When it comes to producing major motion pictures and television shows, Hollywood usually comes to mind. However, since states started passing movie production incentives during the 1990s, production companies have received generous tax credits, cash rebates, grants and sales tax exemptions. The ability of film incentives to influence location decisions for filmmakers is undeniable. Two of those locations are in the Southeast, each with a different story – you could even call it “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Move over Hollywood: “Lights! Camera! Georgia!”
In 2010, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” filmed its first season in Atlanta. Since then, Georgia’s film and television industry has become third in the nation behind only California and New York. It now earns $7 billion annually and according to the Motion Picture Association of America, is responsible for more than 85,300 jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in total wages, including indirect jobs and wages. More than 25,700 people are directly employed within the industry, and there are more than 2,700 industry-related businesses in the state.
Here are several reasons why big-ticket films like Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, The Fate of the Furious, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hidden Figures, Marvel’s Black Panther and Pitch Perfect 3 filmed in and around Atlanta and throughout the state.
- People and training – Georgia is one of only two states that has developed a statewide, centralized crew training program in its higher education system. A portion of the state’s entertainment-related revenue established and funds the Georgia Film Academy, which focuses on training residents to work on television and film sets. Support for the Academy is facilitated through four-year universities and technical colleges in the state.
- Job opportunities – Film production generates thousands of jobs that go far beyond the marquee stars. Hotels get booked out for months and caterers work double-time keeping up with the demand for food at shooting locales and wrap parties. College graduates no longer have to move to L.A. to enter the movie business. Blockbusters are shooting in their own backyard.
- Production facilities – More studios and related businesses are being constructed, moving from other states or expanding because every studio is booked. Georgia is number one in growth for the movie industry, with a major shortage of available sound stages due to the massive demand in the state.
- Geography – Georgia has what directors call “geographic flexibility,” with a broad range of different looks and feels. Its climate supports year-round shooting and convenient travel via Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
- Government backing and support – Film support starts in the governor’s office. The rapid growth of the Georgia aerial photography and film industry is largely due because of consistent government commitment to providing incentives and support to draw production companies to the state.
- Stable business environment – Like other businesses, film and television production desires a stable economic environment, predictable government regulation and private sector support. The stability of Georgia’s incentive is critical for studios shooting multi-year programs expecting to receive the credit each year on their television shows. While a feature film might shoot for a few months, a television show might stay on the air for several years. Georgia has secured its filming future by ensuring producers know the incentive program will not expire any time soon – if ever.
- Generous tax incentives – Of course, the bottom line is why many film and television producers have Georgia on their mind. Georgia’s generous incentive program offers up to a 30 percent tax credit for all film and television productions shot in the state. This may also soon expand to interactive video game design. The credit is 20 percent, plus an additional 10 percent for productions that include Georgia’s logo in their program or participate in other promotional marketing for the state. Understandably, many companies have relocated to leverage these cost-saving opportunities.
Along with their flagship location in Charlotte, North Carolina, Helivision operates a satellite location in Atlanta, Georgia, conveniently located at the Atlanta Regional Airport (KFFC). The Atlanta hanger is also strategically located near many local area studios and sound stages. Like Charlotte, Atlanta provides rich cinematographic opportunities for the Georgia aerial photography industry. Helivision’s Atlanta team provides consumers state-of-the-art aerial filming products and drone aerial photography services. Helivision has been recognized as the leader of the Georgia aerial photography industry.
North Carolina’s film industry: An uncertain future?
Although today North Carolina is a film-friendly state with an emerging film industry, great locations and several major film studios, it is by no means on par with Georgia. Despite roots going back to the 1980s and a legacy of local crews and a community ready to work with the film industry, the state did not see the importance of the film industry to the state’s economy. North Carolina’s General Assembly let its tax incentive program expire and replaced it with a much smaller grant program. As a result, production companies fled the state.
Eventually lawmakers realized North Carolina was missing out on potential revenue and job opportunities and passed a new grant program. While not nearly as generous as Georgia’s, it provides up to $30 million in tax incentives. The program expires in 2020 and is only funded through 2017, causing uncertainty and perhaps reluctance on the part of film and television producers to work in the state.
Regardless of any ambiguity around film incentives, Helivision’s main base of operations is in Charlotte, with facilities conveniently located at the Concord Regional Airport (JQF). This centralized location gives us one-hour access for aerial filming and drone aerial photography services of both the beautiful Carolina beaches, the mountains and everywhere in-between.
Helivision films wherever your project leads you
Whether your film production is in Charleston, Atlanta or beyond, Helivision offers national drone aerial photography services. We will either fly to you, or transport our HD Cineflex equipped aircraft on our custom-designed helicopter haulers. We travel coast-to-coast, border-to-border. Our helicopter filming mobility can reduce costs and get to locations when others can’t. It’s that kind of dependability you need when planning your aerial production project.
Based out of Concord Regional Airport (JQF), Helivision is the premiere nationwide, multi Emmy Award-winning, aerial cinematography company with over 50,000 hours of helicopter filming experience. Helivision provides in-house aerial camera platforms, including the HD Cineflex camera system, to fulfill the film, video and still photographic needs of our customers. Helivision helicopter filming has full aircraft liability through Starr Aviation, the helicopter filming industry’s best insurance underwriter. Please contact us today for all of your aerial filming service needs.