Butts County has been designated as a “Camera Ready” community by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The announcement was made by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the State Capitol Building during a press conference and ceremony that was held on March 21st, 2011. The Camera Ready Community Program was developed and put into place last year by the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Department of Economic Development, as a response to Georgia’s rapidly growing film and television industry. Camera Ready is a designation that lets film and television production companies know that the county has a program in place that will offer them easier, faster and better access to local resources and information. In order to receive this prestigious designation, a county must first designate a liaison to the film industry that can assist film and television production companies on the local level. Once this is done, there is a lengthy list of requirements and information that must be compiled and sent in to the state offices for approval and inclusion in a database of resources. These requirements were completed in January of this year and submitted for approval.
Butts County Commissioner G.S. “Gator” Hodges became aware of the program while a participant in the most recent Leadership Georgia program. He acted quickly to bring the program to the attention of the other members of the Board of Commissioners at the November 8th commission meeting, citing the potential economic advantages to the county should any film or television production company find suitable locations in the county. ”Georgia is now among the top five states in the nation for film and TV production with more than 335 productions shot in Georgia during the last fiscal year” Hodges commented. ” That added up to almost 760 million dollars in investments to Georgia and those dollars mostly went into the communities where those productions filmed. There is a lot of revenue potential for Butts County in this industry but more importantly, there can be tremendous long-term advantages”. The Board of Commissioners agreed with his assessment and voted to name Deputy County Administrator Michael Brewer as the official county representative to the Georgia Film Industry.
The long-term advantages that Hodges refers to are the ongoing interest in communities where successful films are made. Juliette Georgia is a prime example. The film production company responsible for the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” virtually restored the rapidly fading town of Juliette, just south of Butts County, to pristine condition for the filming of the movie. After the movie came out, it was a huge success and for the past 20 years, tourists from all over the country have come to visit Juliette and spend tourism dollars in the now-thriving town. Another example is Savannah, which the book and movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” brought newfound fame and recognition to-as well as an unabated stream of visitors eager to experience Savannah. Butts County has many venues that would provide ideal locations for filming and these were compiled by Brewer and submitted to qualify Butts County as a Camera Ready Community. “Georgia is a beautiful place for location shooting and some of the best locations in the state can be found right here in Butts County” said Brewer. “We have historic structures all over the county like the courthouse and downtown square in Jackson, old churches, the Indian Springs Hotel and the Carmichael House just to name a few. If you want scenic natural locations, we have Indian Springs and Dauset Trails, as well as both Jackson Lake and High Falls Lake. There are numerous old homes, farmland and rivers all over our county. I think we have many attractive treasures, both well-known ones and probably a few nobody has thought much about. My goal is to put our best foot forward and let the industry know we welcome them to Butts County and we want them here”.
Brewer and Butts County Commission Chairman Roger McDaniel (above, fifth row up) attended the ceremonies at the Georgia Capitol on Monday along with representatives of other communities that have achieved this designation. ”I think that in committing ourselves to this program and appointing a representative to oversee this initiative locally, that we are sending a clear message that Butts County welcomes the film industry” stated Chairman McDaniel. “It can work to our advantage on so many different fronts including the investment of outside dollars into Butts County as well as providing jobs for local citizens. The greatest asset we have to offer the film industry is ourselves-our friendly citizens, our inviting towns and communities, our scenic natural vistas and our historic places-all of which add up to a pretty attractive package”.
So how does it all work? Once a county is designated as a Camera Ready Community, the information submitted by the local representative goes into a large database of resources. Movie and television production companies go through the Georgia film office when they are looking for a particular location to shoot footage in and they detail the things they are looking to find in a location. For example, if a company was looking for a historic home to film, the database would return a list of potential sites, one of which might be the Carmichael House in Jackson or the Willis Home in Indian Springs. Studio executives would then contact the local representative and send location managers to meet with them and go out to the various sites to gather more detail. If one of the locations proved ideal, the local representative would work with them to meet with property owners, local officials and others who might need to be involved. The more willing to work with them that the local officials and citizens can make it for a film production company to work here can have a greater impact on a final decision to choose Butts County as a location for a film to be made here. Several sites have already been submitted as preliminary locations to be included in the database pending permission from any privately owned properties. Over the next few weeks, Brewer will be out making photographs of these locations to include in the database, using the springtime backdrop as an opportunity to showcase various locations in their best possible light.
For more information, contact Michael Brewer with the Butts County Commissioners Office at 770-775-8200 or email email@example.com