos between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, when its fiscal year ended.
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“When the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia Made productions to eager consumers all around the world – even when some states continued to stay shut down and stifle the industry’s return to normalcy. Because of this partnership approach and the resiliency of our state’s film and television infrastructure, which state and local economic development officials have been working for almost fifty years to build, we are once again celebrating incredible growth and investment from industry leaders.”
Studios and support service companies provide additional infrastructure and jobs not included in productions’ direct spends.
“In addition to providing production jobs that range across a variety of skills from accounting to carpentry to engineering and graphic design, productions are using local vendors, eating at Georgia restaurants, and staying in our hotels,” Kemp said. “We’re proud to be training more Georgians to be decision-makers in film and television production, keeping their talents in our state, and we look forward to this industry’s continued success in the Peach State!”
Georgia production and the infrastructure to support it has surged over the last 15 years to due generous tax credits. Georgia-lensed productions include top grossing Spider-Man: No Way Home, Avengers: Endgame, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Streaming episodic and limited-series programming including Season Four of Netflix’s Stranger Things and Ozark, HBO Max’s The Staircase, Disney+’s Loki and FX’ Atlanta, as well as The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime and The Wonder Years on ABC.
Studio space has been expanding, including Trilith Studios (the former Pinewood Atlanta Studios) in Fayetteville. During the year, Cinelease Studios-Three Ring broke ground on a $144-million studio expansion in Covington and Electric Owl Studios broke ground on a 17-acre site in the city of Stone Mountain with Capstone South Properties and Domain Capital Group. Soundstage operator Shadowbox Studios (formerly Blackhall Studios) announced a strategic $500 million investment from tech investor Silver Lake to help fund existing development projects in Atlanta (and elsewhere).
Film and TV production jobs and tax incentives are significant in the state. In March, a legislative proposal to cap tax credits at $900 million a year and ban film companies from selling the credits to third parties was backed by Georgia’s Senate Finance Committee one day and off the table the next.
One cloud: a federal appeals court ruled last month that Georgia’s restrictive 2019 abortion law should be allowed to take effect, overruling a lower court. The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Mississippi case that overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion law to the states, “makes clear no right to abortion exists under the Constitution, so Georgia may prohibit them.”
The law in Georgia bans most abortions when there’s a detectable human heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks, before women know they are pregnant. It has exceptions for rape and incest if a police report is filed, if the mother’s life is at risk, or the fetus is medically unviable. When it was first passed the industry protested mightily, including threats by top producers to walk away if it was ever enacted.
Similar laws are sweeping the country — either in place, pending or being considered in about half U.S. states. Studios and media companies have refrained from public comment thus far but shored up their health plans to cover employees who need to seek care out of state if needed.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Georgia-based law firms Caplan Cobb and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the law, asking that it be blocked as it proceeds to litigation.
They argue that the law was void under Georgia judicial precedent in 2019 because it clearly violated federal constitutional precedent, and that a subsequent change in federal law cannot revive it. Meaning a new law would have to proposed and passed. That would put pressure on Gov. Kemp and lawmakers. Kemp is approaching a bellwether election against Democrat Stacey Abrams.
The law violates the Georgia constitution’s protection for the fundamental right to privacy, the suit contends. It also notes the law violates Georgians’ privacy rights by giving prosecutors unfettered access to abortion patients’ private medical records without any due process.
The suit was filed on behalf of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center and a handful of other reproductive rights groups and physicians.
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