Why aren't major movies made in Augusta?

By: Will Nunley Email
By: Will Nunley Email

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.

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  • by TK3 on May 1, 2010 at 06:19 PM
    The NIGHT of the living dead was the cult movie I helped on in Brooksville, Fla in the early 70s and they picked the town because they had a house that was donated for filming and almost all the actors/extras were locals working for little or no pay and the film company was not hit up for bunch of "fees" and was Non-Union. I didn't get a part (their loss:-) but having been a cop once, did get to help direct a police scene, where the police car pulls up in front of the house and they get out and approach the house and the "living dead" with guns drawn. Never thought much of the movie and the crew never thought it would be the cult hit it later became.....Point being don't underestimate nor scare off the little film projects with high production area costs and absurd fees........................."Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise."-Henry A. Wallace
  • by Craig Location: Atlanta on May 1, 2010 at 06:17 AM
    As a location specialist for the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office I would like to respond to this story. Augusta is regularly promoted for film and TV projects and we have hundreds of photos from the area. Our database is an industry specific photo collection not publicly viewable due primarily to privacy issues (many private homes are featured). It is only available to trackable prospects and is password protected. What the reporter is referencing is a small collection of sample state images on Georgia.org that are not used by prospects. It is clearly stated that these photos are only a sampling and that we have a larger collection in our office which can be accessed by contacting our staff. I have personally been to Augusta numerous times, photographed and promoted it. It has unique and varied locations. Creative, logisitcal and financial decisions play a role in why a city isn't chosen, but it is not due to lack of promotion from our office.
  • by Steven Location: Evans on Apr 30, 2010 at 07:58 AM
    well if they ever make another post apocalyptic film where 90% of the world's population is wiped out in a nuclear holocaust and the remaining few have transformed into mutants then downtown Augusta would provide the perfect backdrop. The locals could all be extras... no makeup required.
  • by Diane Location: Evans on Apr 30, 2010 at 07:57 AM
    The same poster posting multiple times. Please get a life. Augsuta is a wonderful growing city.
  • by Llama Location: Augusta on Apr 30, 2010 at 06:22 AM
    @tory You mean Dawn of the Dead, and they already remade it.
  • by Anonymous Location: Augusta on Apr 30, 2010 at 12:43 AM
    They can always come to Augusta and do a remake of "Lean on Me" and have Morgan Freeman clean up our schools
  • by Me Location: Evans on Apr 29, 2010 at 04:51 PM
    A lot of times when scouts are looking for locations to shoot at they are specifically looking for a few key things. There is a lot involved and it is more complicated than most people think. It can also be very expensive to do depending on the film's budget. The location has to have the look that is required for the film and sometimes certain things have to be done. Like shutting down a certain part of a street. Augusta can hardly agree on trash pick-up. I can just about imagine some these people dealing with people from the entertainment industry.
  • by Tory Location: Augusta on Apr 29, 2010 at 04:21 PM
    If they ever plan to remake Day of the Dead, the Regency mall would be a perfect location
  • by Anonymous on Apr 29, 2010 at 01:40 PM
    simply put... because Augusta is ugly, in every aspect.
  • by Bella Location: North Augusta on Apr 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM
    Augusta has some POTENTIAL great locations for future movies, however Augusta needs to INVEST in said locations. With all of the cutbacks going on, it doesn't appear to be on the list of priorities. I think it would benefit Augusta to take a look at what Atlanta and Savannah are doing and create similiar plans. A major movie production would bring jobs and a significant boost to the local economy. Haven't you ever heard, "You have to spend money to make money". Invest in Augusta (cleaning up the streets, cleaning up the crime, make it so production companies WANT to come here) and you will reap the rewards.
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