"Deliverance" (1972): The novel and movie by James Dickey (left) and starring a young Burt Reynolds (right) may not have put north Georgia in the best light, but it opened the way for plenty more 1970s film productions in the state, several of which happened to star Reynolds again.
The Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office during this legislative session officially celebrated the 40th anniversary of Georgia filmmaking. “Deliverance,” starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty, was set and shot in north Georgia and was released in 1972.
But the explosive growth in Georgia filmmaking, evidenced by new movie studios being built in Gwinnett, Fayette,Newton and Effingham counties, has followed the legislature’s 2008 decision to enact enticing tax incentives.
“Communities across Georgia are benefiting from new infrastructure, company expansions and relocations, and ancillary businesses generated by business from the entertainment industry,” said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Georgia productions generated an economic impact of $3.1 billion during fiscal 2012, a 29 percent jump from the previous year, according to state numbers.
For a practical look behind those numbers this week, we drove around town and played “Six Degrees of Separation.”
In Stone Mountain, we visited the set of “The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” a Hallmark movie scheduled to air this September. The movie, which also has filmed in Marietta and Newnan, is a project of ToniK Productions, formed by producers Nikki Silver and Tonya Lewis Lee, who is married to Atlanta native and Morehouse man Spike Lee.
“Atlanta has been wonderful to work in,” Lee said. “There are amazing crews here.”
The film is being directed by Atlanta’s Kenny Leon and the cast includes David Alan Grier, who appears in “Peeples,” coming out Friday. That movie, produced by local entertainment mogul Tyler Perry, stars Craig Robinson, who was in town this week on a promotional tour.
“David Alan Grier is the funniest guy on the planet,” Robinson said. “He cracked us up every second.”
Robinson is best known for his longstanding role as Darryl on “The Office,” which for many years starred Steve Carell, who has been in Atlanta for months now filming “Anchorman 2,” which also stars Paul Rudd, who was here a few years ago filming “Wanderlust” withJennifer Aniston, which filmed in north Georgia, where four guys and a couple of dueling banjos got things rolling four decades ago.
Whew! Did we say “Six Degrees of Separation?” In Georgia’s increasingly robust filming scene, it’s more like one or two.