3. Savannah, Georgia
It’s all about location. The first planned city in the U.S., Savannah retained its original layout with 22 public squares, brick streets, and an architectural timeline dating back to 1733. “Period locations abound that easily double for 19th-century U.S. or European cities, and our marshes and swamps have often played as Southeast Asia,” said William Hammargren, director of the Savannah Film Office. So if it’s atmospheric, character-filled settings your film requires, this city is a good bet. Though Savannah is five and a half hours from Atlanta, it’s also close to Asheville and Wilmington, North Carolina, meaning a triply large crew base is available within driving distance.
In 2014, Savannah hosted production of Magic Mike XXL, Sinking Sand, Left Behind: The Kids and Detours. The dollars generated in 2014 exceeded $39.8 million, making the hearty 20 to 30 percent Georgia tax credits a good investment for the local economy.
Savannah’s also the home base of film school heavyweight Savannah College of Art and Design (the university also has campuses in nearby Atlanta, and not-so-nearby Hong Kong and France). SCAD presents the top-notch annual Savannah Film Festival at its Trustees and Lucas theaters.
Jason Rosin, business agent for IATSE Local 491, studio mechanics of the Carolinas and Savannah, said, “I flew in here eight years ago when somebody said this was the perfect place to work. I went up the coast and met the crews, and said, ‘She was absolutely right. This is the perfect place.’ So I ended up staying.”