News 12 This Morning, April 29, 2010
AUGUSTA, Ga --- Georgia is spending taxpayer money recruiting major motion pictures to film in the state...but they are not ending up here. Last year alone, movie makers spent 660 Million dollars around the state, but most was centered around Atlanta and Savannah. Deke Copenhaver, Mayor of Augusta, says the state has become one of the nation's "hotspots" for film production.
2 years ago state lawmakers approved a 30% tax rebate and incentive package for studios to film in Georgia. This move essentially started a bidding war between nearby states to lure in these big economic boosters. However most of that impact has landed in Atlanta, Savannah even nearby Taliaferro County. Augusta, meanwhile, has not logged any major motion pictures in decades.
Local leaders with the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau admit that the city does not have the recruitment staff and film production crews available to handle many films. An effort was made years ago to form such a program, but budget cuts and leadership changes ended that attempt.
Most of the recruitment effort for Augusta remains in the hands of the Georgia Film Commission. This taxpayer funded department helps to guide movie producers to locations around the state that might suit their needs. News 12 spoke with several leaders in this department who say that Augusta does have a file in the office of possible film locations. However when you visit the department's official site, Augusta is not even listed on the site, as a possible filming location. No photos of the city are within the photo gallery.
The annual impact of films made in Georgia for 2009, is an estimated $770 million dollars, according to the Georgia Film Commission.