In 2016, Georgia eclipsed California as the state that produced the most feature films in the U.S.A. Much of Georgia’s prolific film production comes from Atlanta – but it’s not entirely centralized. We’re going to explore the benefits to shooting in Georgia and film studios in Atlanta. By the end, you’ll know why many call Atlanta the “Hollywood of the South.”
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Film Production Studios in Atlanta
Benefits to shooting in Atlanta Georgia
For decades, filmmaking in America has been synonymous with the Studio System in Hollywood. But the times, as a wise man once said, are a-changin'. There are now filmmaking hubs in Vancouver, New Mexico, NY (of course) and more. Atlanta has emerged one of the hottest new spots for productions and they've got the infrastructure to prove it. There are a few major reasons filmmakers and financiers shoot in Atlanta Georgia.
Let’s break them down.
It’s no secret that Southern California was sought after for its natural climate. In the front half of the 20th century, filmmakers far and wide flocked to Los Angeles for access to mountains, forests, beaches, good light (especially in the afternoon), and year-round, dry, temperate weather.
Georgia has a lot of the same natural environment benefits California has (except maybe year-round dry weather). But that's why shooting in a sound stage is great — it's non-weather dependent!
THE TAX INCENTIVES
Between 2002 and 2008, Georgia passed key legislation that gave film productions generous tax breaks for shooting in their state. What is that tax break? About 30% for productions that spend more than $500,000 and add the Georgia Film Department logo.
This next video breaks down why those tax incentives have been such a positive thing for Georgians.
Oftentimes, people tend to misconstrue tax-breaks as things that only benefit the rich. And that’s well-warranted; there are a lot of tax-breaks that only benefit the rich. But the Georgia film tax-break is for everyone. By incentivizing money-makers to come to their state, Georgia legislators have given jobs to millions.
GEORGIA FILM ACADEMY
The Georgia Film Academy is a testament to Georgia’s investment in the film industry. Each year, the Georgia Film Academy prepares both degree-seeking and non degree-seeking students for careers in the film industry.
This next video takes a look at the Academy in further detail.
It’s amazing that students at Georgia Film Academy work on real-sets as part of their education. In many ways, GFA proves that Georgia is far better at preparing young people for life in the film industry than California. Hollywood has a reputation for being cutthroat – and that perspective is only strengthened by wage disparity and union requirements. Of course, those problems aren’t eliminated in Georgia – but they do seem less severe.
THE REAL ESTATE
Ever wonder how young people buy houses in Los Angeles? They don’t. They inherit them. In 2021, the median price for a house in L.A. county was $795,000. Let me ask you a question: do you have that much laying around or an income stable enough to support a compatible mortgage?
The median home cost in Atlanta is $359,000. Now, I’m not saying all film jobs in Atlanta pay the same as Hollywood – but they don’t pay less than 50%.
With those notes out of the way, let’s break down a few of the biggest film studios in Atlanta Georgia.
Movie Studios in Georgia
Tyler Perry Studios
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
Tyler Perry’s 300-acre movie studio has everything. A military compound? Check. A replica White House? Check. Restaurants, bars, hotels? Check. There’s no doubt about it: Tyler Perry is a titan of the film industry – and he should be credited as a pioneer behind the Atlanta renaissance.
Productions shot at Tyler Perry Studios include Madea’s Family Reunion, Good Deeds, and House of Payne.
Major Film Studios in Atlanta
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
Sports fans surely know Turner Studios as the home of Inside the NBA, featuring Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley – but did you know the Studio also hosts productions for Major League Baseball, NBA TV, eSports Leagues, and Turner Animation?
Turner Studios is one of the most important sports studios in the world – and its lasting legacy is a testament to the Atlanta film industry.
Top Film Studios in Atlanta
Headquarters: Fayette County, Georgia
Trillith Studios – formerly known as Pinewood Studios Atlanta – has become one of the most star-studded studio lots in the world over the past few years. That simple fact can be attributed to one thing: Marvel. Here are just a few Marvel productions that have shot at Trilith since 2015: Ant-Man, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Crazy enough, there’s an entire town across the street from the studio lot! Houses aren’t cheap – but I suppose that’s a price to pay to live a hop, skip, and jump away from the stars.
Movie Studios in Georgia
Headquarters: DeKalb County, Georgia
Blackhall Studios has only been around for a few years – but it’s already making big waves in the Atlanta film industry. In 2021, Blackhall Studios’ Founder and CEO Ryan Millsap announced plans to expand the complex with 18 new soundstages; which would potentially make it the biggest film studio in Atlanta’s greater area.
Breaking Into Film Studios in Atlanta
How to work in the Atlanta film industry
After reading about the exciting projects made in Atlanta, you may be wondering how to join. Good question.
Start by looking at union requirements. In October, 2021, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) threatened to strike if an agreement on new work conditions couldn’t be made. In the end, a deal was struck, and the strike was averted. But remember: work in the film industry, whether in Los Angeles or Atlanta, is often gifted at the discretion of the few with power.
However, you should also look at resources Georgia has made available to aspiring film professionals. The Georgia Film and TV production website has TONS of information/advice on how to join the industry. When in doubt, contact the department directly.
There are more studios in Georgia than what we went over here – and more are popping up everyday.
What is the Studio System?
It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the burgeoning Atlanta film industry and the Hollywood golden age studio system. In our next article, we break down Hollywood’s studio era by looking at the history of Paramount, Warner Bros., and more. By the end, you’ll know how (and why) the studio system exists.