The film industry is nothing new to any average American. It has been around since the late 1800’s and has been present in the United States since 1910. However, what you may not be aware of, especially if you’re one of the average Americans living in the south, is that you are currently living in the global hub of the film world. In 2008, the state of Georgia created a tax incentive which allows studios to produce/ film the work in the state at a rate that is 10% cheaper than both California, as well as New York. This has led many studios to build locations within the state, particularly around the Atlanta area, which has created a thriving community of Georgians getting involved with movies. These studios include such big names as Screen Gems, PineWood Studios, and the latest, and currently fastest growing of the all- BlackHall Studios, which was born right here in Georgia.
BlackHall has purchased acres of land outside of Atlanta, and will be larger than even Universal Pictures’ lot by the end of 2018.
“You could smell it in the air, this was about 3 or 4 years ago”, said Steven Perez, an Atlanta local and Producer/ Director for BlackHall Studios, “And I mean, you could just tell that things were going to blow up in a major way, and that it was going to happen fast”.
Steven began working in the music industry in Atlanta in the early 2000’s, and over the last 15 years has forged a substantial career for himself, eventually making his way into film.
“You know if I were in Los Angeles, which is where I always thought I’d want to go- there would be this entire hierarchy set in place. A system that you’ve got to work your way through in order to amount to anything, and it takes the better part of a lifetime to get there. Atlanta’s not like that. This is all still really new here. Atlanta doesn’t tell you how to start your career, you decide that. And you can really make it just about any way you want”.
BlackHall studios opened it’s doors in 2017, and has already been the home of the new Godzilla film, Venom, and Jumangi. However, that may not be the most interesting bit of information to those aspiring artists living in GA. BlackHall has set out to fund and produce it’s own films, not just be a home to those who film there from out of state, such as PineWood Studios and Screen Gems among others.
“They gave us $100,000 dollars and said ‘We like your idea. Go make that movie. If it works out, next time we’ll give you more’. I was blown away. So I started hiring my crew, mostly those I knew from past projects. So really, with only a few exceptions our team is entirely Georgia natives”, said Perez.
Georgians have taken to the recent boom in film with stride. Even flooding into the studios with such numbers that PineWood Studios, one of the current largest in GA, and home to the Marvel franchise built a school next to their studio, as well as neighborhoods in order to account for the families of those who work for the studio and spend most of their time on the lot.
“It’s really cool,” said Connor Panell, a gaffer at BlackHall who also does some work for Pinewood, “It really is like an entire community that was born right out of film. Georgia surpassed both California and New York this year in terms of film productions, we’re officially the best place to be if you want to be in the industry”.
And the meteoric rise of film in GA shows no signs of slowing down, with BlackHall recently purchasing an abandoned school outside of it’s sound stage lot in order to build a post production house.
“The sky is really the limit at this point,” Panell went on to say, “People ask me all the time, ‘Why Georgia?’ and I always laugh and answer their question with a question, ‘Why not Georgia?’