My son and I were watching a TV show and at the end there was a blurb about it being made in Georgia. I said to him "I guarantee that "filmed in Georgia" translates to "subsidized by Georgia." He did not believe me, and could not understand why anyone would subsidize film production. After all, we can argue about whether any government subsidized jobs make sense or just cannibalize investment in other areas, but film jobs are the most temporary and fleeting of all jobs.
Turns out I was right (I followed a web link from the credits):
Georgia production incentives provide up to 30% of your Georgia production expenditures in transferable tax credits.
The program is available for qualifying projects, including feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, animation and game development. With one of the industry’s most competitive production incentive programs, the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office can help you dramatically cut production costs without sacrificing quality.
Highlights from the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act include the following:
- 20% across the board, transferable flat tax credit with a minimum of $500,000 spent on qualified production and post production expenditures within Georgia
- Additional 10% tax credit if a production company includes an imbedded Georgia promotional logo in the qualified feature film, TV series, music video or video game project
- Provides same tax credits to all instate and out-of-state labor working in Georgia, plus standard fringes qualify
- No limits or caps on Georgia spend; no sunset clause
- For commercials and music videos, a production company may group multiple projects together to meet the $500,000 minimum spend on qualified expenditures
This is just insane. WTF is the state doing subsidizing 30% of the cost of making commercials? What could possibly justify this, except that this is a sexy business and it gives politicians a chance to rub shoulders with film people? Why are Georgia business people taxed in order to hand money film producers? What makes film production a "good" industry and, say, campgrounds a bad one?
Well, I suppose it could be argued that filming in Georgia would help advertise Georgia by showing scenes filmed on location in the state. Except that the show we were watching was Archer, an animated series about spies based in New York City. Not one second of the TV show has ever shown or ever will show a live image of Georgia, and I am almost all the way through the second season and not one location in the state of Georgia has been mentioned (though they might have mentioned the one in Asia).