Entertainment and Georgia: Interview with Russell Bobbitt

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HPR: What film in particular brought you to Georgia, and what made you stay?

RB: The reason that films are in Georgia is because the governor offers a tax incentive for production that comes into the state, and many states do that. Right now, Georgia is offering the best incentive. The cities and the state have open arms for the film industry right now, and we react to that. It is not just about money. It has to be about the ease of filmmaking in a particular place.

When Pinewood built this studio in Fayetteville, they built a beautiful facility that is user-friendly for the filmmakers. Taking the tax incentive and coupling it with the good facility makes it attractive for a production to come and shoot here. That is what brought us to Georgia, and that is what is keeping us in Georgia. Now, Marvel is just a small portion of the production that goes on in Georgia. There is also Tyler Perry, who has his studio here, EUE/Screen Gems, Blackhall, [and]so many [other]productions. There will be up to 30 productions at any given time shooting in Georgia—The Walking Dead, all of it. For me, where it started was Ant-Man, and then we parlayed into three or four other big films. They do not see a real end to it. As long as Georgia has open arms, both financially and city-wise, we will be here for a while.

HPR: As released by FilmL.A.’s annual report and other news sources from 2016, Georgia came in first internationally for feature film production with a total of 17 movies. California, however, came in fourth with 12 movies. Do you think California will take any strides to step up the competition now that Georgia, the United Kingdom, and Canada are such big competitors?

RB: California is trying. There is not [much]incentive for California to do it. Why? I do not know. Recently, they reinstated their tax incentive to try to bring some production back, but they put a limit on it. I think it is a 100 million dollar limit. That limit is not in any other state, and California is limiting it to what we would consider a smaller-budget film, but independent filmmakers look at 100 million dollars like it is a lot. It would be a medium budget film for tax incentives. Apart from the tax incentive, with the 100 million dollar cap on it, only so many films can shoot there until their incentive is used up. That is why you are seeing a lower percentage of major film production shooting in California.

While there is some work there, they have not stepped up to the plate as much as Georgia, for instance, and Canada. Will they? We do not know. We all question that ourselves, and we are anxious to see what happens in the future.

See the rest of this interview at Harvard Political Review.

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