Film Savannah, a partnership between the City of Savannah Film Services Office and the Savannah Economic Development Authority, reported more than $58 million was spent by entertainment productions in Chatham County in 2015, a record amount.
More than 270 productions in 2015 were assisted, including 10 feature films.
“This is by far the biggest investment by the entertainment production industry in Savannah to date,” said Trip Tollison, SEDA President and CEO.
“We have been busier than ever in the Film Office. Savannah is truly becoming a premier destination for production,” said Joe Shearouse, City of Savannah Leisure Services Bureau Chief.
In October 2014, SEDA and the City of Savannah formalized a partnership for SEDA to market and sell the Savannah region as a location for film, television and other productions. The City of Savannah Film Office’s role in this partnership is to facilitate production and serve as a liaison with citizens and businesses once production begins, including permitting, communications and other logistics.
SEDA’s first step was hiring award-winning producer of film and television, Ralph Singleton. Based in Los Angeles, Singleton has many years of experience as a producer, studio head and director in the film industry and has been instrumental in working with productions to come to Savannah.
“It is no coincidence that the hiring of Ralph Singleton has made a dramatic difference in the number of entertainment productions happening in Savannah,” said Tollison.
In October 2015, SEDA passed the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentive. The local incentives, partnered with the State’s already existing incentives, will help build a sustainable production industry in Chatham County by increasing the number of qualified crew members living and working in the area and increasing the number of film and television productions based in Chatham County.
The Savannah Entertainment Production Incentive became available Jan. 1, 2016 and has already generated national interest.
On the horizon in 2016 is the launch of the new Film Savannah website that integrates the industry standard platform, Reel Scout. Reel Scout allows entertainment production crew to be a part of a searchable online database. Also, those interested in listing their properties for location consideration can do so via the website.
“Reel Scout will greatly enhance our ability to serve the film community in a robust and comprehensive manner, while increasing the exposure and accessibility of the many resources we have available locally for production,” said Shearouse.
These announcements come amid personnel changes within the Savannah Film Office. Beth Nelson, who has been involved in film production in Savannah for a number of years, has been named Acting Director of Film Services as the City conducts a search for a new Director. Will Hammargren, the former Director, now has the position of Location Specialist in the Film Office.