Filming in Atlanta: lights, camera, action!
With Gov. Nathan Deal reporting that the film industry contributed to Georgia’s bottom line to the tune of a whopping $2.7 billion in direct spending in 2017, as well as being at the epicenter of filming in the state, is it any wonder Atlanta is being referred to as the “new Hollywood”? According to georgia.org, Georgia’s Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides a 30% tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in Georgia, either in a single production or on multiple productions. Of course, you cannot speak about filming in Atlanta, or the state of Georgia, without mentioning Tyler Perry!
After moving to Atlanta in the early ’90s, a young Tyler Perry worked jobs as a bill collector and used car salesman to aid in saving the $12,000 that he would use to put toward his first major performance, I Know I’ve Been Changed. Fast forward, Perry would go on to sign a 100-episode deal for his sitcom Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. He then went on to partner with Oprah Winfrey to bring scripted television to her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Afterwards, he would strike a deal with ViacomCBS that included new, original content, featuring both sitcoms and dramatic series.
When asked during the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit what drove him to build his empire, Perry responded, “My father was a guy who was a carpenter—he would come home, make $800, and be really excited. But I would always see the guy who sold the house after he had built it right, and he would make $80,000. So, I was always more interested in being the guy who actually sold the house rather than the guy who was out building it…Also, I like the creative freedom…so I needed to be in a situation that fostered my ability to be able to do that.”
And what empire would be complete without a proper kingdom? In 2015, Perry acquired the 330-acre Fort McPherson and converted the former military base into Tyler Perry Studios. Located in the heart of Atlanta, this state-of-the-art studio, which happens to be the first studio to be owned outright by an African American, comes complete with 12 soundstages, each named after Black entertainment icons such as Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, Denzel Washington, and Halle Berry. Since opening the gates, Tyler Perry Studios has been available for filming to blockbuster movies such as Black Panther, Bad Boys 4 Life, and the upcoming Coming to America 2, as well as being the home for AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead.
And there’s more to come—after Georgia passed the controversial “heartbeat bill,” Perry told the Associated Press that he can’t just “up and leave” filming in Georgia. With a host of new content being created such as The Oval and Sistas, both dramatic series respectively showing on BET, Perry stated, “Atlanta has been the dream. It has been the promised land. So, when I got here, this whole state and city has been amazing to me, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Also, I put $250 million in the ground here and in the studio. So, when you have a quarter of a billion dollars sat down in the ground, you can’t just up and leave.”