Wednesday, 24 June 2015

GUEST POST: Atlanta & The Movies: How the South Secured Its Spot on the Silver Screen

Another guest post today, this one is from Ron Goldenberg on how Atlanta is becoming the new Hollywood for the American film industry.

Ron Goldenberg is the manager of Atlanta Lockmasters and loves sharing his love for Atlanta through blogging. Whether you need your car unlocked or a recommendation for an ATL restaurant or attraction, Ron is your man!

Read on and enjoy!

When you think of classic Hollywood cinema, most likely, images of L.A.’s Sunset Strip or NYC’s iconic skyline come to mind. However, within recent years, another up-and-coming city has been stealing the scene from these larger markets by redirecting the film industry’s focus down South. And, that city just happens to be Atlanta.

The Atlanta skyline. You may recognize this from The Walking Dead season 1 poster. All the urban/city shots in the series are filmed in Atlanta where the series takes place.

This connection between flashy Tinsel Town and the simpler Peach State -- which has a thriving arts culture but isn’t exactly a mecca for commercialized entertainment -- has left many movie fans confused. Atlanta residents, in particular, are probably wondering: “Why our city? Why Georgia, in general? Why are A-list stars, like Will Ferrell or Jennifer Lawrence, filming right here in our backyard?”   

Well, to begin with, cutting costs plays a major role in why blockbuster directors and in-demand actors are suddenly relocating their projects to ATL. In 2008, Georgia legislators passed appealing tax credits for film and television production. Hollywood wasted no time responding to this incentive and, thus, the collaboration was born. In fact, during the 2014 fiscal year alone, studio executives spent an estimated $1.4 billion shooting big-budget movies -- like The Hunger Games -- and TV programs -- like The Walking Dead -- throughout metro-Atlanta.

This arrangement is mutually stimulating for both the Peach and Golden State economies, as increased jobs are being created for Georgia workers, and California’s sky-high entertainment expenditures are finally getting a break. Multiple production companies, such as Tyler Perry Studios and Pinewood Studios, have even been built in Atlanta or surrounding locales.     

And filmmakers do enjoy working in the city. Many have stated that the commute in Atlanta is much better compared to the deadly freeways of Los Angeles.

These examples are just a sampling of the many box office smashes that have turned ATL into an epic cinematic backdrop:    

  • Dirty Grandpa, starring Zac Efron and Robert DeNiro, centers around a young soon-to-be-married man, who is manipulated into road-tripping to Florida with his laughably perverted grandfather. This movie was filmed in the Atlanta suburbs of Marietta, McDonough and Riverside, and on Tybee Island.

  • The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, centers around a seemingly clean-cut accountant, who works at a prestigious financial firm by day but transforms into a nefarious assassin by night. This movie was filmed in downtown Atlanta, including the Georgia Tech campus.

  • Captain America: Civil War, starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd and Jeremy Renner, picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off and centers around a potentially catastrophic feud between superheroes, Captain America and Iron Man. This movie is currently being filmed in the metro-Atlanta area.

  • Michelle Darnell, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell and Peter Dinklage, centers around the title character, a financial tycoon with questionable ethics, who is released from prison after serving time for an insider trading scheme and tries to subsequently rebrand herself as “America’s sweetheart.” This movie was filmed in various Atlanta neighborhoods, including Midtown and Buckhead.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and others to-be-announced, picks up where the highly successful Guardians of the Galaxy left off. Although Marvel has not yet disclosed any plot details, principal photography will reportedly be shot at Atlanta’s soon-to-open Pinewood Studios.

Finally, Atlanta is home to many student and indie filmmakers. Georgia State University and SCAD (Savannah School of Art & Design - Atlanta Campus) have many student filmmakers hoping to create something unique which they can present in their city. Whether this be at the High Museum of Art which presents short films regularly or the well known Atlanta Film Festival, expect to see the next Spielberg or Tarantino rise from the South’s Capital.

So, while currently many movies are being filmed in ATL are attempting to pass themselves off as taking place in NYC or other major cities, I predict that as this Southern city gains more notoriety, that we’ll be seeing more plots centered in Atlanta (like Ride Along starring Kevin Hart & Ice Cube and The Walking Dead series already have). Atlanta is truly an up & coming place for the film industry; it’s full of talent and promise, y’all.

Thanks for reading!

Ron Goldenberg


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