John Latenser is a location manager: when a director needs to shoot scenes with a particular backdrop, he’ll find some options, sign agreements with property owners, figure out safety measures and what to do if it rains. Latenser has worked on “Black Panther,” “Transformers,” “Deep Impact,” and other projects, going back decades. A few years ago, he moved from Washington, D.C., to Georgia, which was on its way to becoming “the Hollywood of the South.”
The industry has reportedly created nearly a hundred thousand jobs in the state and generated an estimated $2.7 billion in direct spending in Georgia during the last fiscal year. Georgia is home to a major international airport and a variety of filmable landscapes—mountains, beaches, a big city, countryside—but what really made it a top filming location are the tax credits. Since 2008, production companies working in Georgia have earned credits equaling thirty per cent of most of their expenses simply by flashing the state’s peach logo at the end of movies and TV shows.
But, in January, Latenser told me recently, many of his colleagues began to get anxious. “There was a weird lull in production here at the beginning of the year,” he said. “No one could quite put their finger on it. We didn’t know what was going on. It seemed logical that people were waiting to see what happened politically.” Tom Pierce, a colleague who works in location management, told me the same. “One of the rumors was that they were kind of waiting to see how it would settle out with the governor’s race,” he said.