Five of the state’s biggest film studios have banded together to form the Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance.
The alliance describes itself as a “legislative and educational advocacy group” for the studios and production support companies here in Georgia. It’s also partnered with the lieutenant governor’s office and the state’s College and Career Academies to help create a training curriculum for film and TV jobs.
The five studios are Eagle Rock Studios in Stone Mountain, which is also set to open its new Norcross studio this month; EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta; Mailing Avenue Stageworks in Atlanta; Triple Horse Studios in Covington and Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta.
“What the studio alliance wanted to do was form together a unified voice so they could advocate for the bricks and mortar aspects of the industry,” the alliance's Executive Director Misty Holcomb says.
Holcomb says a lot of these businesses are here because of the state’s “competitive” film tax credits.
Georgia has one of the most generous policies in the country. Under current state law, a company could get back up to 30 percent of its in-state expenditures for filming a movie or TV show here. But Holcomb points out that studios don’t get credits for building facilities or hosting out of state productions.
“The fact that they’re investing millions and driving economic development in those communities, there are things to make sure that they continue to build that positive infrastructure all over the state,” she says.
“Those are things you say when you’re building a case that a certain tax credit needs to be larger, more generous and open to more people,” Wesley Tharpe of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says.
Tharp says in the next budget year, the state will lose about $273 million to the film tax credit, making it one of the largest subsidies the state hands out.
Georgia officials claim the industry has generated $5 billion in economic impact, but Tharpe says that number hasn’t really been dissected, and it needs to be.
“Without a real clear picture of not only the number of jobs we’re getting, but also the type of jobs we’re getting, it’s just I think unwise to look at making the already generous credit even more generous,” he says.
The alliance insists its goal is not to advocate for an expansion of the state's film tax incentives.
Most states do offer some kind of tax credit to the film industry, though some, like North Carolina, have started to reconsider them.