Perspectives From Atlanta, the “Hollywood of the South”

August 1, 2016
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Look at any list of the best cities to live in if you’re a filmmaker, and Atlanta ranks near or at the top of all of them. What specifically makes it special, though? We asked three local film professionals from different parts of the industry to share their perspective on Atlanta as a filmmaking haven.

Brandon Mishawn is a cinematographer and Georgia State graduate, one of Atlanta’s premiere destinations for film education. Brandon’s education and professional career has evolved almost in sync with Atlanta’s emergence as a movie town. To Brandon, Atlanta offers a certain kind of opportunity that has only gotten more fruitful over time.

Brandon Mishawn on set
 “There's a wealth of opportunity for skilled shooters. I think that opportunity is what draws people to Atlanta... It doesn't have the roots and institutions like LA or NY but it makes up for that with affordability, opportunity, and the fact that vendors and rental houses are aggressively moving into this market.”

Atlanta is on the rise, but for whom? What kind of filmmaker or producer is really interested in making a movie here? Richard Hempton, who runs his own production company and is a member of IATSE 49, the entertainment labor union that teamed up with the state of Georgia to bring below-the-line job training to Georgia residents, sees a diverse market in Atlanta.

Richard Hempton
“A lot of big budget films are being attracted. Marvel seems to LOVE Atlanta, they have a ton scheduled here coming up. But even more exciting are the mid budgeted films. The films that aren’t huge blockbuster titles. There is a lot of real cinema coming to Atlanta, great stories and fantastic artists who will need competent crew. The talent pool in Atlanta is amazing (cast and crew) and is becoming more diverse every year.”

Justin Miller, an art director whose credits include, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” and “42,” also sees a diverse market for all sorts of filmmakers to thrive in.

Justin Miller on set
 “Well, the state is really versatile locations-wise, and there is a lot of southern charm and hospitality that makes it very easy on the eyes, but the biggest single reason, of course, is the tax incentive, so it really ends up being producers that want to capitalize on that. Going down the line, I’ve seen people of every walk, and in every position, from producer to PA, move to Atlanta for an increase in opportunity.”

 When asked about what the future holds for Atlanta, Justin keeps a restrained optimism.

 “It’s hard to know for sure. Detroit and New Orleans have proven that nothing is certain, and it can change at the tip of a hat. That said, there are infrastructure developments here that neither of those cities saw, and it certainly feels like the film industry at large is here to stay. I’ve always been excited about the point at which we will start to sustain an actual indie scene, and maybe even see some of the legislation to support that momentum. I think it’s happening already, with production companies like Fake Wood Wallpaper and POP Films.”

Hopefully Justin is right and the future for the Atlanta Film industry is already here. We intend on getting more perspectives from other Atlanta filmmakers as ShareGrid continues its rollout. Until then, happy shooting!

           

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Brent L Zaffino

I am a filmmaker out of Atlanta, Georgia currently working as a freelance director and videographer for music videos, short films, and corporate videos.

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