Follow the money and it will tell you its own tale. If you heard nothing else about Georgia’s growth in the television, film, entertainment and technology industries, you most certainly heard that FY15 was the best to date with revenues soaring over $6 billion dollars. However, this dollar amount is not the all-encompassing face that Georgia will want you to believe. The image says big stars equal big money, bringing in big business for big payoffs. To a degree this is truer, but some of what’s really happening is not being reported.
No matter how hard they try, Georgia will never be the next Hollywood. However, the state is managing to carve a niche unto itself by attracting those out-of-state production companies that find it financially rewarding through tax incentives and other perks that will make it seem like Hollywood. Who can blame them? Together with the weather and classic Georgia landscapes, the feel is still not Hollywood. But the magic of the industry has always been about image and what you can pull off as the final product. Still, there are those homegrown production houses and craft services that are not reaping the same rewards or sharing in those tax incentives that are being offered to those out of town in order to attract the business to make it seem like everything is hunky-dory.
When Senator Vincent Fort talks about Georgia’s income inequalities, this term can be applied to some businesses, including the film, television and entertainment industries within the state. Some research shows that some small businesses and communities are cut out of the process for whatever unexplained reasons. Take the recent acquisition of the property bought by Tyler Perry Studios. Much was made about how the process went down as opposed to what the city of Atlanta felt it could do to immerse itself into the industry. The community was up in arms because they believed they had no say in the process, even though the city felt it could go about the process without their input. What makes this so intriguing is that Fort McPherson is an old Army base, long abandoned but part of the community for decades. It sat unused and undeveloped. Actually, there was interest in redeveloping this property from another buyer but as is the case, Atlanta dragged its feet in allowing this to happen. Until Tyler Perry showed interest. The other buyer felt there was preferential treatment in allowing this sale to take place without his involvement and file suit against the city and Tyler Perry Studios. Eventually, Tyler Perry Studios won and what many believed is that the city lost, even though there were millions at stake. Don’t blame the player, blame the game.
Businesses ranging from distribution to production companies and filmmakers are rightfully concerned that they are not a part of the grandiose plans to expand the Georgia film and television industry. Some feel they have done well before and in spite of the recent industry build up Georgia raves about. In all fairness, Georgia is reaching out, however slowly, in order to include those disadvantaged individuals who have no access to the industry. Applause goes out to Georgia Film Academy certification programs that are designed to teach craft services as a marketable skill through a few colleges, and job placement is a good start. However, perhaps there needs to be some program or coop other than a media listing book that will bring those small businesses into the fold in order to make Georgia’s entertainment and film industry inclusive. That would enable the state to outgrow the $6 billion dollars that contributed to the economic base and make it a stronger industry. It appears that Georgia is to be the next stop for Hollywood film, television and entertainment, so it’s way past time for Georgia to promote the services and skills of the smaller homegrown film and entertainment companies that are trying to get in where they fit in.