The Film Industry Has Georgia On Its Mind

by: Smith and Howard

February 18, 2016

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In 2008 at the height of the recession, the state of Georgia introduced production incentives to help Georgia compete in the film industry. With many businesses experiencing potentially catastrophic financial situations, some turned to the film and television production business to stay afloat. By 2013, the film and television industries in Georgia had generated more than $4 billion and had been the driving force behind the continued success and livelihood of many in Georgia. Since then, Georgia has made quite a name for itself in the industry: it is now the No. 3 state for filming and Atlanta is the No. 1 place to live and work as a filmmaker (

Some interesting personal and business stories that explain the full impact of this burgeoning business are covered in a video produced by Blue Marble Media for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). In a conversation with Blue Marble Media’s Principal and Creative Director, Cara Barineau, we discussed her production company’s learning experience during the filming of the GDEcD piece.

Barineau pointed out the interesting cross section of industries that work together to serve the film industry: construction, building material supplies, real estate, personal services (hair, makeup, tailors, dry cleaners), recycling and food service/catering among them. Many of these are highlighted in the GDEcD piece. But she also has heard the rumblings from those critical of the generous incentives offered to the film industry. We have heard similar questions: why provide such incentives to a business that is doing so well here when we could collect significant taxes from film and television studios?

What is often overlooked in this argument is just how significant the tax benefit is to the state. For instance, the people who live and work in Georgia simply because of the film industry do their living, purchasing and tax paying here. They buy cars, homes, pay property taxes, income taxes, start new and expand their own businesses and use other local businesses, thereby adding revenue to the state and paying taxes. The state gains far more from allowing the incentives than it would gain if it stripped them away – we would likely lose a large portion of the film industry business without incentives in place. Where the incentives go, there the business goes, also.

Just how vast is the film and television industry in Georgia today? In 2015, Georgia accommodated 248 film and television productions which created an economic impact of $6 billion. 2016 is expected to top this.

Georgia State Tax Credits Include:

  • 20 percent base transferable tax
  • 10 percent Georgia Entertainment Promotion (GEP) uplift can be earned by including an embedded Georgia logo on approved projects and a link to on the promotional website
  • $500,000 minimum spend to qualify
  • No limits or caps on Georgia spend, no sunset clause
  • Both resident and non-resident workers’ payrolls and FICA, SUI, FUI qualify
  • No salary cap on individuals paid by 1099, personal service contract or loan out. Payments made to a loan out company will require six percent Georgia income tax withheld
  • Production expenditures must be made in Georgia to qualify from a Georgia vendor
  • Travel and insurance qualify if purchased through a Georgia agency or company
  • Original music scoring eligible for projects produced in Georgia qualify
  • Post production of Georgia filmed movies and television projects qualify
  • Development costs, promotion, marketing, license fees and story right fees do not qualify


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