How Georgia’s smart work made movie magic real

People talk about “movie magic” or how great film and television transport us to other worlds. But what about this world? It turns out movie magic is real. Film and television productions have the power to transform state economies by employing thousands of workers, supporting local businesses and increasing tourism.

In 2015, the state of Georgia benefited from an influx of just over $7 billion that went directly into local economies, employing tens of thousands of people from police officers to caterers, electricians to extras. A single production creates an economic ripple effect that can be felt statewide, and Georgia is currently basking in its booming entertainment economy.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) estimates that, in 2015, Georgia’s workforce benefited from $1.7 billion in direct spending and 79,000 new jobs paying $4 billion in wages with salaries averaging $84,000, which is 75 percent higher than the national average. These freelance jobs pay well and often include benefits. This remarkable economic growth resulted directly from the 248 feature films, television movies, series, commercials, and music videos that were filmed in Georgia just last year. In fact, Georgia now ranks as the third most-popular state for film and television productions, behind New York and California.

Georgia offers generous production tax incentives to bring entertainment jobs and economic activity to the state. In Georgia, the incentives represent a 20 percent refund for everything from hiring local caterers and electricians, to spending on local hotels and airfare in and out of Atlanta.

I am a proud co-chair of the Creative Rights Caucus, and I introduced the FILM Act to extend federal tax incentives in the film industry. My fellow Georgian, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, has been a great partner in efforts to keep this industry thriving in Georgia and in the United States, and I look forward to continuing this work with him.

Tax incentives alone might attract productions to a particular state, but it’s a sustained and well-organized support structure that makes Georgia stand out. The entertainment production economy is not just attracting skilled workers to relocate to Georgia — it is employing Georgians. Gov. Nathan Deal started the Georgia Film Academy, and local universities have added classes and degree programs designed to train students to take part in the local film economy.

Georgia’s expanding film economy has also led to the construction of Pinewood Studios in Atlanta. Pinewood Atlanta opened in 2013 and has grown to include 18 sound stages on 700 acres in Fayetteville. Pinewood has been home to blockbusters such as “Antman” (2015), “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), “Passengers” (2016), and the second installment of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise (2017). In Georgia, more than 33 productions were scheduled to launch in the month of October.

These investments in equipping our labor force, attracting business, and building up infrastructure have Georgia on pace to become the top destination for film and television production in the world. I look forward to continuing to support this growth and the creativity it fosters.