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.
Roush’s Delivery Service Breaks Ground on New Warehouse Flex Space
The Dewitt Tilton Group Starts New Construction on 30,000 Building in Garden City
(GARDEN CITY, GA) Savannah-based commercial construction firm, the Dewitt Tilton Groupheld groundbreaking ceremonies in Garden City for a 30,000-square-foot warehouse/office building for Roush’s Delivery Service.
The groundbreaking took place at the construction site, Lot 6 West Chatham Business Park in Garden City.
Roush’s Delivery Service, founded in 1973, provides expedited less-than-truckload (LTL) and logistics services. Mike Roush is president of the family-owned firm, and Mike Roush Jr. is its general manager. The company experienced a 400% growth over the past four years, thus demanding physical expansion.
“We have to adapt as our clients’ needs change,” said Mike Roush. “Most of our customers now need project-based work, and our new site will equip us to meet those needs in the most effective manner. Yes, we have grown tremendously, but the reason for this expansion is also to better serve our clients.”
The pre-engineered metal building will include 3,500 square feet of heated and cooled office space. The building is dock-high all the way around, and the office portion will be configured as two stories. Translucent light panels along the front and rear will allow natural light into the warehouse. 12 overhead garage doors that vary in size with edge or pit levelers will accommodate most any truck and its load. There is also a concrete ramp into the building from parking level as another means of access for receiving or delivering goods.
“Mike and I were buddies in grade school and high school,” Chris Tilton, one of the principals at Dewitt Tilton, said of the younger Roush. “Who would have thought, back when we were at Benedictine, that we would one day be working together on a $2 million construction project? We appreciate all of our clients, but it is really fun to work with old friends.”
MORE INFORMATION ON DEWITT TILTON GROUP
The Dewitt Tilton Group, a premier construction firm located in Savannah, Ga., specializes in commercial construction. The principals, Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton, have over 50 years of combined experience in the local construction industry. The firm manages every aspect of a commercial project from pre-construction to the final walk through. Known for using only highly reputable contractors, the Dewitt Tilton Groupbrings to the table design, engineering and construction capabilities which guarantees a smooth construction process for each client. The firm is located at 2807-A Roger Lacey Avenue, Savannah, GA 31404. For more information or to contact the Dewitt Tilton Group, please call 912.777.3404 or visit www.dewitttiltongroup.com
The Greatest Year Ever for Savannah’s Film and Television Industry
By Charles J. Bowen
What do an aging assassin hunting his clone, a football-playing private investigator trying to exonerate his daughter, an escaped slave interacting with famous historical figures, and an upper-class cocker spaniel falling in love with a street smart mutt all have in common? They are all leading characters in movies filmed in Savannah in 2018.
These films do not even begin to demonstrate the breadth of last year’s film and television industry in Savannah. From film noir in John Travolta’s “The Poison Rose” to the science fiction action thriller “Gemini Man” starring Will Smith to Disney’s live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” Savannah has played host to almost every possible genre of production.
Over 200 professional film and television productions were filmed in the Savannah area in 2018 with another 147 student productions on top of that. Whether large or small, each and every production served as an economic engine pumping cash into every corner of the local economy.
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 2018 alone. These figures shattered the record set in 2017 of $65 million in direct spending with $138 million in total local economic impact.
As founder of the Savannah Film Alliance, I see the tremendous financial impact these productions have daily on a diverse range of local businesses. In addition to food and lodging, film crews utilize dry cleaners, pet sitters, massage therapists, and countless other local professionals. Small businesses across the city are finding a windfall in income from these productions, and every month, more and more businesses that service the entertainment industry are moving to town.
One of the major reasons for this boom in the local film and television industry is the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentive offered by the Savannah Economic Development Authority. This program provides cash rebates to qualified film and television productions that schedule a majority of their shooting days within 60 miles of Savannah City Hall. Since this rebate applies to local spending only, it encourages productions to hire local crew and utilize local businesses and service providers.
The reason this incentive is so effective is that it is offered on top of the very generous production incentives offered statewide by the State of Georgia. But all this government support would mean nothing without the many local crew members, small business owners, industry leaders, and educators, such as the Georgia Film Academyat Savannah Tech, that have worked tirelessly to transform Savannah into one of the most popular filming destinations in the world.
While these statistics are certainly reasons to celebrate, it is crucial to remember that all of this progress can be instantly destroyed by one ill-informed swipe of our new governor’s pen. As North Carolina discovered after its infamous “bathroom bill,” any effort to roll back the civil rights gains of the last 60-plus years under the guise of “religious liberty” could decimate Georgia’s film and television industry. Just last year, a bill that would have allowed private adoption agencies to legally discriminate based on “sincerely-held religious beliefs” made it all the way through the Georgia Senate before failing. Thus, it is important to remain vigilant lest any such efforts resurface.
Looking forward to 2019, Savannah looks well-positioned to hold onto its status as the second most filmed city in Georgia behind Atlanta. Numerous productions have either committed to or expressed interest in filming in Savannah this year. Remember, there is a lot more at stake than simply the chance to spot a movie star at a local restaurant or to recognize a familiar site on the screen. Entire livelihoods and real money supporting real families are being built by the local film and television industry and you never know where the flow of that money will ultimately land.
While recently browsing a local antique mall, well-removed from the lights-camera-action world, a friend ran across a prop master buying rotary phones for the 2019 local filming of “The Glorias: A Life on the Road,” a Gloria Steinem biopic. The film dollar travels far and wide. The pocket in which it winds up may well be yours.
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.