Georgia Film Industry Faring Better than California’s Due to State’s COVID-19 Policies, Deputy Commissioner Says


The people who work for Georgia’s film and television studios are not only working again but working more frequently than their counterparts at competing studios in California and the United Kingdom.

That’s because officials in Georgia’s state government have a more lenient COVID-19 policy. Georgia studios opened back up not long after the start of the pandemic.

This, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office Monday as she spoke at the Georgia General Assembly.

“The reason they have returned to work more quickly than the competition is [because of] the state’s decision to let the industry regulate itself and get back to work,” Thomas told members of the House Creative Arts & Entertainment Committee.

“They [the studios] have stringent safety protocols. They have a tremendous amount of testing. Because of that, their positivity rate on all of their tests is less than 1 percent.”

Disney, NBC-Universal, Netflix, Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers were among the studios that resumed production in Georgia, Thomas said.

According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, film and television studios take advantage of a state tax credit to film within the state. Studio executives can apply that tax credit to 20 percent of a production’s qualified expenditures in Georgia. They may also earn a potential 10 percent Georgia Entertainment Promotion uplift by including an embedded Georgia logo on approved projects.

“Only production companies are eligible to apply for these credits (sound stages do not qualify),” said GDEcD spokeswoman Marie Gordon, in an email to The Georgia Star News Monday.

“There is a salary cap of $500,000 per person, per production, for salaried employees.”

Thomas told state house members Monday that the film and television industry spent $2.9 billion in Georgia in 2019.

“This year, losing the months that we lost, we went down to $2.2 billion, which was still very good,” Thomas said.

“We still had 234 feature films, television productions, commercials, and music videos.”

Thomas went on to say that these companies made a commitment to produce 75 projects and invest more than $2 billion in Georgia’s economy during the next 18 months. They also committed to purchase goods and services from more than 17,000 small Georgia businesses.

Officials at those film studios, who generally lean left-of-center politically, have also tried to use their clout to influence Georgia’s political landscape.

As Atlanta Magazine reported in 2019, they and various actors threatened to boycott Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law that would have banned most abortions after six weeks. A federal judge has since struck down the law.

As The Star News reported in November, Democratic activist and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tapped Hollywood’s elite to help elect current U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

Watch the Lee Thomas’ full remarks:

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to  





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