2010-10-14 / Front Page

Washington-Wilkes chosen to be Ga. ‘Camera Ready Community’

Heidi Green, commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development presents Camera Ready designation to David Jenkins, manager, Washington Main Street/Better Hometown. Heidi Green, commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development presents Camera Ready designation to David Jenkins, manager, Washington Main Street/Better Hometown. A new state of Georgia program will help Wilkes County get its share of the $1 billion economic impact that movie and television production brings to the state each year.

Wilkes County was named a Camera Ready Community at a special ceremony Thursday at Georgia’s newest media production facility, the EUE/Screen Gems Studio in Atlanta.

Washington’s Director of Economic Development, David Jenkins, is the Camera Ready local contact who attended the ceremony. “What this means is that we’re first in line when a big movie studio or other media production company is looking for a location,” Jenkins said. “At the ceremony I was able to talk at great length with Greg Torre, Director of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, and remind him about some of the things that make Washington and Wilkes County special for producers.”

As the local representative, Jenkins is on call to help and advise production companies looking for a particular place or image to shoot. “It makes a difference for them to talk with someone who speaks the same language and knows where to find what they’re looking for.”

The film and television business is booming in Georgia. Largely due to new tax credits for media production in the state – not to mention the variety of unique and authentic landscapes – Georgia is now ranked number one in the Southeast, and among the top five states in the nation, for film and TV productions.

That state office launched the state’s Camera Ready Community Program to focus attention on the wide range of Georgia locations available to the film and television industry. “Camera Ready is a designation put in place by the state to offer film and television production companies easier, faster, and better access to local resources and information,” Jenkins said, “and much easier for them to contact the Wilkes County representative and get things done.”

“I’m excited and encouraged to be working more closely with locations specialist Craig Dominy and his team to help bring films to our beautiful county,” said Tourism Director Ashley Barnett. “Films bring a huge economic impact and publicity to a city and county, and Washington is the perfect backdrop. The city, county, and the Chamber of Commerce are all on board to work with potential films and other projects.”

The Camera-Ready Community web site allows the community contact to post photos of scenes in the county that might be of interest to production companies, along with lists of specific attractions in the county. “They’re looking for everything from a small town’s whole downtown area to specific architectural details like staircases, so we’re working on getting those details posted for them to see,” Jenkins said. “The more we show them, the more likely they are to want to come here.”

The announcement of the new Camera Ready Communities comes at a boom time for the movie and TV business in Georgia. “More than 50 Georgia counties hosted a film or TV production this year, making this a banner year for the industry in our state,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Heidi Green. “Hollywood A-listers including Robert Duvall, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Aniston have all experienced our unique locations, talented crew base and world-class southern hospitality, helping make Georgia the top filming location in the south.”

In addition to Washington-Wilkes, the counties of Bibb, Carroll, Chatham, Coweta, DeKalb, Dougherty, Emanuel, Floyd, Fulton, Hall, Houston, Lowndes, Morgan, Newton, and Walker were recognized by the Georgia Department of Economic Development as the first 16 Camera Ready communities at the kickoff event.

At the ceremony, attendees heard from Kris Bagwell, executive vice president, EUE/Screen Gems Studio; Heidi Green, GDEcD commissioner; Clara Deemer, Director of Tourism Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce; Craig Dominey, locations specialist, Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office; Lee Thomas, director (film), Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office; and Joe Genier, film producer.

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