DORAVILLE, Ga. — California’s high-profile effort to pull filmmakers out of Georgia won’t be easy. Economists say Georgia’s tax incentives for filmmakers remain the most generous in the country – even if Hollywood doesn’t like Georgia’s politics.
A studio expansion project in Doraville is hard evidence that it’s not politics, it’s money that talks in Georgia’s film industry.
Georgia’s film industry thrives because the state treasury pays filmmakers generous tax credits to produce movies and television here.
"No other state offers film incentives comparable to Georgia," said Dr. JC Bradbury, a Kennesaw State University economist who has been critical of the state’s film tax credits – which he says costs every household in the state about three hundred dollars a year.
The more filmmakers shoot, the more money Georgia pays them.
"Georgia’s film incentive is somewhat unique not just because it’s so large but because it is uncapped," Bradbury said. "And so Georgia can always expand."
This is exactly what’s happening at Third Rail Studios in Doraville and elsewhere.
Some in the film industry protested when Georgia passed its restrictive "heartbeat" abortion bill three years ago and a handful of productions bolted when Georgia passed its law this year eliminating the permit requirement to carry handguns.
This week, California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called on filmmakers to exit Georgia because of the politics.
Georgia’s Republican governor says he’s untroubled by it.
"Had a record year for film," said Gov. Brian Kemp Thursday. "I’m not too worried about people leaving Georgia going to New Jersey or California."
When the heartbeat bill was first passed, "there was a lot of saber-rattling in Hollywood about how we’re not going to film in Georgia anymore, and they said 'well, we’ll wait until it becomes law,'" Bradbury said. "And now that it has become law, Hollywood has become very, very quiet."
And Bradbury said that’s because money has the loudest voice in the film industry.