Film Revolution

Starring the cast of Southern Charm, Chris Goram, Myles Truitt, Jackson Rathbone, Andra Reeve-Rabb & The Savannah Film Alliance.

Hollywood. Listen. Babe. You should know better than anyone else that this isn’t personal, alright? It’s just show business. One minute you’re on top, you’ve got every film crew in the country looking to shoot their next picture in Santa Monica or up in Napa, and then next minute you’re old news and everyone’s filming down South. It is what it is. Maybe think about cutting some taxes, swapping out the kale chips for barbecue and learning how to make decent sweet tea.

Yes, Hollywood had its time in the spotlight, but like any aging starlet, it must soon make way for a younger, livelier star to take the stage. And make no mistake, Georgia is that star. In fact, if you look at where the top 100 domestic films of last year were produced, you see that Georgia claimed 15 to California’s 10. (Canada and the U.K. flanked Georgia in the top three locations, but that’s a whole different story).

So how did Georgia come to be the new talk of Tinseltown? Duh, money.

The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act was first signed into law in 2005, but didn’t really do much until it was updated in 2008. At that point, it was off to the races. Hollywood flooded into Atlanta, putting that famous peach logo at the tail end of some of the biggest blockbuster movies’ credits. And now, it’s Savannah’s turn to steal the spotlight.

“The state tax credit is bringing movies to Georgia, but our local tax credit is bringing them to Savannah,” says Beth Nelson, executive director of the Savannah Area Film Office. For the last two years, the SAFO has been putting up an additional 10 percent incentive on top of the Georgia film credit for film crews looking to shoot in the Hostess City.

The result? Well, you’ve seen it if you’ve ever had to reroute your daily commute around a film crew in the Historic District. And with more than a dozen movies filming around here in the last year or so, odds are you have. But hey. It’s an industry that brought in just shy of $138 million last year. You can deal with the odd traffic jams.

“People have to remember that many of the people working on these films are Savannah residents; people that live here, shop here, send their kids to school here and buy houses here,” Nelson says.

Mark McCullough knows that more than most. As a full-time actor, this Savannah native returned to his hometown a few years ago and has been able to book several locally shot movies since.

“Obviously, the selfish side of me likes the fact that I can work in my own backyard,” he says. Apart from working as an actor, McCullough teaches acting classes and has seen the immense benefit local films have for his students. “A lot of times those folks have normal jobs, and having movies shoot in Savannah is a great opportunity for new actors to get a line or two in something. They have a much better chance of booking a role in a movie shooting in Savannah than they do in Atlanta.”


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