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UGA Charter Lecture Brings Georgia Film Giants to Athens

Atlanta-Journal Constitution

On Monday, February 26, the University of Georgia (UGA) Chapel was packed with a crowd excited to learn about the blossoming film industry in Georgia. The lecture, titled “Hollywood South: The New $9.5 Billion Georgia Industry”, was a panel discussion that included Gale Anne Hurd—executive director of the Georgia-filmed AMC series The Walking Dead, Will Packer—executive producer of box office hit Straight Outta Compton, and Lee Thomas—the film music, and digital entertainment deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The panel was moderated by Georgia Film Academy Director Jeffrey Stepakoff, who covered topics such as the forces driving the growth of film production in Georgia and the extensive career opportunities in the Georgia film industry. Panelists Gale Anne Hurd and Will Packer noted that a 2008 tax incentive, which discounted film production inside Georgia by 30 percent, attracted America’s film industry away from Los Angeles and to Atlanta.

Students attending the panel found the discussion to be applicable to their career interests. University of Georgia journalism major Arden Baila was motivated by her career aspirations to work in film after graduation. “My parents have been pushing me to do film stuff since it’s been growing in Georgia,” said Baila. Other students, such as University of Georgia student Elijah Johnston, were unaware of the expansive growth of the film industry in Georgia. “I knew the film industry in Georgia was big, but I didn’t know the specifics or the size or scale,” said Johnston.

The panel concluded with a general summary of the film industry in Georgia and what steps can be taken to foster the continued growth of film production in the state. According to the panelists, the industry has blossomed in the Peach State due to the 30 percent tax incentive, and that tax incentive should remain in place in order to keep production costs in Georgia lower than neighboring states also competing for the film industry’s business.

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