You may have noticed a lot of movie buffs in town for Savannah college of Art and Design’s (SCAD’s) 18th annual film festival. It brings together industry experts, not to mention stars. But it’s just about watching films. It gives SCAD students the opportunity to rub elbows with many in the industry. And it’s an industry that in the future may allow fewer to leave Georgia. The state now ranks number 3 in terms of overall production of films, television
“For us it means literally 1,600 SCAD alumnae are working in the state of Georgia on film, on television and on digital media productions right now,” says Danny Filson, the executive director of the Savannah Film Festival.
Filson tells us he believes this year’s festival is one of the best in terms of film quality and there is a new emphasis on documentaries. But it may all serve as a reminder that it’s not just about watching the finished product, it’s about making films. And there seem to be more opportunities than ever right here in Savannah and throughout the state.
Tuesday, SCAD held a panel discussion on the “state of the industry” and those who participated say it looks bright. “The incentive program started in 2008 and it has been a landslide,” said Craig Miller from the Georgia Production Partnership. He’s talking about a deliberate effort by state government to entice film production companies to locate in Georgia by offering substantial tax incentives. Miller says it’s resulted in the building of 13 film studios. He says in 2015, 240 films, television programs and music videos were all produced in Georgia, putting the state behind only New York and Los Angeles in terms of the number of productions.
“So the volume of work has just been incredible,” Miller told me/
Elaine Brown, the director of the Savannah Film Studios at SCAD says it results “in bringing new businesses here and keeping our young people here. They can do everything they need in terms of film producing and jobs right here in the state of Georgia .”
But there is a lot more to do. While SCAD offers a tremendous resource, William Hammargren, director of the Savannah Film Office says the city is also trying to entice seasoned film employees to move here. He says an incentive program will begin in January. ” I think that’s going to bring a lot more business our way and with that a lot more employment opportunities,” says Hammargren.
He said there is currently one film project in Savannah and in a few days a Ben Affleck movie begins filming in the area.