The number of movies and television shows filmed in Columbus is expected to increase exponentially, starting next year, now that a production company cofounded by a former Fort Benning soldier has reached agreement with W.C. Bradley Real Estate to manage its Flat Rock Studio.
Catalyst Productions cofounder and CEO John Mock, a retired U.S. Army captain, confirmed the deal in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.
“We’re extremely excited to partner with W.C. Bradley,” Mock said. “… This partnership will really create a lot of value for the two companies and a lot of impact to the community in terms of economic development, jobs and even increasing the footprint of the arts here in Columbus. We’re thrilled and honored to be a part of that.”
W.C. Bradley Real Estate president Pace Halter said in a written statement emailed to the L-E, “With Catalyst Productions based in Columbus, we felt there was a unique opportunity for them to be able to fully utilize Flat Rock Studio for projects of their own, while still keeping the studio available for other productions. Catalyst Productions maintain strong connections to filmmakers in Los Angeles, New York, and other creative hotspots which we believe will allow for even more opportunities for success here in Columbus.”
Credit: W.C. Bradley Real Estate
Credit: W.C. Bradley Real Estate
More filming in Columbus
Already “in the hopper” to be filmed at least in part at Flat Rock in 2023 are four movies and a TV show, plus the potential for “a half dozen more beyond that,” Mock said.
Two of the movies are Catalyst productions. The Ledger-Enquirer reported two months ago Catalyst is planning to film a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale featuring Hollywood stars in Columbus next year.
Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts (“Runaway Train”), French Stewart (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) and Quinton Aaron (“The Blind Side”) are billed as the top actors in the cast of the movie with “Cake(town)” as its title.
Other actors listed in the cast are Elizabeth Posey (“Euphoria”), Eva Hamilton (“The Swing of Things”), Andrew Kai (“Valley Girl”), Paige Searcy (“Days of Our Lives”) and Eric Martinez (“Better Call Saul”).
Why Columbus is attractive to film producers
Mock explained why Columbus is getting a share of the state record $4.4 billion that was spent on 412 film and TV productions in Georgia during fiscal 2022.
“The commitment to the arts here in Columbus is as robust as any town,” he said. “… The hunger within that arts community for film and TV production in Columbus is palpable when you talk to people in the industry locally. They are beyond excited to jump in and make movies and TV shows.”
Catalyst figures the time is right for their company to invest in Columbus after moving here from Pennsylvania.
“When you look at the market research, Georgia is short for studio square footage by a large number, at least hundreds of thousands if not a million-plus,” Mock said. “All the big studios in Atlanta are booked for years. So a boutique, state-of-the-art, concierge studio here in Columbus is going to attract quality filmmakers that want to make films in Georgia. The tax incentive is fantastic. The business environment in Georgia is one of the best in the country.”
The state offers qualified productions a 20% income tax credit and an additional 10% if the finished product includes an embedded Georgia Entertainment Promotion logo and a link to ExploreGeorgia.org/Film on the landing page of the project’s website.
Other factors seen as assets for production companies to film in Columbus include:
- Incentive grants from the Columbus Film Commission to help pay for associated costs.
- Pipelines of trained actors available from the Springer Opera House, Springer Theatre Academy, Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts and Columbus State University Department of Theatre and Dance.
- CSU being one of the sites for the Georgia Film Academy, which trains students to be crew members on production sets.
- Accessible via the regional Columbus Airport or a 75-minute drive from the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta.
Impact on Columbus film industry
John Travolta and Kristin Davis are among the stars in the movie “Cash Out” that was filmed this summer in Columbus. The 2020 movie “Survive the Night,” starring Bruce Willis, was filmed just north of Columbus in Harris County. It originally was titled the “The Long Night” when it was filmed in 2019.
They are among more than 30 movies filmed in the Columbus area since 2010.
Peter Bowden, president and CEO of the Columbus Film Commission and VisitColumbusGa, considers this deal as “taking things to another level in film for Columbus,” he told the L-E in an email.
“This is another step in our strategy to position Columbus as a film destination,” he said. “Reenforcing the importance of the three components we all worked together to put in place — incentive, work force, and infrastructure.”
Bowden expects the Catalyst’s management of Flat Rock Studio and the catalog of projects being discussed to boost the local economy as well.
“It’s difficult to put a number on the impact at this time,” he said, “but with the efforts of all involved — Catalyst, Flat Rock, CSU’s GFA program, the Columbus Film Fund, and the Columbus Film Office — we are positioned to bring a number of desired outcomes; vendors, established workforce, continuous production in a number of genres and outlets (streaming, television, traditional entertainment etc.).”
Amenities and possibilities at Flat Rock Studio
Flat Rock Studio’s 180,000 square-foot-facility on 80 acres offers:
- 140,000 square feet of stage and workshop space, with two adaptable sound stages and two workshops.
- Four sets, comprising two period-specific homes, a bedroom and a hospital room/office.
- 40 offices
- Five meeting rooms
- Green spaces, forest, paved and gravel roads, 2-acre lake
Mock sees Flat Rock Studio as having potential to add editing and postproduction suites, more soundstages, plus housing for crew members, on the property to make it “competitive with the best studios in Georgia,” he said.
“We feel incredibly lucky and, quite frankly, blessed that we were able to be in the right place at the right time to find this partnership,” Mock said. “We want to really be cognizant of that fact. So we want to be good stewards of the studio and give back to the community and build the community together because we live in the community.”
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution