The Hunger Games, filmed entirely in North Carolina, was a big hit when it came out earlier this year. Since then, there has been much speculation as to where its sequelThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be filmed. Recently, Lionsgate has announced in a press release its plans to film Catching Fire this fall on location in Hawaii, and in and near Atlanta, Georgia, including Clayton County.
Soon after the Lionsgate’s press release, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners in Georgia made its own announcement. The Board has unanimously granted the producers of Catching Fire the right to film at Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro, Georgia. Catching Fire will be filming scenes in the park throughout late October and November of this year.
The Economic Impact of Being a Film Location
This decision by the Board of Commissioners could not have been more timely for Clayton because the county has been suffering from a high rate of foreclosures and unemployment.
Catching Fire is the latest in a series of big-budget films made in Clayton County in the two years since the county started a film and entertainment office. Within this time period, the film industry has created 100 permanent jobs for Clayton County, essentially a $5 million to $10 million increase in the county’s revenue. This economic injection has been a godsend to Clayton.
As to Catching Fire, the production will pay $80,000 in order to film a few scenes in the park. In addition, the county’s economy will also benefit when the production starts spending money on the usual costs that come with moviemaking (extras, police security, restaurants, accommodations, local film crew, etc.). For example, off-duty Clayton police officers will earn $45 an hour for their security services, and a Clayton County Water Authority worker will take home $75 an hour as he drains and refills the park’s lake.
“Lionsgate has been a longtime partner of Georgia’s entertainment industry being the first production company to take advantage of our film tax incentives in 2005. The fact that they are continuing to bring productions including this high profile franchise to Georgia reaffirms their commitment to our talented crew, diverse locations and accessibility,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Cummiskey.
Three Reasons Why Hollywood Loves Filming in Clayton County
In addition to Georgia’s generous film tax credits, Clayton has several other attractive qualities that have drawn Hollywood to film in the area for years.
1. Diverse Landscapes
Clayton’s location and geography, and its ability to be both rural and suburban, historic and futuristic, are attractive to filmmakers. It’s one of the major reasons why Clayton landmarks and landscapes have continued to grace the screens (small and big).
“A lot of people want to shoot at iconic [Atlanta] places like Piedmont Park and the Georgia World Congress Center,” said Grant Wainscott, director of Clayton’s Economic Development and Film & Entertainment Office. “But the Southside has been winning [business]. It’s something people aren’t expecting.”
Craig Miller, co-president of the Georgia Production Partnership, whose organization helped create the tax incentives Georgia uses to recruit film production, agrees with Wainscott. “Clayton has got a great beautiful look. It’s attractive for a lot of scenarios,” he said. “It allows you to be very close to all of the production center of Atlanta, but it has a different look of being out in the countryside. And that’s good for Clayton.”
And, as the producers of Catching Fire have figured out, Clayton is the one place in Atlanta that sports a … beach ... on its resume. “The beach” - where Catching Fire will be filming - is actually a man-made water park in Clayton County International Park.
For the Hunger Games sequel, the park is being transformed into a post-apocalyptic setting. The Beach was also where the beach volleyball matches of the 1996 Olympics were held.
2. Proximity to Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
“Because of the numerous assets of Clayton and its proximity to Atlanta and the airport, it has been and will continue to be a big player in Georgia’s film industry,” said Lee Thomas, director of the Georgia Film Music and Digital Entertainment Office. “They’ll continue to get shows.”
Why is being close to the airport so important? Filmmakers while filming in the Atlanta area loves to set up camp near the airport. Clayton County, located approximately 15 miles from the airport and a little over 17 miles from Atlanta has a huge advantage over other neighboring towns.
3. Local Resources for Film Industry
In Clayton, film producers have essentially a one-stop service for all of their filming needs, such as obtaining building permits, leasing props and hiring movie extras. “They understand the business of making movies,” said Miller.
If you’re interested in learning more about filming in Clayton, check out the Clayton County Film Office’s Facebook page.
Clayton County, the Inspiration for Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind
In 1969 the Mitchell family designated Clayton County “The Official Home of Gone With The Wind.” Why? Scarlett O’hara’s beloved plantation home Tara was set there, and Clayton County is Scarlett’s home county.
It is well known that Margaret Mitchell got her ideas for her Gone With The Wind and especially the setting of Scarlett’s home Tara from the Stately Oaks Plantation, which originally was located on Tara Boulevard. In the 1970s, the plantation was moved to its current location in the Margaret Mitchell Memorial Park off of Jodeco Road in Jonesboro.
If you’re a fan of Gone With The Wind (and who isn’t?), check out this fascinating 1936 interview of the author Margaret Mitchell. You can also visit Stately Oaks Plantation and the author’s Atlanta home the next time you’re in Georgia.
Filmed in Clayton County
In addition to Catching Fire and Scary Movie 5 (both to be filmed there this fall), Clayton County is also the filming location for other recent productions such as The Odd Life of Timothy Green (one of my favorite movies in 2012), Joyful Noise, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, NBC’s new series Revolution, Zombieland, and the 2001 Footloose remake.
The fictitious town of Stanleyville, the main setting for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, is actually the tiny town of Rex, Georgia, about 15 miles south of Atlanta in Clayton County. Rex residents were so excited to have the movie filmed in their own backyard (as you can see from this NBC News clip).
Clayton County’s involvement with the film industry is not a recent development though. Over three decades ago, Smokey and the Bandit was also filmed in and around Jonesboro, Georgia.
“It’s a really big deal for us,” said Wainscott. “There’s a lot of community pride when they can see the county on the big screen. It’s a great positive. There’s a lot of challenging economic news in the region, and when we can highlight something incredible … this is by all means a great success story for Clayton County.”
Georgia’s Film Industry in 2012
Georgia, prides itself as the “Camera Ready state,” has had 333 productions filmed in Georgia has generated a $3.1 billion revenue for fiscal 2012, according to the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, a 29 percent increase over fiscal 2011.
In addition to featured films, commercials and music videos, many television shows have been shot in Georgia including AMC’s The Walking Dead, CW’s The Vampire Diaries, BET’s Reed Between the Lines, “Family Feud”; VH1’s Single Ladies; USA’s Necessary Roughness; and Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva.
“The 2012 fiscal year saw record investment in the state by the entertainment industry, with more than $879.8 million in direct spending,” said Chris Cummiskey. “The film industry’s impact will have a lasting effect on Georgia’s economy for years to come.”