To get an industry insider’s take on the growth in our home state and opportunities to get involved, we spoke with Craig Miller — Chair of the Film, Music, and Digital Entertainment Advisory Commission for the Governor’s office.
Q: The (recent study) states that Georgia now produces more feature films than anywhere in the world. What does this article mean to you as someone involved in the Georgia film industry?
Craig Miller: This means a great deal to us in the film industry in Georgia. We always felt like we could be in contention with other major film production markets but was it a realistic goal that we could be the number one production market in the world? I was in Los Angeles when I saw the article and the Governor was there hosting ‘Georgia night in L.A.’ He used the article to thank the studios and the executives from the studios.
We’ve started now seeing independent films move into the market as well and there have been several notable films that have been produced in Georgia.
Q: How has the film industry in Georgia grown up or how has it changed since you started out here?
Craig Miller: In 2008, Georgia passed the Entertainment Industry Investment Act. The legislature passed this act which basically was an incentive to bring motion pictures and commercials to be produced in Georgia. In 2008, there was about 243 million dollars worth of economic impact in the state of Georgia in film production. In 2016 there was 7.2 billion dollars worth of economic impact.
What’s happened since then, is we’ve educated more Georgians through the Georgia Film Academy, we’ve built more infrastructure, brick and mortar facilities. There was really only one studio in Atlanta in 2008, now there are 18 studios and some of those studios have as many as 18 sound stages.
We keep the lumber business moving, we keep electricians moving, we keep florists moving and hotels and caterers. All of these other surrounding industries that are impacted by the fact that this many movies are being made in Georgia. Last year, there were 245 films or TV shows made in the state of Georgia.
Q: How would you describe Pinewood Atlanta Studio’s leadership role in the Georgia film industry?
Craig Miller: The decision for Pinewood to set up operations at Pinewood Atlanta Studios was the tipping point of whether we were going to have a sustainable motion picture industry in Georgia or not. The reality that Pinewood, one of the biggest studio companies in the world, were going to invest in Fayetteville to be one of the next great film production centers of the world, it was pretty amazing.
It showed that people believed that there was a true industry affiliated with making movies and that it could be a profitable endeavor to go into in Georgia. You go out there and you’re just amazed at the number of people that are working there.
I think they’ll continue to grow and continue to be a great barometer of how the industry is doing in the state of Georgia.
Q: What would you tell someone who is interested in learning about opportunities or a career in film or any of those kinds of supporting industries?
Craig Miller: The first place I would send them is the Georgia Film Academy. They have a two-semester certificate program. It’s a great way to quickly assimilate yourself into the industry and get to know people. Getting to know people and networking is how you end up getting jobs in the industry.
The second thing I would say: the Georgia Production Partnership is certainly a good organization. It’s the voice of film, music, and digital entertainment in the state. It has monthly meetings, usually about 200-250 people show up. You get education or information from guest speakers, there’s good networking, and there’s opportunities to volunteer and get connected in the community. They also offer some educational programs.
The other way is to find a way. You might be an extra. I say that not for the small amount of money you’ll get paid to do that but for learning the etiquette of being on a movie set because if you’re knowledgeable about how movies work and how things operate on a movie set, then you’re more likely to be able to land something in the future.
There’s a great site just for information that will take you to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, their website about movie making. You can find casting, you could list your house as a location.
Q: In five years, what will the film industry look like in Georgia?
Craig Miller: In five years the industry will be bigger. We will see more and more Georgia creative being developed and we will see a growing post-production community. If projects are being created in Georgia, then the post-production aspects will happen in Georgia as well.