Written by Mollee D. Harper
Georgia Film News had the pleasure of going behind the scenes of Georgia’s leading entertainment industry association, Georgia Production Partnership (GPP), and speaking with Atlanta-based Co-Presidents’ Trish Taylor and Clark Cofer. Taylor and Cofer share their excitement about GPP’s growth over the past 20 years, their feelings about the State’s film tax credit program and its positive impact, and what’s in store for the future.
Cofer shared, “I started in the entertainment industry in Florida and was active in the state’s battle to embrace the industry in the ‘90s. I traveled with film commissioners from Florida’s West Central Coast throughout the country to promote local film production. All of our efforts may have led to one film production a year.” Clark continued, When I moved to Georgia and found GPP, I was blown away that a group of entertainment industry professionals had actually come together with unified comradery to make things happen. I still travel to LA for business at times and find a lot of folks in California are afraid of what Georgia is bringing to the table in the entertainment industry. We have so much more to offer.”
Cofer added, “The power is in the numbers. The proof is also in the numbers. Georgia is now third in film production in the U.S.”
The GPP has served as the voice for Georgia film productions for two decades, growing from a handful of entertainment industry pioneers in Atlanta to a well-established organization with more than 1,000 industry members. GPP provides locations, transportation, infrastructure and resources to support and grow local entertainment industry productions in film, music and interactive gaming, and attract the top entertainment talent to do business in Georgia.
Taylor explained, “The Georgia entertainment tax credit incentives are a big part of our growth and success. I am very proud of Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed for maintaining the programs when many other Southern states eliminated their incentives. Both are pro entertainment industry and their support has had a significant economic impact for Atlanta and Georgia. They are both strong advocates to keep Georgia’s momentum in entertainment going, and growing.”
The Georgia Production Partnership (GPP) was founded in 1995 as a not-for-profit coalition of businesses and individuals who are active in the State’s film, video, music and interactive game industries. The organization’s mission is to help Georgia grow and maintain its position as a top entertainment production destination. Members of GPP include directors, producers, writers, TV and film crew professionals, broadcast and television studios, lighting and equipment companies, talent agencies, actors, musicians, music writers and producers, as well as hotels, food caterers, local tradesmen and women and service organizations that support the industry.
Taylor added, “The thing I love about GPP is the support. I’m an actor and when I first joined I was one of a handful of other actors. Actors now make up about 50% of our membership. Out of town companies have options to staff their productions with a strong local base of talent as well as local support.”
Patricia (Trish) Taylor was elected as Co-President of GPP for a two-year office term from 2016-2018. She has been a member of GPP since 2008, and served as Vice President from 2011 to 2015. Taylor has an extensive background of 25 years in communications and the entertainment industry. She started her career in journalism before transitioning into public relations and marketing. Taylor is also a successful working actress represented by the People Store and Umberger Agency, and serves as Operations Manager for Craig Miller Productions.
Taylor explained, “The GPP is very supportive of the entertainment industry. We are an organization of writers, actors, producers, directors and more, as well as hotel owners, caterers, and even carpenters and trades people who want to get involved in the industry. There are opportunities for everyone. Our role is to bring all of those parties together for successful local film production.”
Cofer added, “GPP is all about people helping other people. In other markets you see people out for themselves. In this market, you see people really mentoring one another to make sure they are heading down the right path and working together to do what’s best for Georgia. Here, we are all one, with the same opportunities. Everyone gets a fair shake. There is enough room for everyone to play.”
Clark Cofer was elected as Co-President of GPP for a two-year office term from 2016-2018. He has more than 23 years in the film and video production community, and has been a member of GPP since 2005. Clark has held the position of Membership Chair for the GPP Executive Board since 2012, and has helped grow the organization to 1,000 members. In Clark’s diverse background in the entertainment industry, he’s served as Executive Producer, Producer, Project Manager and Art Director. Clark currently also serves as Business Development for Crawford Media Services.
Cofer explained, “Georgia’s Camera Ready Community Program is the first of its kind in the U.S. It started out as Fast Forward, basically a contact database to organize our local talent. We handed it over to the State and Craig Dominey grew the program into what it is today. The Camera Ready Program now encompasses all 159 counties in Georgia. Now, there is someone available in every city to support the industry when productions want to come to town. This makes it appealing to film makers because the communities welcome them and host them.”
Taylor added, “Our networking and outreach programs are a major part of what we do. The Georgia Film Office Camera Ready Program is a great asset for the entire State. If a producer wants to come into an area of Georgia, there’s someone there to help them organize their production, fill out the paperwork, inform them about the tax incentives available to them, help them find the right landscape or location, and serve as the liaison and local host to make the experience and their product a success.”
GPP partners with and also supports the Georgia Film Academy, Atlanta Film Society, Women in Film and Television Atlanta and several local film festivals to provide locals with training on entry level positions in the business. They also offer workshops on scouting locations, how to be a film friendly vendor, and introductory courses on protocol, terminology, resume building and tools of the trade.
Taylor said, “We have a strong educational component to GPP. We educate the public as well as local academies about what’s happening, what’s coming, and what production companies are successful. Part of our mission is to offer training workshops for the next generation of filmmakers to continue our momentum for Georgia’s future.”
GPP’s primary missions are to provide a unified voice for the industry in Georgia, create a film friendly community, and serve as an advocate working with government officials, businesses, individuals and industry professionals to nurture and grow Georgia’s entertainment industry.
Taylor concluded, “This next year is the year of film. Georgia is on track to exceed its film production from 2015 which is already an increase from the year before. Places that have shot films are being developed into tourist locations as the excitement continues to build within our State. As for GPP, we are rolling out a new website in the near future to provide more depth and searchable talent.”
For more information on Georgia Production Partnership, visit http://www.georgiaproduction.org/.