EDGE Articles

Governor Likes Film Tax Credit

April 16, 2010 | EDGE

STATE OF GEORGIA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Sonny Perdue
GOVERNOR

For Immediate Release                                          Contacts: Office of Communications, (404) 651-7774

Friday, April 16, 2010                                                                 Alison Tyrer, GDEcD, (404) 962-4078

Georgia Films Top Box Office

Movies filmed in Georgia due to tax credit program to flood theaters in next few months

ATLANTA – Movies filmed in Georgia have grossed over $415 million at the box office so far this year, cementing the state’s position as a leading location for filming. Both “The Blind Side” and “The Crazies” are still in theaters and have grossed a combined total of more than $325 million at the box office. “Why Did I Get Married Too?” was released on April 2 and has grossed more than $48.5 million, including a fourth-place finish in last week’s totals. “The Last Song,” filmed mostly at Tybee Island and starring Miley Cyrus, opened March 31 and has grossed $42.4 million. “The Last Song” finished fifth in box office proceeds last week, placing two Georgia-made films in the top five.

At least three high-profile productions filmed in Georgia are slated to hit movie theaters in the next few months, including “The Joneses,” starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny, opening today.

“I signed the 2008 Entertainment Industry Investment Act to support of our efforts to recruit film, music and digital entertainment projects to Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “These industries are thriving, growing and employing thousands of Georgians. Georgia’s diverse landscape, from the coasts of Savannah to the mountains of North Georgia, makes our state a prime location for film production.”

Entertainment productions in Georgia have increased 400 percent since the state introduced an aggressive tax credit package in 2008. More than 100 feature films, television series, specials and pilots have been produced in Georgia since then, helping catapult the state into the top five in the nation for film and TV production in 2009, and landing it in the top spot in the Southeast.

“Our ability to provide a variety of astounding locations, a highly-skilled workforce, significant infrastructure and cutting-edge tax incentives makes Georgia an extremely desirable place to film,” said Bill Thompson, deputy commissioner of the Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Georgia offers everything production companies are looking for, which has enabled us to attract projects ranging from TV series like ‘Vampire Diaries’ and ‘Drop Dead Diva’ to feature films such as ‘The Blind Side,’ ‘Zombieland’ and ‘The Joneses.’ We’re excited about the opening of ‘The Last Song’ and look forward to a successful run of all of these Georgia-made movies.”

The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides an income tax credit of 20 percent to qualified productions, and an additional 10 percent tax credit to productions that embed a Georgia promotional logo in the titles or credits, or as product placement within the content of the production. The tax credits may be awarded to not only traditional feature films, television series, commercials and music videos, but also to innovative new industries such as video game development and animation. Since Georgia increased its competitiveness in mid-2008, the program has generated more than $950 million dollars in direct investment, yielding an overall economic impact of over $1.6 billion to the state.

Filmed on Tybee Island and at the Georgia Aquarium, “The Last Song” is a coming-of-age drama film written by Nicholas Sparks and starring Miley Cyrus, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston and Liam Hemsworth.

“We’ve had a very positive experience with ‘The Last Song’ filming on Tybee Island,” said Lindsay Fruchtl, marketing coordinator of the Tybee Island Tourism Council. “The Georgia Department of Economic Development has been very supportive and helpful along the way and we welcome production companies to film on Tybee Island. The Georgia coast has such a unique ecosystem and what makes Tybee Island so special is that we’ve got five miles of beach to work with and our close proximity to the Savannah area.”

Written and directed by Tyler Perry, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” is a comedy-drama film about four close couples gathering in theBahamas for an annual one-week reunion. Tyler Perry Studios is located in Atlanta. Perry has filmed all his movies in Georgia, as well as his TV shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne.”

Scheduled for release this summer are “Killers” and “Get Low.” “Killers,” starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl and Tom Selleck, was filmed in Atlanta, Douglasville, Buford and at Riverwood Studios in Senoia. Heigl’s character, Jennifer Kornfeldt, falls in love and rushes into marriage with Spencer Aimes, played by Kutcher. The two enjoy a picture-perfect marriage until they find out they are targets of a multi-million dollar hit job in the action comedy film.

“Get Low” is an American folktale and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own funeral party. The cast includes Robert Duval, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black and Bill Cobb. The film was shot in locations in Georgia that have changed little over the generations, including the small town of Crawfordville, the Gaither Plantation in Covington, a beautiful old church near Sparta, and Pickett’s Mill Battlefield near Dallas.

Coming to the big screen in November of this year is “Due Date,” a comedy film starring Robert Downey, Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan and Jamie Foxx. Downey plays a highly-strung, father who finds himself on a cross-country road trip with an aspiring actor. The film was shot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Hampton and Gainesville.

More than 700 film and television productions have been shot in Georgia since 1972, including “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “Forrest Gump,” “Fireproof,” “We Are Marshall,” “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” the Emmy Award-winning HBO film “Warm Springs,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.” These projects have generated $5 billion dollars in economic impact over the last 38 years. Entertainment fans can expect to see more Georgia scenery and actors on movie and TV screens as the state’s aggressive entertainment incentives, ability to provide a variety of settings, temperate weather, and excellence in customer service attract the world’s top productions.

About Georgia’s Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Division

The Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Division conducts extensive business development, sales, marketing and promotional activities in order to attract entertainment projects and businesses to the state. The division’s team also assists the local, national and international entertainment industries with information, expertise and resources. It is a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), the sales and marketing arm of the State of Georgia. For more information, please visit http://www.georgia.org/fmde .

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New schedule for adjournment

April 15, 2010 | EDGE, GAC, GHPCO

The Legislature revised its previously announced calendar and now will finish the current session as follows:  April 20 will be legislative day 37; April 21 will be legislative day 38; April 27 will be legislative day 39; and April 29 will be legislative day 40, the last day of session.

Session nears end . . . almost

April 13, 2010 | EDGE, GAC, GHPCO

The House and Senate met on Monday, April 12 for the 34th legislative day.  By the afternoon, both bodies had passed a resolution schedule to convene on Tuesday for day 35, Wednesday for day 36, and next Monday for day 37.  They will determine on next Monday how the final three days of this year’s session will be scheduled.

Yesterday also was an explosive day in the Senate where Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) took the well to address what had happened to him earlier in the day — that the Senate leadership had stripped him of the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.  In his comments, he exposed a critical schism within the Republican party between those refusing to vote for a tax increase and those who did vote for such an increase in the form of HB 307, the so-called hospital bed tax bill.  How this public attack on his party will play out remains to be seen, but the issues he touched on are salient ones for this session — how to balance a state budget with so many issues still unresolved and just a few days remaining.  This is the sort of script which may take the session into the very last days of the month.  Add to this equation that qualifying for state elections begins on April 22 and you have the makings of some more drama.

With the budget being the big gorilla in the middle of the room, it would seem other issues are being pushed aside.  Not so, claim House and Senate leaders.  We are being promised passage of ethics, transportation, property tax, water, and other very important legislation.  So, with the remaining days ahead, all we can do is monitor and hope for the best.

Tax Credits to be Subject to Annual Review

April 1, 2010 | EDGE

In the midst of all the hand-wringing over reduced revenues and prospects of a major hole in the current and the upcoming fiscal years, the House voted today to approve SB 206. Because it is a different version of the bill that passed the Senate, this bill returns to the Senate for it to decide if it accepts the House version.  Regardless of which version may pass, this is the basic element of this legislation:

The Office of Planning and Budget, the Department of Audits and Accounts, and the Department of Revenue would be required to conduct tax expenditure reviews as part of the annual state budget reports of the various laws granting tax credits or tax exemptions.  These reviews would be designed to show if a credit or exemption “was worth” its purported value to the state as examined over a three year period.  The Legislature would be authorized to adjust and even end any such tax credit or exemption if the value did not meet required standards.

If this bill passes the two chambers, it will then proceed to the Governor for his approval.  It would go into effect upon his approval.

Film Tax Credit Article in AJC

March 2, 2010 | EDGE

From DM:

There is a good article in today’s AJC which explains the tax credit law and gives clarity to the purpose behind Rep. Ron Stephens’ bill to amend that law. Here is the link to the article:

Film Tax Credit Article

So, when you review the language in HB 1247 and compare it with current law, the purpose behind this bill is not to change the fundamentals of a very popular tax credit.  Instead, it is to fine-tune some of the technicalities of the rights of a party buying or otherwise receiving a tax credit from the original production company (that party is the “transferee” referenced in current law and in the bill).  Look at this language in the bill:

(e)(1) Where the amount of such credit or credits exceeds the production company’s liability or, pursuant to subsection (f) of this Code section and effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2011, a production company transferee’s liability for such taxes in a taxable year, the excess may be taken as a credit against such production company’s or transferee’s quarterly or monthly payment under Code Section 48-7-103.

Hope this helps explain this bill a little better than the first time I wrote about it.

The Legislature returns to full time business this coming Monday, March 8.  At that time, all committees will begin their regular schedules.  I do not have any information regarding when the Ways and Means Committee will take up HB 1247, but I will report as soon as I do.