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EUE/Screen Gems studios at Lakewood in expansion mode

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touts the positive net impact tax credits for film and tV production has had on the state. COO Chris Cooney of EUE/Screen Gems accompanies him. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touts the positive net impact tax credits for film and tV production has had on the state. COO Chris Cooney of EUE/Screen Gems accompanies him. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

A little more than a year old, the EUE/Screen Gems TV and film production site on the former Lakewood Fairgrounds is already in expansion mode.

Executives said demand for studio space has exceeded expectations so the company has broken ground on a new 30,000-square-foot sound stage on the Atlanta property. Chris Cooney, chief operating officer for EUE/Screen Gems, said it will be ready early next year, in time for “pilot” season. That’ s when broadcast networks will shoot dozens of potential new shows for possible airing during the 2012-13 TV season.

Already, EUE/Screen Gems has worked with the BET cable network on three shows: “Let’s Stay Together,” “Sunday Best” and “The Game.” USA Network also used a 37,500-square-foot sound stage that opened in April to shoot its first season of “Necessary Roughness,” a drama the network renewed for a second season last week. Several major films with A-list names such as Billy Crystal and Denzel Washington are planned on the lot as well.

Georgia’s industry-targeted tax credits, established in 2008, have fueled a massive growth of film and TV production in the state. Any production that spends $500,000 or more can get up to a 30 percent tax credit back from the state of Georgia.

“The tax incentives are working better than any other tax incentives we have,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a press conference at EUE/Screen Gems Wednesday. “We’re attracting very well-paying jobs to the state of Georgia… This is not Hollywood fanfare showy stuff. These are life-changing jobs that are replacing the old economy with the new economy.”

Reed noted that, three miles away, the former Ford Hapeville plant is now “a vacant lot that the city of Atlanta just purchased. Think of the folks who used to go there,” he said, contrasting it with the Lakewood site. “There’s a new creative, cutting-edge sector developing here because of [the state's] financial decisions.”

On a typical day, said EUE/Screen Gems executive vice president Kris Bagwell, 200 to 300 people are working at the TV and film production lot.

Chris-Cooney

EUE/Screen Gems COO Chris Cooney announces a new sound stage as demand heats up in Atlanta for film and TV space. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

EUE/Screen Gems EVP Kris Bagwell shows off Stage 5 to Mayor Kasim Reed. It's one of the largest sound stages east of the Mississippi and was used by USA's "Necessary Roughness" for its first season.

EUE/Screen Gems EVP Kris Bagwell shows off Stage 5 to Mayor Kasim Reed. It's one of the largest sound stages east of the Mississippi and was used by USA's "Necessary Roughness" for its first season.

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7 comments Add your comment

Harm

September 21st, 2011
9:18 pm

@Deirdre, I’m still here!

Ludwig Von Mises

September 22nd, 2011
1:59 am

Why, when there are such glaring examples how lowering taxes or exempting taxes or offering tax credits provides economic stimulus and job creation, is it so hard to convince Democrats, and Republicans as well, that it’s the wisest fiscal move any government can make ?!

Glued to Boob Tube

September 22nd, 2011
3:23 am

Ludwig Von Mises, You seem to miss what is really happening. These tax “incentives” are not creating jobs they are just relocating them to the cheapest place available. As soon as New Mexico or Alabama offers a 50% tax credit Atlanta will be a ghost town for production and 80,000 square feet of expensive studio space to fill. Then one day someone else will offer a 70% credit and Alabama will be out of business. I know this is true as shows like this were once filmed in LA. Now it’s Atlanta, Toronto etc…

Entertainment Deal Maker

September 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

The economics prevent a state from offering a tax credit in excess of 30%-35% for more than one year, especially in this economic climate. Once you get above that percentage, it actually costs the State revenue. Runaway productions are not going to bet on a one year spiked incentive, because their shoot schedules are not that reliable, they don’t want to schedule and then find out the spiked incentive has been revoked. Since Georgia’s incentive is designed to be ‘revenue neutral’, that is, not costing the State losses in taxes when compared to the infusion of tax revenue from increased business, it works as a pretty stable and predictable incentive.

JimR1967

September 24th, 2011
4:06 pm

This is a great success story for both the Atlanta area and the state of Georgia, and nice to finally see Atlanta in the news for something positive.

Chuck

September 25th, 2011
4:06 pm

How can I find employmnent with Screen Gyms at Lakewood?