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.
Boycotts and Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill
By Charles Bowen
As every parent knows, children’s fairy tales and fables are often founts of considerable insight and wisdom.
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” sheds considerable light on politicians who vainly strut on the state and national stage. “Cinderella” contains valuable lessons regarding the mistreatment of the poor. It is one of Aesop’s Fables that is most directly relevant to today’s headlines, however: “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.”
The story recounts the tale of a farmer who owned a goose that laid a solid gold egg every morning. While these eggs made the farmer a wealthy man, he still wanted more. “Then one day the idea came to him that he could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the goose and cutting it open. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg did he find and his precious goose was dead.”
The state of Georgia has its own such rare and valuable goose. It is our film and television industry, and we have fed and cared for it well. Due to a combination of economic incentives, workforce development, and commitment to infrastructure, Georgia has become one of the most preferred destinations in the world for film and television productions.
Over the past several years, these productions have had an economic impact in our state of roughly $10 billion annually. Locally, we hosted approximately 200 professional film and television productions in 2018 that accounted for $250 million in direct spending in Chatham County alone.
The question our state faces now, however, is whether the passage of Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” may result in a costly boycott by the film and television industry. Such a boycott has been threatened by several actors and professional organizations.
For those unfamiliar, the proposed law would ban abortion as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, which typically happens around six weeks into a pregnancy. This law would be one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country, particularly considering that most women do not even realize they are pregnant at six weeks. As of this writing, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has not yet signed the Georgia legislation, but there is little doubt that he will do so.
There is almost unanimous agreement, even among its proponents, that the law is patently unconstitutional. It is specifically designed to attempt to get the question of abortion rights back before a U.S. Supreme Court that is now stacked with conservatives. The real goal is to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1974 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. But it is a long way to the Supreme Court, and every effort to pass a similar bill in other states (18 at last count) has been struck down before it has reached that level.
It is this legal layer of protection that I believe is likely to temper any threatened boycott from the entertainment industry. While there will certainly be action and anger from some, it is unlikely to result in an industry-wide consensus to boycott the state of Georgia unless and until a fetal heartbeat bill were to survive the inevitable court challenge and actually go into effect.
By way of analogy, imagine if the Savannah City Council enacted a local ordinance stating that no one over six feet tall was allowed to own a local business. While such an action would obviously inspire immediate anger, most reasonable people would understand that due to our system of legal checks and balances, there would no need for panic because of the certainty that such an unenforceable ordinance would be immediately struck down by the courts.
As far as the heartbeat bill, the vast majority of the entertainment industry will likely wait and see what ultimately happens. But they will absolutely be taking notes.
Inaugural Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala to Recognize Film and Television Professionals
(SAVANNAH, GA) Savannah’s calendar of social events gets a glamorous new entry this year with the launch of the Savannah Film Alliance Honors Gala. The Gala will recognize and honor several key professionals for their invaluable contributions to the local film and television industry. The theme of the event will be “Old Hollywood” and will be held Saturday, September 28, at the new event venue, Victory North, located at 2603 Whitaker Street.
Entertainment will be the focal point of this red carpet event. The Savannah Film Alliance (SFA) will invite its membership of filmmakers, musicians, and actors to show off their talents throughout the night.
There is also an immersive theater experience planned for the event, whereby guests will interact and engage with live entertainers at an old Hollywood “High Society” gathering. “The immersive experience is designed to transport event attendees back in time into a glamorous alternate reality,” said Charles Bowen, founder of the SFA. “This is the cutting edge of live theater and I think people will remember this night for a long time.”
The entertainment industry is a force to be reckoned with in Georgia as it has grown in the last decade from $240 million in 2007 to almost $10 billion in 2018 with 30 to 40 productions underway in the state at any given time. In Savannah alone, the economic impact from motion picture and television productions has risen from $26 million in 2012 to $254.6 million in 2018.
While threats of a Georgia boycott have dominated the news recently, the SFA Honors Gala aims to shift the focus instead to all of the positive aspects of the local entertainment industry. “I am especially excited for the opportunity to recognize and reward all of the hard-working professionals that have transformed Savannah into one of the most sought-after filming destinations in the world,” said Bowen. “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.”
VIP tickets to the Gala are $150 and will include valet parking, early entry at 6:30 p.m., private performances and meet and greets, a professional photo on the red carpet, a special award, and a VIP swag bag.
General admission tickets are $75 and will allow entry when the doors open at 7:30 p.m.
All attendees will enjoy live entertainment, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar. The honors ceremony will begin at 8:30 p.m. and an onsite after party will last from 9:30 until 11 p.m.
Sponsorship opportunities, including the title sponsorship, are available at several levels.
For more information on tickets and sponsorships, visit www.SavannahFilmAlliance.org.
Savannah Attorney Charles Bowen to Discuss Film Industry at Buy Local Savannah May Meeting
(SAVANNAH, GA.) Charles “Bo” Bowen of the Bowen Law Group will discuss the Savannah area’s burgeoning film industry when Buy Local Savannah gathers for its May meeting Thursday, May 23, at Cohen’s Retreat, 5715 Skidaway Road.
Bowen will discuss film and television production in the area, including existing barriers to its continued expansion and the risks presented by potential boycotts. Bowen’s law firm specializes in commercial and entertainment law, and he has expanded his involvement to larger interests in the film industry.
He is a frequent commentator and writer on entertainment industry topics in local media. In 2015, Bowen founded the Savannah Film Alliance to promote the film community within Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through advocacy and action via education, outreach and collaboration.
He also founded Southern Gateway Production Services to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers coming to Savannah to film their projects.
Bowen attended Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he graduated with honors in psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. He has developed a reputation as one of Savannah’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law.
The Buy Local meeting will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and lunch will be served. Reservations are required.
The local trade association boasts about 150 member businesses in varied fields. Buy Local Savannah’s mission is to support locally owned and operated, independent businesses in the greater Savannah area, to maintain the area’s unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build community economic strength and prevent the displacement of community-based businesses by national and global entities.
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.
Savannah Film Alliance Announces February Meeting
Networking Group Founded by Southern Gateway Production Services Owner
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Savannah Film Alliance will meet Thursday, February 22 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room 7126 in the Academic Commons building (the main building) at Savannah Technical College. Parking is in the visitor parking next to the school entrance.
The Savannah Film Alliance was founded in 2015 by attorney Charles Bowen, owner of Southern Gateway Production Services. It promotes the growth of the film and television industry in Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through collaboration, the sharing of relevant information, education, and community outreach.
All those with a stake in the entertainment industry are invited to attend to share their updates, discuss their goals, and brainstorm ways to improve the filmmaking experience in the Savannah area. No RSVP is necessary.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOWEN LAW GROUP AND SOUTHERN GATEWAY PRODUCTION SERVICES
As the founder of The Bowen Law Group, Charles Bowen has developed a reputation as one of Savannah’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law. Bowen is recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015. Bowen also 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. The Bowen Law Group and Southern Gateway Production Services are located at 7 East Congress St, Suite 1001. For more information, contact Charles Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-544-2050.
Silver Line Films Announces New Film “Take 2 For Faith”
(SAVANNAH, GA) Silver Line Films, LLC has announced it is set to begin production of a new independent feature film, “Take 2 For Faith,” an inspirational drama starring Patrick Muldoon, Deana Carter, Nia Sioux, Dallas Lovato, Aaron O’Connell and Joel Rush; and directed by Nancy Criss. Janelle Arthur, Top 5 finalist on American Idol and 16 time Grand Ole Opry performer, will be portraying the lead role of Faith Winters in the film.
Written by Jason Usry and Kenneth Lemm and produced by Savannahian Chris Helton with Gabrielle Evans Fields, “Take 2 For Faith” is the inspiring story of a Nashville country music legend who seeks refuge in her rural Texas hometown following a public fall from grace.
But the homecoming is bittersweet. She must balance the career she left in Nashville and the disruption her presence brings to her small town with unexpected emotions as she rediscovers her high school sweetheart and turns to a local pastor for insight.
Casting for additional roles, coordinated by Gabrielle Evans Casting, will get underway on Tuesday, Aug. 15, in Austin, Texas. Production is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 25, in Smithville, Texas.
Patrick Muldoon, who originated the role of Austin Reed on the daytime drama, “Days of Our Lives,” will portray Seth Ingram in the film while multiple Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Deana Carter has been cast in the role of Liz Winters. Carter is perhaps best known for her hit songs “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” and “Strawberry Wine.”
Nia Sioux, who has just completed a six-week run in the Off-Broadway musical “Trip Of Love” and who has delighted television audiences for six seasons on the popular series, “Dance Moms,” will portray Zoe Whitfield. This is the first feature-length film for the 15-year-old dance sensation who has attracted 3.6 million followers to her @niasioux Instagram page and twitter feed. Nia’s role will be an opportunity as well to show off her singing ability.
Dallas Lovato, who appeared in “The Helpers” (2013) and provided the voice of Wendy in the 2011 animated film “Snowflake, the White Gorilla,” will play Jennie Sharp. Lovato is the older sister of star actress and singer Demi Lovato.
Aaron O’Connell, who starred in the 2015 movie, “12 Gifts of Christmas,” will portray Gavin Whitfield. O’Connell is best known for his role in Tyler Perry’s “Haves and Have Nots.” Joel Rush, who appeared in “If Loving You Is Wrong” (2014) and “Love or Whatever” (2012), will play Cameron.
The film’s director, Nancy Criss, has produced and directed numerous award winning films including, “A Horse for Summer,” “Deadly Sanctuary” and “The Sparrows Nesting.”
The film’s scheduled release date is on or about March 1, 2017. For more information, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4883336/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm
For more information on Silver Line Films, visit http://silverlinetv.com/
ABOUT SILVER LINE FILMS
Silver Line Films is a Georgia-based film production company. Their focus is on low to medium budget films with varying genres including family and faith-based films, drama action and suspense. For more information on Silver Line Films, visit http://silverlinetv.com/
Silver Line Films, LLC
(SAVANNAH, GA) The film “Ben & Ara,” which was primarily filmed in Liberty County, Ga., and was produced by Savannah native Samone Norsworthy, was nominated and received the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Diaspora feature.
The AMAA’s were held at the Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
“Ben & Ara” follows the struggles of an Islamic woman who falls in love with an agnostic man. It highlights the religious and cultural differences between the two lovers and how the families and community react to their relationship.
“After reading the script for ‘Ben & Ara,’ I immediately fell in love with the story,” said Norsworthy, the movie’s executive producer/production manager. “It has been an honor to produce this film, and I’m excited that it has brought international attention to our local film industry.”
“Ben & Ara” has won more than ten major awards. The film features Savannah native William Mark Mccullough, actor, director and producer, as well as other local cast and crew members.
The AMAAs are considered to be Africa’s most important film event and the most prestigious film award in Africa. AMAA is an offshoot of the Africa Film Academy. The Academy, founded on the historic film values, is geared towards research, training and promoting film making in Africa. For a full list of AMAA winners, visit http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/06/amaa-2016-full-list-winners/
“Ben & Ara” will screen at the Big River Film Festival on Saturday, July 9, in the Johnny Mercer Theater at 5 p.m. The cast and crew will be in attendance and will hold a Q&A session after the show. For more information about “Ben & Ara,” visit http://www.benandara.com. Twitter: @BenandAra
The Big River Film Festival will take place in Savannah, Ga., from Thursday, July 7, to Sunday, July 10. The international film festival will offer access to creative voices through film programming, master classes, live performances and conversations with successful film artists. More than 120 films will be screened, and 41 countries will be represented.
For more information, on the Big River Film Festival, visit www.bigriverfilmfestival.com. Twitter: Big_River_Film
ABOUT THE AFRICAN MOVIE ACADEMY AWARDS
The African Movie Academy Awards, popularly known as AMAA and The AMA Awards (dubbed ‘The African Oscars’), are presented annually to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry. Founded by Peace Anyiam-Osigwe and organized through the Africa Film Academy, the awards are aimed at honoring and promoting excellence in the African movie industry as well as uniting the African continent through arts and culture.
The AMA awards are considered to be Africa’s most important film event and the most prestigious film award in Africa. For more information, visit http://ama-awards.com/v2/
ABOUT BIG RIVER FILM FESTIVAL
The Big River Film Festival will take place in Savannah, Ga., from Thursday, July 7, to Sunday, July 10. It is an international film festival that will offer access to creative voices through film programming, master classes, live performances and conversations with successful film artists.
More than 120 films will be screened, and 41 countries will be represented.
The festival is a chance to discover new films and new voices as well as experience the art of film making and explore TV, Web series and alternative media. For more information, follow them on Twitter: Big_River_Film or visit www.bigriverfilmfestival.com. Big River Film Festival is a 501 ( c )(3).
Samone T. Norsworthy
Big River Film Festival
Carriage Trade PR, Inc.