Fayette County News

Fayette County


Gov. Deal voices concerns over local film crew shortage

Georgia Military College’s newest campus, currently under construction on Veteran’s Parkway in Fayetteville, will be geared toward supporting the educational needs of next-door neighbors Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Pinewood Atlanta Studios. (Photo by Danny Harrison)

When Georgia Military College representatives last year showed an interest in expanding their institution into the City of Fayetteville, city officials quickly moved to accommodate them.

Only a few months later, a large concrete slab and erected steel can be seen on the site where GMC will soon open doors to their newest satellite campus.

While city leaders have said for years they would like to attract the permanent presence of an institution of higher learning, GMC’s arrival represents more than just college-level training. This new college campus represents the ability to funnel job-ready, film studies students into the burgeoning Georgia-based movie industry, and namely into Fayetteville-based Pinewood Atlanta Studios.

According to the Feb. 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Georgia’s need for local film industry crew members is more urgent than many Georgians may realize.

According to that WSJ article by Cameron McWhirter and Erich Schwartzel, about half of a surveyed group of producers, directors and other film industry leaders said “they were unable to hire all the workers they needed locally.”

That article also quoted Governor Nathal Deal as saying, “Georgia cannot afford for another state to do to us what we are doing to Hollywood.”

Deal was reportedly speaking to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce at a January breakfast when making that comment. He was referring, of course, to the fact that Georgia now has such an aggressive tax credit program for the film industry that many movie productions that might have been filmed in California are now coming to Georgia. This program is the chief reason United Kingdom-based Pinewood Studios sought to expand its United States operations in Georgia’s direction.

However, because Georgia’s popularity spike as a filming location is relatively new, the local pool of skilled workers is relatively shallow.

Recently, Deal visited Pinewood’s Buckinghamshire studio campus and reportedly discussed ramping up film industry educational programs within the state’s university system. Specifically, he mentioned Fayetteville being a good place for a proposed Georgia Film Academy, leaving locals guessing he was referring to the former Rivers Elementary School building, which was purchased by an Atlanta-based investment group which has since merged the property with the Pinewood Atlanta Studios campus located directly across Sandy Creek Road.

Whether the defunct Rivers Elementary School building hosts the proposed Georgia Film Academy or not, GMC chiefs boldly assert that they will offer film industry classes as soon as this fall from their Fayetteville campus.