Accommodations and Resources for Georgia’s Entertainment Industry: Behind the Scenes of Georgia Location Services with CEO Jim Munson

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Georgia Location Services (GALS) was founded by co-owners Jim Munson, Caroline Stokes and Neely Sood in 2016, combining several critical services to meet the growing needs of Georgia film and TV productions. GALS is headquartered at 3060 Mercer University Drive in Atlanta, and provides production accommodations, location support and resources for Georgia’s entertainment industry in filming locations, vehicles, warehouses, corporate housing, property management, concierge services and even HR.

During our one-on-one, Munson describes how their niche in global corporate relocations quickly evolved to meet the needs of Hollywood’s brightest and most talented who come in from Hollywood and New York to produce in Georgia’s thriving entertainment industry. Munson also highlights the wide array of resources and services provided by GALS including: connecting producers with vintage and new cars for shoots, finding location shoots, and providing their crew temporary accommodations, for every budget, with the conveniences they need to feel at home while working in Georgia.

Furnished Housing

Munson offered, “I have been in the location business forever. Caroline, Neely and I started the company by renting furnished apartments to the movie industry, when it first started taking off here. Most of our competition was renting homes.” 

“Most of our customers on West Coast. They are people from Hollywood or New York coming here for work. A lot of those people are coming to Georgia for the tax incentives. When they move to Georgia, they contact us. They say we are moving 50 people here for 6 months to make this movie. We are moving the stars in, the technical folks, the writers and directors.”

“The local Walking Dead production is a good example. Many of those actors still live in California. When they come in to shoot for a number of weeks, sometimes 16 weeks, sometimes 32 weeks, they need housing and services while they are here. Spiderman, Fast and Furious, and many others feature films and series, the same applies. When folks come in from out of town, everyone working on the production needs a place to live.”

“In the past many of these people would look for apartments on Craig’s List. We find them accommodations in fully furnished units, both high end and low end, for individuals and groups. “We can source any housing needed within a variety of budgets and include any extras such as housekeeping.”

“We will receive a call that a movie cast is coming in that will start in August. That includes six people coming in that need housing in Atlanta. They give us a price range and where they will be shooting. We get them as close as possible with options. We also handle car rentals and everything else they need so when they arrive they don’t have to worry about anything.”

“They were literally looking on Craig’s List. These are LA people who are typically looking for funky neighborhoods. We have responded and make sure we have a very eclectic range of properties to show them like Virginia Highlands, and locations near vegetarian restaurants and yoga classes.”

Concierge Services

“Our first production job was a group of 48 makeup artists who came in from the West Coast who needed to find apartments while working here on a feature film. We ended up helping them find temporary housing in one place with convenient access to their set, exactly what we have done for corporations for many years.

“We also realized this group would need access to other services like dry cleaners, doctors, pharmacists, and more. While filming, the need transportation, parking, permitting and logistics. With big stars, they typically have someone that does this for them already. So we met that need with our offering and added our concierge services.”

Property Management Services

“The other thing we found was that different realtors are renting houses to people but weren’t doing a good job with property management. So we started a property management division. So not only do we rent the house, but we also maintain the property so you don’t get calls from people about watering the lawn or other day-to-day maintenance activities.“

Munson bragged, “Caroline’s background is in property management. She was in property management in commercial real estate for her entire career and has been able to help us really expand this service offering to our entertainment clients. Caroline runs the property management side of the house.”

“Neely Sood is our sales person who was born and raised in London, England and served with the BBC for years, working in television production and selling programming. Neely moved to Atlanta in 1999, and now serves as our Vice President of Sales.”

“Chad Redfern serves as our Vice President of Operations. Together, the four of us manage all of the different service offerings offered by Georgia Location Services. We have some really, really, talented people in place to provide the high level of service entertainers expect.”

“The one thing I want people to know is that we are probably the best property management company, which makes us unique in this field. We not only rent the homes, but we also handle the property management side for them. I don’t think anyone else is doing that now. We believe those services are really critical to ensure entertainers are happy while here and want to come back for more in the future.” 

Film Location Services

Munson shared, “Next, we expanded and began providing locations for filming. Production companies will reach out with a need for an old farm in the mountains of Georgia, or a vintage car for a shoot, and often we hear the need for a lot of warehouse space for filming even. So if you are going to shoot a film in the middle of Georgia, we will provide a warehouse for storage and an office space with high speed Internet and short term leases.” 

“We provide furnished office space within close proximity to any filming space. Short term leases and high speed internet can be set up quickly too. We also offer commercial space including warehouses, both buying and renting.”

“Black Hall Entertainment is an interesting and dynamic company we are doing work with. Black Hole Entertainment has nine studios here in Atlanta that they built from scratch. They have 20,000 and 40,000 sq ft studios here now where they shoot regularly. Within the next six months, you are really going to hear some big things coming out of this studio. They are into movie, TV shows and all kinds of things.”

“It’s really a funny industry, because you might receive a call on Friday with a need for Monday, or even next day. These requests often seem spontaneous. The more we deal with the industry, the more proficient we have become in meeting the quick needs that arise last minute in entertainment.”

Human Resource Services

Munson added, “One of the other ways we evolved to meet new needs of the entertainment industry was in expanding our offering to include Human Resource services. Every company that comes in has certain requirements in HR. Let’s say you are making a picture, you need to have a talk to everyone on that set. Everyone has to be debriefed on the rules of engagement, dos and don’ts, no sexual harassment policy, and safety. We now also provide HR services for production companies that travel here and need them.”

“All of these services we have added over time have been added because there was a need. We realized we can do that. The nice thing is that it is all menu driven, meaning our clients can select services a la carte per se like a restaurant does. The services are provided like concierge, doctors, etc. You aren’t charged for them unless you use them. “

“We are also licensed realtors. The name of our real estate company is Metropolitan Real Estate Company, and we’ve been around for 30 years.” 

“Part of what we are doing as Georgia Location Services is building up this industry. We work very hard to make sure people that come here want to come back.”

“We serve a wide range of clients, both from out of town and locals. We are trying to recruit more locals who are willing to rent their homes. Our job is to go to the production companies and find out what they need in advance of needing it. When they come, they come quickly. We try to stay ahead of those needs to ensure their success, and future productions.”

Insights on Georgia’s Entertainment Industry

Munson described, “The state of Georgia has done a magnificent job of bringing in services. Now, we need to bring in people that want to stay here, and start bringing in writers, producers and talented folks that stay here. I am really impressed with what the Georgia Film Academy is doing in this area.  Jeffrey Stepakoff is working hard to get our screenwriters to come and work here full time, which would be wonderful.”

“We are really seeing the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta getting behind all of this. In addition to the tax credits, the infrastructure and resources have really been put in place now. We have amazing talent in place to make sure the whole package comes here in the future. We want to bring all of that business here locally. We want the screenwriters and post production work to stay here so we really have something long term.”

Munson concluded, “We need to continue to work together in the same direction. If you hear of a need, tell us.  That’s what we do. We have expanded and evolved to meet the changing needs of the entertainment industry and will continue to do so. Some of our services aren’t big money makers, but they are critical as value-added services.”

Jim Munson is a lifelong entrepreneur and also serves as President and CEO of Munson Site Selection Group since 2012, and President of Munson International, since 2003. Munson has a background helping professionals with relocations all around the world. He served as Vice President for United Van Lines/Wansley Moving and Storage for 25 years, and helped corporate accounts with global relocations, including: British Telecom, Michelin Tire, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, and Hyatt Hotels. Munson also worked with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the World Cup in 1994.

Munson received his BBA in Logistics and Marketing from the University of Memphis. He holds his Realtor license and is a Certified Relocation Professional. Munson is a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club, and sits on the Advisory Board for Books for Africa.

For more information on Georgia Location Services, visit their website at: https://www.galocationservices.com/.

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