Georgia’s film program is on track to surpass the $1 billion it brought to the state in 2010.
A Denzel Washington film will start shooting in Atlanta in October, marking the next big budget project to come to the state.
The film is run by Paramount Pictures and directed by Robert Zemeckis, who won an Academy Award for “Forrest Gump.”
It’s called “Flight”, about a commercial airline pilot who saves 98 lives when he safely lands a damaged plane.
Film directors are drawn to Georgia in part because of the tax credit program in place, said Peter Stathopoulos, shareholder at Atlanta accounting firm Bennett Thrasher P.C.
“It’s attracted a large amount of investment in the state,” he said.
The credits work like this: filmmakers who agree to do a project here register with the Department of Economic Development. Once a project has spent $500,000 in the state, it qualifies for the credit.
The credit will cover up to 30 percent of the expenditures of making a movie, television show or commercial here.
“If you make your movie in Georgia versus a state that doesn’t have an incentive, it’s 30 percent cheaper,” Stathopoulos said. “That’s a compelling reason to make your movie here.”
Before the program, the state’s production economy sat around $30 million, and most of that came from Turner Broadcasting System Inc., he said.
In 2010, $1 billion was spent on movie projects in the state, including the television shows “Walking Dead” and “Vampire Diaries” and the recently released feature films “Contagion” and “The Change-Up.”
And there’s a secondary market for the incentives.
If a film production doesn’t have any tax liability, it can’t use the credits to offset that tax, rendering it useless.
Instead, it can sell the credits to individuals or companies who do have income tax liability.
The market for the credits usually runs at 80 cents or 90 cents on the dollar, meaning a person owing a large amount of income tax can buy the credits at a discount, rather than paying the tax in full.
“They’re really versatile,” Stathopoulos said of the credits. “It’s an easy way to monetize the credits and it defrays part of the capital raise for the film,” he said.
Article written by Kat Greene for Atlanta Business Chronicle