During the two-hour “Choose Georgia” reception at the Sundance Film Festival, the Columbus Film Commission introduced its partners to officially launch the Columbus Film Fund to more than 250 attendees consisting of producers, directors and industry professionals. Columbus partners included Columbus State University’s President Dr. Chris Markwood and Associate Vice President of Engagement & Economic Development for University Advancement Dr. Richard Baxter, W.C. Bradley’s Real Estate Division President/COO Pace Halter, VisitColumbusGa’s and the Columbus Film Commission’s President & CEO Peter Bowden and Film Production Coordinators Shelby Guest and Joel Slocumb.
Three essential components to a successful film culture include a location, workers and funding. The Columbus Film Commission created just such a unique and robust public-private partnership with: W.C. Bradley’s Flat Rock Studio providing infrastructure; Columbus State University’s Georgia Film Academy on-set film production Nexus program training a local workforce, and the Columbus Film Commission creating the Columbus Film Fund through the Columbus Economic Development Corporation.
The Columbus Film Fund, made up of $5 million in contributions from the Columbus philanthropic community, is a local incentive designed to provide what is termed “gap” funding for 10 film and/or television productions filming in Columbus, Georgia over the next three years. Funds are available in the form of a grant to cover expenses such as travel per diem, food, lodging, etc. A simple application is available online at VisitColumbusGa.com/film that explains the process as well as provides the form necessary to submit a filmmaker’s project.
Conservative projections estimate this initiative will not only create the synergy necessary to establish a viable film/entertainment industry in Columbus through continuous work, but it will create more than 500 local jobs. Equally as important, Columbus State University’s Butler Center for Business and Economic Research reports that just three films in 12 months, with average budgets of $3.5 million, would generate $10.8 million in local sales of goods and services, $250,000 in sales tax revenue and $6.4 million in local labor income.
Also essential to the program is representation by Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney Carolyn Hunt, a partner with Barnes and Thornburg, LLP, who will help qualify projects for grant funding and represent the Columbus Film Commission in negotiating its equity position in productions it supports.
The Columbus Film Commission is currently selecting an agency to market the city of Columbus as a film destination along with the incentive package available to producers selecting the city. The agency will assist in identifying and contributing to the goal of bringing in 10 commercially viable projects that would qualify for the local incentive over the next three years
This is the Columbus Film Commission’s second year at Sundance in order to identify film prospects for Columbus as a film destination to include the services of the Commission. The new Film Fund and partnerships showcased during this year’s Film Festival elevate the city to the next level in the film and entertainment industry.