Georgia filmmaking fails to innovate

How Georgia’s film industry is falling into the same trap as Hollywood


Pinewood Studios

The boat scene from “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was filmed in one of Pinewood Studios’ backlots. Pinewood Studios’ backlot spans over 400 acres and the studio as a whole owns 700 acres.

Brock Spence, Staff Writer

Georgia is quickly becoming the ‘Hollywood of the East Coast’ as more and more major companies continue to film in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs. The move was kickstarted with the debut of the “The Walking Dead” in 2010, which still amasses over 15 million viewers per episode. Senoia continues to be the home of the fictional town of Woodbury and The Walking Dead Museum, as well.

[T]his seemingly positive trend could take a negative turn if Georgia recreates the shortcomings of Hollywood in the film industry, which it appears on track to do.”

— Staff Writer Brock Spence

More recently, in 2013, Georgia became home to even more comic book adaptations following the expansion of Pinewood Studios into Fayetteville, Georgia. Since its opening, Pinewood Studios has been credited in the release of 5 Marvel films, with “Avengers: Infinity War” being the most recent release. Actors from Marvel movies and their filming crews have also been regularly spotted around Peachtree City and Fayetteville.

The rapid growth of Georgia’s film industry is fantastic for the state’s economy, with over $9.5 billion being brought into Georgia’s economy last year. Filmmakers are attracted by the extensive tax incentives offered in Georgia, which helps make a film more profitable than it would be in California. In the last two years, Georgia has even managed to surpass California in total major films released.

At the surface level, this is all great news. After all, seeing parts of Atlanta in major films creates a bit of nostalgia and even pride in residents. However, this seemingly positive trend could take a negative turn if Georgia recreates the shortcomings of Hollywood in the film industry, which it appears on track to do.

The main failure of Hollywood when it came to filmmaking was over-saturation and its failure to innovate. Major film corporations were attracted to Hollywood by the mass of studios in the area reducing film costs. In the beginning, this was great. The early 1930s saw the birth of the western and the beginnings of the horror genre. As time went on, Hollywood continued to adapt to social changes, helping to create the progressive state of California we know today.

However, there came a point where Hollywood stopped being innovative. Filmmakers became more concerned about putting out simple cash grabs as opposed to thought provoking pieces. Hollywood quickly became synonymous with cheesy blockbusters that were forgotten as soon as they left the big screen.

Brock Spence
Over the past 10 years Georgia has become the home of several large franchises. The business is fantastic for the economy. However, it only exists because of recent tax incentives and could easily move if other states pass similar incentives.

Georgia appears to be falling into the same trap as Hollywood did years before. Since its opening, Pinewood has failed to produce any groundbreaking films and instead relies on established brands, such as Marvel, rather than the creativity of writers who are native to Georgia. Of its releases, only two films are unrelated to Marvel Studios, including “Passengers,” which flopped in the box office and only pulled in revenue due to the presence of big name actors (one of which is also affiliated with Marvel Studios).

In this mess of pop culture, Georgia is failing to tell its own stories and instead is pushing out quick blockbusters, much like Hollywood did before it. The south has a deep history and previous authors, such as Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell, have found success exploring it on paper. Doing so on the screen could help differentiate Georgia’s industry from that of Hollywood.

If Georgia would like to avoid the same trap that Hollywood fell into, it will have to not only pull in the major studios but also the smaller indie films, which are beginning to take over the industry with the rise of distributors such as A24 and the popularity of the Sundance Film Festival. In order to compete in the film industry Georgia will have to make itself more than a tax break. Any state can replicate that. Instead, Georgia should look to encourage innovation and ingenuity by sponsoring local film festivals so that smaller writers can tell their stories, too.

Failure to inspire such innovation could lead Georgia to the same fate that befell Hollywood as big-name studios find new ways to cut costs of their films and move onto other locations.