A Long-Overdue Red Carpet Event For Savannah
By Charles Bowen
When it comes to the movie industry, Savannah is no Hollywood. Why? Because it is far better! For the past two years, the state of Georgia has been the world’s most popular filming destination (as evidenced by the ever-present Georgia Peach logo at the end of so many films and television shows). While the majority of these productions film in the Atlanta area, Savannah is the second-most popular destination in the state.
That’s right. Move over Los Angeles and New York. Over the past decade, Savannah has enjoyed record-breaking year after record-breaking year as a location for some of the most well-known productions in the film and television industry.
In 2018, more than 200 professional movie and television productions and 147 student projects were filmed in the Savannah area. According to the Savannah Regional Film Commission, these productions accounted for $120 million in direct spending locally and had a total economic impact of well over $250 million in FY 2018 alone. These figures shattered the record set in 2017 of $65 million in direct spending with $138 million in total local economic impact.
It would seem a celebration of Savannah’s rightful place in the television and film industry is long overdue.
As if right on cue, enter a glitzy new event on Savannah’s social calendar with the launch of the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala. Developed to recognize and honor several key local professionals for their invaluable contributions to the Savannah film and television industry, the event will make its debut this September.
The Gala will be open to the public so that everyone in town has the opportunity to experience an evening of Hollywood glamour right here in the Hostess City of the South. It also affords a chance for local businesses to show their support for an industry that is now intrinsic to our area’s present economy and financial future. It will honor Savannah’s rightful place as a key player in today’s film and television world while also giving a fun nod to the industry’s history through its theme of “Old Hollywood.”
The people who are doing great things to ensure Savannah’s rightful place in the film industry will be recognized and honored for their contributions. The Gala will not only be wildly entertaining, but it will shine the spotlight directly on many of the industry members who are quickly becoming shining stars (not to mention economic drivers) in our community.
The Gala will also feature an immersive theater experience whereby guests will interact and engage with live entertainers at an old Hollywood “High Society” gathering. There will be amazing food and drinks, special guests, live musical performances, and many other surprises. The goal is to give every attendee an experience they will remember for a long time.
Unfortunately, threats of a Georgia boycott have dominated the news recently. It’s time to wipe away the negativity. The Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala aims to shift the focus to all of the entertaining, fun, and positive aspects of the local entertainment industry.
The inaugural Savannah Film Alliance Gala will be held Saturday, September 28, at the new event venue, Victory North, located at 2603 Whitaker Street. All of the details can be found at savannahfilmalliance.org.
How to Get into the Film Industry
By Charles “Bo” Bowen
So you want to be in pictures? Considering that Savannah is transforming into a thriving entry point for film and television careers, you are definitely in the right place.
Until fairly recently, almost all roads leading to the film and television screen started in Los Angeles or New York City. Over the past decade, however, advances in technology and financial incentives like those the state of Georgia adopted in 2008 have expanded the industry far beyond California and New York. Georgia has been the primary beneficiary of this expansion with Atlanta topping the list of current filming locations and significantly-smaller Savannah coming in second.
If you are interested in becoming a part of Georgia’s film industry, you should know one thing up front: no one starts at the top. The movie and television industry rewards experience and is merit-based. Anyone willing to work hard and maintain a positive attitude in the high-paced and stressful world of film production, however, will likely find themselves progressing quickly.
Granted, experience is crucial to success in almost all professions, but it is especially true in the entertainment industry. When a production begins filming, hundreds of strangers come together to work intensely on a single project — often for months at a time — and then immediately move on to the next opportunity. There may be a few stories of overnight success, but for the most part, those individuals worked hard for 20 years to earn that “overnight” success.
If you believe a career in movies might be a good fit, it is always a good idea to give your interests a thorough test drive. A great place to start is to work as an extra on one of the numerous productions in and around Savannah.
Working as an extra largely consists of waiting around for hours for a few minutes of work as a background player with no lines and minimal pay. But it is a prime opportunity to watch what film professionals are doing. Does it look interesting? Can you cope with the rigid top-down management and stressful environment? Does the reality look as appealing in person as it did in your imagination?
Casting calls are typically well covered in local media, thus finding an opportunity to work as an extra can be as simple as searching “casting in Savannah GA” on the internet. Casting calls are also often listed on the Savannah Regional Film Commission’s website, savannahfilm.org, or you can send a request to join www.facebook.com/groups/savannahextras.
If you still feel drawn to invest in a film-related future after being on a set, Savannah has you covered. Thanks to Savannah Technical College, our city hosts one of the 12 campuses of the Georgia Film Academy. This unique partnership of the University System of Georgiaand the Technical College System of Georgiaprovides a certification program of 18 credit hours, complete with internship opportunities.
Georgia Film Academystudents study a curriculum of on-set production, set construction and scenic painting, lighting and electric, grip and rigging, introduction to special makeup effects, post-production effects and, in the future, production accounting.
At $89.00 per credit hour (plus fees) at the technical college level, you can complete the entire course of study in just two semesters for a very affordable price. This can be a worthy investment to help break into a field where the Georgia Film Academyestimates an average salary is $84,000.00 a year (not to mention retirement benefits and health insurance coverage).
The required introductory course is currently on the schedule for Savannah Tech’s summer semester.
These types of jobs are on the production crew. There is a tremendous need for local crew in Savannah and once you receive the requisite training and experience, work should be easy to find. If you are more interested in the creative side of the process (directors, screenwriters, actors, etc.), there is still far more than just luck involved.
Savannah has a number of successful theater groups where you can audition for local productions to help you explore whether acting may be for you. There are also quite a few acting classes and workshops taught locally to help you hone your skills. Savannah offers college and university resources for those careers, as well. You can pursue theatrical performance degree programs at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong and Statesboro campuses as well as Savannah State University. Savannah College of Art and Designoffers programs in almost every spectrum of the creative side of the entertainment industry from highly-skilled and respected professionals.
Most importantly, do not give up.
Almost everyone enters the film industry slowly for little pay to learn firsthand what the entertainment world is all about while gaining practical skills and making all-important contacts prior to finding success. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, Savannah’s film production boom ensures the opportunity is there for the taking.
Business and entertainment attorney Charles “Bo” Bowen is the founder of Southern Gateway Production Services. He started the production services company with the mission to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers by providing them connections with local crew, vendors and service providers. Bowen is also recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliancein 2015. As the founder of The Bowen Law Group, he has also developed a reputation as one of Georgia’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law. http://www.thebowenlawgroup.com
Attorney Charles Bowen Honored by Georgia Senate Resolution and Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award
(ATLANTA, GA) A resolution passed by the Georgia State Senate has recognized Savannah attorney Charles “Bo” Bowen for his services to both the state’s entertainment industry and to its legal profession.
The Senate resolution was sponsored by State Sens. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) and Ben Watson (R-Savannah) and praises Bowen’s role in promoting Savannah’s growing movie and television industry. The resolution cites, in part, the reasons for the recognition: “Bo founded the Savannah Film Alliancein 2015 to foster cooperation and collaboration within the local entertainment industry; he is also the founder and president of Southern Gateway Production Services, which provides support to all out-of-town productions coming to the region; and he is the co-founder of Aeroscope Studios, the author of three eBooks on business and entertainment law, and currently serves on numerous corporate boards and councils.”
The resolution also recaps business honors Bowen has received. They include being named “Business Advocate of the Year” by the Savannah Morning News, winning the “Helen V. Head Business Leader of the Year Award” from the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerceand receiving additional accolades from the legal profession.
The full text of the resolution can be found here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20192020/183638.pdf.
Bowenfirst met with Governor Brian Kemp before heading to the Senate floor. Sen. Jackson then read the resolution aloud and invited Bowento address the Senate. He was then named an Outstanding Georgia Citizen by the Georgia Secretary of State.
The recognition from the Secretary of Statereads: “May this Outstanding Citizen be afforded every courtesy as a Goodwill Ambassador from Georgia in his travels to other states, to nations beyond the borders of the United States of America, or wherever he may hereafter travel or reside. Thank you for your service to our State.”
Bowen’s two daughters accompanied him to the Georgia State Capitol. In his remarks before the Senate, Bowenstated: “I am deeply honored, and I am very grateful that my two teenage daughters could be here today to see firsthand that working hard in your profession and trying to help others succeed does not go unnoticed. I know that is a lesson they will carry with them into adulthood. I also want to thank all of you, the leaders of the State of Georgia, for the tremendous work you have done in promoting the entertainment industry and helping ensure every year that Georgia remains the greatest place in the world to conduct business.”
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOWEN LAW GROUP
Based out of Savannah, Charles Bowenis a business attorney who focuses on commercial and entertainment law. Bowen attended Mercer Universityin Macon, Ga., where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in both psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown UniversityLaw Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. Bowenhas received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest rating based upon confidential surveys sent to other attorneys. He also has been selected by the members of the State Bar of Georgia as one of Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite in two categories: Business Law and Corporate Law. With panoramic views of the city and the Savannah River, The Bowen Law Groupis located on the top floor of the Manger Building at 7 East Congress Street. For more information, call 912.544.2050 or visit thebowenlawgroup.com. Follow The Bowen Law Groupon Twitter at @bowenlawgroup.
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The Bowen Law Group Hires Attorney Ryan Schmidt
(SAVANNAH, GA) Ryan Schmidt, a former touring singer/songwriter, has joined The Bowen Law Group, a corporate and entertainment law firm, as an associate attorney.
Schmidt, who toured extensively as a musician prior to law school, appeared on NBC’s “The Voice” and his music has been featured on the Apple iTunes’ “New Music Page.” He also won “Critics’ Choice” at the Starbucks Music Makers Competition and served as community manager for Redstar Media, a two-time Emmy winning multimedia and production firm in Boston.
“Ryan is a rising star and a key addition to our team of entertainment sector advisers,” said Charles Bowen, Founder of The Bowen Law Group. “We are excited to have him join our office as the volume of work we do throughout Georgia and the Southeast continues to grow.”
Schmidt attended Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, where he graduated summa cum laude and served on the Law Review Executive Board. He also clerked for a Nashville-based law firm representing clients in the music industry, fine arts, and digital media.
“With everything happening in the film industry in and around Savannah, it is a great time to be working with a firm whose efforts are helping grow a sustainable local entertainment industry for generations to come,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, a native of Atkinson, NH, is married to Hillary Schmidt, a Savannah College of Art and Design graduate who works with the Savannah-based museum and exhibit design firm DMDG2.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOWEN LAW GROUP
Based in Savannah, Charles Bowen is a business attorney who focuses on commercial and entertainment law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. Bowen attended Mercer University in Macon, Ga., where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in both psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. Bowen was named “Business Advocate of the Year” in 2015 by the Savannah Morning News. He won the “2016 Helen V. Head Business Leader of the Year Award” presented by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the 24th Annual Kiss-a-Pig campaign on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. Bowen has received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest rating based upon confidential surveys sent to other attorneys. He also has been selected by the members of the State Bar of Georgia as one of Georgia Trend’s 12th Annual Legal Elite in two categories: Business Law and Corporate Law. He is the author of three eBooks. With panoramic views of the city and the Savannah River, The Bowen Law Groupis located on the top floor of the Manger Building at 7 East Congress Street. For more information, call 912.544.2050 or visit www.thebowenlawgroup.com. Follow The Bowen Law Groupon Twitter at @bowenlawgroup.
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SCCPSS Student Film Festival Emceed by Charles Bowen
(SAVANNAH, GA) 190 SCCPSS students from 16 schools at all levels were awarded District recognition and advanced to state-level competition in the Georgia Student Media Festival this month. The student work was done on 68 projects in five different production types, including Animation, Audio Podcast, Live Action, Sequential Stills and Web Site.
All 190 students were honored at the SCCPSS Student Film and Media Festival held at the Yamacraw Performing Arts Center. Small clips of state-level winning entries were shown at the festival. The public was invited to attend.
Charles Bowen, of The Bowen Law Group, served as the event’s emcee. Bowen is recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015. The organization promotes the film community within Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through advocacy and action via education, outreach and collaboration. He has recently founded Southern Gateway Production Services to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers coming to Savannah to film their projects.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOWEN LAW GROUP
Based out of Savannah, Charles Bowen is a business attorney who focuses on commercial and entertainment law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. Bowen attended Mercer University in Macon, Ga., where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in both psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. Bowen was named “Business Advocate of the Year” in 2015 by the Savannah Morning News. He won the “2016 Helen V. Head Business Leader of the Year Award” presented by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the 24th Annual Kiss-a-Pig campaign on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. Bowen has received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest rating based upon confidential surveys sent to other attorneys. He also has been selected by the members of the State Bar of Georgia as one of Georgia Trend’s 12th Annual Legal Elite in two categories: Business Law and Corporate Law. He is the author of three eBooks. With panoramic views of the city and the Savannah River, The Bowen Law Group is located on the top floor of the Manger Building at 7 East Congress Street. For more information, call 912.544.2050 or visit thebowenlawgroup.com. Follow The Bowen Law Group on Twitter at @bowenlawgroup.
Adoption Bill Endangers Georgia’s Economy and Reputation
By: Charles Bowen, Esq.
In a clear effort to legalize discrimination against the gay community, the Georgia Senate recently passed a bill authorizing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse to provide any service that violates their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
This bill was thankfully rejected.
The entertainment industry is thriving in Georgia, generating $9.5 billion in 2017. History has shown that legalizing discrimination can instantly destroy this progress.
In 2016, North Carolina passed the infamous “bathroom bill.” The fallout was immediate. The state lost $4 billion in revenue as major businesses pulled out of the state, film and television shows relocated, musical artists canceled concerts, and the NBA and NCAA withdrew sporting events.
In Georgia, numerous businesses and individuals have already publicly stated that they would stop doing business in Georgia passed any similar law legalizing discrimination.
Writer and producer Ben Wexler, the showrunner on “The Grinder” and “Arrested Development,” made his feelings about the adoption bill clear on Twitter: “To my fellow showrunners: if this dumb bill becomes law, let’s be done filming television shows in Georgia.”
Alyssa Milano, who is filming the Netflix series “Insatiable” in Atlanta, agreed. “If it does pass the House of Representatives and if the Governor signs the bill, I think the film and entertainment industry will take a strong stand and will pack up and leave the state of Georgia,” Milano said. “There is just no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”
Such discriminatory laws are also flagrantly unconstitutional. We are all constitutionally entitled to equal protection under the law. And while we also enjoy freedom of religion, personal religious beliefs may not be used to justify actions that are illegal or harmful to others. If you refuse to pay your taxes, stating that you did not pay because of your religion is not going to help.
If Georgia were to allow public adoption agencies to refuse adoptions based on religious beliefs, for example, nothing would require them to stop with gay couples. The same law could be used to discriminate against single parents, divorced men and women, unwed couples or individuals of different races or faiths, including Christianity.
Regardless of the rhetoric emanating from a few clock stoppers in the legislature who were pandering for votes, denying even one single child a parent who wants to love and support that child unconditionally is indefensible and immortal. We must remain vigilant that Georgia remains a state that is welcoming to all.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SOUTHERN GATEWAY PRODUCTION SERVICES
Entertainment attorney Charles Bowen founded Southern Gateway Production Services with the mission to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers by providing connections with local crew, vendors and service providers. Southern Gateway Production Services is a signatory to all IATSE National Term Agreements. Bowen is recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015. As the founder of The Bowen Law Group, he has also developed a reputation as one of Savannah’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law. Southern Gateway Production Services is located at 7 East Congress St, Suite 1001. For more information, contact Charles Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org 912-544-2050.
Divorce is About Making Good Financial Decisions
By Sam Hubbard
Principal, Coastal Divorce Advisors
While you’re in the midst of a divorce, you’re going to have to weigh a lot of financial choices while dealing with the weight of strong emotions. You can minimize emotional stress by anticipating what decisions you have to make and understanding what’s involved in making them.
Below are common hurdles that people who are divorcing need to be aware of and the factors they need to consider to make confident, constructive decisions.
Can you afford to keep your home?
While you may have a personal attachment to your house, especially since your kids call it “home,” it is ultimately a huge expense to maintain year after year. All too often, the spouse who wants to keep the house only analyzes whether he or she can cover the mortgage and the property taxes, but fails to consider the “oh no’s”: “Oh no, the built-in refrigerator broke,” “Oh no, the HVAC system needs to be replaced, “Oh no, we have termites.”
Unforeseen expenses can cost thousands of dollars and could cause you to lose your house, or worse, push you toward bankruptcy. While a house is an asset, it is ultimately an expense. Make sure to take all homeownership costs – anticipated and unexpected – into account and try to remove emotion when deciding whether you can afford to keep the house.
Should you divide your property down the middle?
When you begin a divorce, it’s only natural to think “all our assets should be split right down the middle.” But since no two assets are created equal, this type of thinking may put you at the short end of the stick.
In a divorce, it’s common for spouses to divide property by what they see as equivalent value. For example, if one spouse gets the house, the other spouse may get the investment accounts, both valued around the same amount.
But tread carefully. Some assets, like certain pensions, may be completely illiquid and cannot be sold or transferred to a spouse. Others assets may have significant tax implications from a low-cost basis or may have large transaction fees (like the sale of a house). Make sure you initiate a complete analysis of the assets before making any decisions.
Do you want to tackle debt before your divorce?
If your spouse ran up balances on your credit cards during your marriage, in the bank’s eyes, it’s a shared responsibility, no matter who did the spending — even if the court decides your ex-spouse is responsible for it all.
Banks can still come after you for payments your ex-spouse didn’t make, jeopardizing your finances and damaging your credit score for years. Making the choice to pay off as much debt as possible before you finalize the divorce is often a good one.
Should you protect yourself from unanticipated events?
If you will be receiving alimony and child support, what happens if your ex-spouse passes away or becomes seriously disabled? Would you be able to support yourself and your kids if you no longer receive these payments? Consider purchasing life and disability insurance specifically tailored for divorce so support payments continue if something unforeseen happens to your ex-spouse.
Should you evaluate your settlement agreement from a current perspective?
When looking at a settlement proposal, what may seem like a great deal now could quickly turn into financial ruin down the road. You need to make sure you don’t evaluate your proposed settlement by your current costs or budget but by how your finances will look in 5 or 10 years.
Projecting your cost of living will help you determine the long-term consequences of a settlement option and whether you’ll be financially well-positioned years after the divorce. Make sure you have accurate projections on-hand and do not rush into signing a proposal just to be done with it.
Can you be disciplined to make financial decisions in unison, not one by one?
When going through a divorce, looking at any single financial aspect in a vacuum and not seeing how it relates to others could cost you. The division of assets and liabilities, tax consequences, inflation, alimony, and child support are all pieces of the settlement puzzle that need to work together to help ensure the most favorable settlement agreement. For example, if you have income from your job and agree to take a large alimony payment, you may be pushed into a higher tax bracket than if you were to increase the amount you receive in non-taxable child support.
Take a careful, comprehensive approach to your finances to have a better chance of coming out ahead.
Sam Hubbard, MBA, CFA, CDFA is the principal of Coastal Divorce Advisors, LLC, (CDA), a firm specializing in helping clients understand their financial situation and options throughout the divorce process. CDA is an affiliate of Coastal Capital Management, LLC. For additional information, e-mail Sam@CoastalDivorceAdvisors.com, call 912-234-3657 or visit www.CoastalDivorceAdvisors.com. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney. If you require legal advice, please seek appropriate legal representation.