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GA Film Industry: Turning What Ifs Into What's Next

Bentley Media at the 2017 Play At The Park Festival in Forsyth County, GA.

Photo Courtesy: Kidron Bullock

An Industry Snapshot

It's no surprise that Governor Nathan Deal declared 2017 as Georgia's "Year Of Film."(1)

If you've seen the headlines lately, you know that filming in Georgia is serious business. Georgia's film and television industry generated a $9.5 billion economic impact(2) in fiscal 2017 (up from $7 billion in 2016) and has recently been named the #1 filming destination(3) in the world.

The Georgia film tax credit and other economic incentives attract big-budget productions that create thousands of jobs. More than 700 feature films(4) have been produced in Georgia since 1972.

The prospect for film in the peach state is getting better and better every year, and in my eyes, we're still scratching the surface. Luckily, the tax incentives do not have a sunset clause, meaning any attempts to slow things down would take an act of Georgia congress.

The Independent Filmmaker

I want to shift the focus, so to speak, to the indie filmmakers. The disruptors. The artists. The folks that Georgia schools and universities are creating more and more of.

Platforms such as YouTube inspire content creation, Kickstarter and Indie-go-go allow films to be funded more easily, and social media opens the doors to a global audience. Creating, funding, and sharing a film has never been easier.

Unfortunately, most physical resources (studio space, equipment rental, etc) are concentrated in Atlanta.

A Dahlonega-based filmmaker who breaks her camera either has to make a two-hour trip in the heat of traffic to a camera shop, or mail it off to the manufacturer for repairs that could take weeks. A DP in Gainesville must make a trip to Sandy Springs if he wants to rent a camera. A production company in Dawsonville has to travel to Atlanta for a soundproof stage.

In any other market, this wouldn't be a huge deal. However, if we're going to live up to being the #1 filming destination in the world, we need to provide more resources to the independent filmmaker.

A Community Destination

I envision a community hub for filmmakers to collaborate, inspire, and create. A facility in North Georgia with studios, equipment rental, office space, and common areas. Oh, and let's not forget a coffee shop with good espresso.

In this model, an up-and-coming production team can meet, get the equipment they need, shoot, and stay energized all under one roof. Think coworking space with a filmmaking twist.

That's my goal. At least, for now.

When I started Bentley Media three and a half years ago, my vision wasn't fully formed and I was unsure of what the roadmap woud look like. While this is anxiety-inducing for most, I found it thrilling because I could watch it unfold as I moved forward.

After spending time in this business and learning about our industry, I am excited for what the future holds, but I want to make sure we're not forgetting about the little guys. The big studios have been instrumental in stimulating our economy, but it has been my experience that those who are the most creative, the most hilarious, and the most inspiring are right here in our backyard.

With love,

- Maxwell Bentley

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