By Caitlyn Daniels
It’s hard not to notice the recent spike in celebrity sightings in Atlanta. There is even a Twitter account created with the sole purpose of tracking these visiting stars and keeping you updated on what’s filming where so you can find them on your own. But Twitter accounts aren’t the only things popping up in the wake of this Hollywood migration. Even with the 2007-2008 recession small Georgia towns such as Senioa have been thriving — even growing. New shops are opening in towns that would normally go unnoticed by business owners — why? Just as the recession hit, Georgia implemented tax incentives of up to 30 percent for production and production-related companies that spent upwards of $500,000, adding over 80 companies to the local economy. Lower labor costs, fewer unions and closer proximity to the largest airport in the world doesn’t hurt either.
“Working as an extra in the movie business, I've been witness to the rapid growth of the film industry throughout Georgia,” says Taylor Gates, recurring extra in the "Divergent” films. “The effects of this shift in scale have spread all across the state, even reaching as far as my home in Canton, which has now seen its fair share of film production. And when on set for filming it's not uncommon to come across people who have travelled from nearby states, proving that Atlanta has truly become the focal point and monopolized the film industry for the southern United States,” Georgia has risen to compete with Canada in the fight for films, and the fight has been successful, too. Just this summer: Michelle Darnell, Mena, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and the next Captain America movie are filming in and around Atlanta.
Though California’s reign is not yet over, their biggest competitor is Georgia. And we’re making them nervous. Projects lost to other states/countries are referred to as “runaways” (read: projects that have willingly left for someplace better). “It's crazy to me to realize that Atlanta is now a strong rival to LA, and in fact is making strides in dethroning Hollywood as the movie capital of the world. But really the evidence of the industry's growth is all around us; just driving around you're bound to see a street blocked off for a production set,” Gates says.
And while the film industry may be kick-starting Georgia’s economy, there’s no better way to kick-start your day than seeing Chris Evans in spandex.