Call it the Hollywood of the South or, better yet, Y’allywood.
We’ve all watched as Georgia became a hub for film and TV production in the last few years. At the movies, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing shots of Piedmont Park and the Midtown skyline, and films being shot here like “The Blind Side,” “42” and “The Hunger Games” sequels. From TV, we might bump into stars from “The Walking Dead” or “Drop Dead Diva” at Whole Foods.
On Thursday, I attended a panel discussion on the topic hosted by the Georgia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Here are a half-dozen takeaways.
- Hollywood’s economic impact here grew from $244 million in 2011 to $4 billion last year, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner in the state Department of Economic Development’s film division.
- Currently, 16 series, two pilots, two movies-of-the-week and 11 feature films are in production in the state, she said.
- The tipping points: economic incentives, “The Hunger Games” sequels (which required their own huge sound stages) and…
… “The Walking Dead,” the hugely popular series about hordes of flesh-eating zombies that’s filmed mostly outdoors just south of Atlanta and has spawned tours for fans. “That show is a monster — literally,” said co-panelist Rodney Ho of the AJC.
- Its creator provided the soundbite du jour, via Thomas. “Frank Darabont described Atlanta as The Devil’s Hot Tub.” (Read my interview with the show’s art director.)
- James Anderson, of Turner and The Cartoon Network, worked for years in “the business” in LA and remembers a bellwether Variety article pointing out “runaway productions” to the place Down South where people “eat shrimp and grits.” Now here for going on nine years, he works with, among many others, the Atlanta-born Adult Swim.
On-set publicist Denise Godoy shared advice so good and universal that I’m saving it for a later post. (Here it is.)
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