Southside's film studio cluster growing

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  • Southsides lm studio cluster growingJuly 24, 2015, 6:00am EDT

    The movie business in Georgia will generate more $6 billion this year and theres no better evidence of the size and permanence of the industry than in the lm studios now springing up on Atlantas Southside.

    Tyler Perry Studios has a new facility planned for the former Amy base Fort McPherson in East Point. In Union City, 404 Studio Partners LLC is building a 345,000-square-foot campus for Atlanta Metro Studios on the 25-acre site of the former Shannon Mall. The two will join the already busy Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville, where one of the years biggest lms Marvels Ant-Man was just shot.

    Georgia is also the site of the nations largest lm studio project. Moon River Studios, a division of Rincon, Ga.-based FONU2 Inc., is developing a 1,560-acre full service production complex in Engham County.Once you have purpose-built infrastructure that is to the scale of, say, a Pinewood or an Atlanta Metro Studios, you have the ability to capture the Hollywood tent pole movies, said Ed Richardson, Founder and Co-CEO of 404 Studio Partners.

    Feature lm and television productions generated an economic impact of more than $6 billion during scal year 2015. The 248 lm and television productions shot in Georgia represent some $1.7 billion in spending in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. various sizes have sprung up throughout the metro area. From Atlanta Film Studios Paulding County to the set of the TV series Drop Dead Divas in Peachtree City, sound stages are all the rage as more and more projects make their way to the state.

    Projects like Atlanta Metro Studios have been drawn to the Southside by lower land costs and the availability of large parcels needed for a major studio, according to Richardson.

    While most of these operations have been small and aimed at lower budget productions, the new studios are well equipped, large scale operations that can handle the largest Hollywood projects.

    The larger studios are a sign that Georgia is developing a permanent movie-making infrastructure with lm professionals from lighting crews to caterers now making the state their futll time home.

  • These studio executives are predicting that close to $30 million in brand new equipment being pledged to delivered for production work expected to shoot at the new facility, according to Brian Livesay, Founder and Co-CEO of 404 Studio Partners LLC.

    Thats not us investing the money, but individual companies expanding their eet in order to service the increased level of production that will happen because of our facility, he said. That happens with many other facilities as well particularly purpose-built facilities.

    Grading of the Shannon Mall site is underway with construction expected to be completed in 2016. The rst phase will include 130,500 square feet of sound stages, 60,000 square feet of oce space and 50,000 square feet of mill (construction and ex space).

    The Southside oers movie studios a number of advantages. Its a short drive to Hartseld-Jackson Atlanta Inter-national Airport and ights to anywhere in the world. Film crews also like the less congested trac and the easy access to hotels, restaurants and suppliers, according to Emily Poole, business retention and expansion manager for the Fayette County Development Authority.

    The region oers location settings for lms that need to get o the sound stage for a more realistic look.We have a wide variety of everything from commercial to housing stock to farm land to downtowns, said Poole. So we tend to draw not only Pinewood-related productions, but those that come here to do location lming.

    The growth of the lm industry in the state means its less of a hard sell for economic developers. Film producers already know when they get here they will have ready access to both the facilities and the talent they need.

    Its certainly gotten easier, said Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner of lm, music and digital entertainment at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Were not doing near as much marketing because most of our business is people who come back here time and time again. Its making sure logistically that were supporting them and they get what they want and have a good experience.

    To ensure enough trained talent for stang lm crews, Georgia recently embarked on a workforce development eort for movies. Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced creation of the Georgia Film Academy earlier this year. A collaboration between the University System of Georgia and the states technical colleges, the initiative is designed to provide students with degrees or certications that fulll industry needs and demands.

    The increased level of work has enabled lm professionals to make Georgia their full-time home rather than commuting back and forth to Los Angeles. One set decorator not only moved here but over the last several years purchased nine homes as rental properties for other lm professionals working in the state, according to Livesay.

    The growing number of studios has prompted concerns of oversupply in some quarters, but others say the amount of business is still exceeding the available space. Locating studios close together can help in driving business as well.

    Having other resources close to us is a good thing, said Richardson, who noted the major studios in Burbank, Calif., are within sight of each other. We think its just another way to help grow the business by keeping close proximity to all these other vendors who will be there and work around and support our individual properties.