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Dec. 20 - Entertainment Production industry generates $120.1 million in direct spend in Savannah region in 2018

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

December 20, 2018 - The Savannah Area Film Office announced that in 2018, the entertainment production industry generated $120.1 million in direct spend leading to a staggering $253.6 million economic impact for the region. In 2017, the direct economic spend was $65 million with an economic impact of $137.9 million.

“We set out five years ago to grow the film and television production industry and further diversify the regional economy. With the support of the SEDA board and engagement of so many key community partners pulling in the same direction, we have seen incredible growth,” said Trip Tollison, President and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority. “The numbers we report today are not an accident but the result of a well-executed strategy. I am very proud of the team at SEDA who have been involved since day one, Brynn Grant and Ralph Singleton in particular, as well as the film office executive director Beth Nelson and her team Katie Schuck, Catalina Alcaraz-Guzman and Andy Young who are the best in the business. We still have ground to cover, but this kind of progress is worth celebrating.” 

Executive Director of the Savannah Area Film Office Beth Nelson said, “Over the past several years through marketing and direct day to day contact with the industry we have been able to increase the awareness of all Savannah has to offer for tv series, feature films, commercials and more.”

“This would not be possible without the quality product we have in the region from the historic district to Tybee Island to the other smaller towns and neighborhoods, along with the invaluable cooperation we receive from residents who recognize that these productions mean good jobs and a better economy for all,” Nelson added. “We would be remiss if we didn’t thank our partners including the City of Savannah and Chatham County for helping provide a nearly seamless experience when productions are here on location.Those professionals are always doing their best to make sure they protect the interests of citizens while working to make every production successful. None of this progress would be possible without them.” 

From 2010-2014 the entertainment production direct spend was a combined $58 million, 2015 -  $59 million, 2016 - $61 million and in $2017 - $65 million.

In 2018, 208 professional productions and 147 student productions were filmed with one of the biggest productions to date being Gemini Man directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee and starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong.

Savannah also landed Disney’s Lady and The Tramp; the Hulu anthology, The Act starring Patricia Arquette, Chloë Sevigny and Joey King as well as Pop TV’s new comedy series Florida Girls.

In September, the SEDA Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentives for three more years. These incentives are in addition to the tax credit the state of Georgia offers. 

“The Savannah Entertainment Production Incentives combined with the state of Georgia’s tax credit program, have significantly raised Savannah’s profile as a desired location for entertainment production,” said Tollison. “The renewal of the incentives for the next three years helps solidify the industry for our region.”

Nelson said, “The incentives, our diversity of locations, the efficiency of the film office and our partners are keys to this success, but we still have work to do. In 2019, we still need adequate soundstage space for productions and we are actively looking to secure a direct flight from Los Angeles to Savannah.”

The Savannah Area Film Office also announced that their name would be changing January 1 to the Savannah Regional Film Commission. The name change is in line with the national industry standard as outlined by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).

“Film Commission is an internationally recognized known and standardized name for film offices,” said Nelson. “It is the term producers, studio executives, location managers and other industry professionals use when referring to a local film office. Changing the name to the Savannah Regional Film Commission is much more effective for industry communication.”

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Oct. 1 - SCAD Announces Honorees for 21st Annual Savannah Film Festival

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

October 1, 2018 - The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) recently announced the 2018 honorees to be recognized at the 21st annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival, taking place Oct. 27-Nov. 3. Now the largest university-run film festival in the country, the annual tribute to excellence in film has screened over 110 Oscar-nominated films and honored over 80 legendary actors, directors, producers, writers and filmmakers from around the world.

This year, SCAD will honor Hugh Jackman with the Legend of Cinema Award, Emily Blunt with the Icon Award, Maggie Gyllenhaal with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award for Acting and Producing, Armie Hammer with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award, Stephan James and KiKi Layne with the Discovery Award, John Krasinski with the Vanguard Award, Shailene Woodley with the Spotlight Award and Amandla Stenberg with the Rising Star Award. Additional honorees and programming will be announced at a later date.

The festival has become a distinguished stop on the road to the Oscars: hosting exclusive screenings, competition films, feature films, documentaries, shorts, animated films, panel discussions, and workshops at SCAD's historic theaters and industry leading studios. SCAD has a top-ranked film and TV program with more than 75 SCAD alumni working on 2018 Academy Award films.

Tickets and passes are available for purchase online at, by telephone at 912.525.5050, or in person at the Trustees Theater, located at 216 E. Broughton St., Savannah.

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Sept. 5 - Television Casting Call in Savannah for "Closet Raiders - The Fashion Game Show" Contestants on Sept. 22

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

September 5, 2018 - CLOSET RAIDERS – The Fashion Game Show, is looking for twelve outgoing Savannah locals, with distinct personal style and well-versed in fashion, to compete in a fun fashion game show before a live studio audience. Contestants will be tested on their fashion knowledge and style, and could win a closet full of designer clothes and prizes. 

The casting call will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at The Marshall House. 

Casting by appointment only. Please email your name, address and phone number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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Sept. 14 – Disney Requiring Additional Roads Closed Starting Sunday for Movie Filming

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

September 14, 2018 - More roads will be closed starting on Sunday to accommodate movie filming in downtown Savannah, according to City of Savannah officials.

In Johnson Square, some roads will be closed completely September 16-18  (Sunday-Tuesday) from 7:00 p.m. to 7 p.m., others will be closed intermittently for 2-3 minutes at a time.

Bryan Street between Whitaker and Drayton streets will be CLOSED

Northbound Bull Street will be CLOSED between Bryan and Congress streets

Southbound Bull Street will be CLOSED between Bryan and Bay streets

Intermittent road closures will occur on Bay Lane, St. Julian Street, Congress Street, Whitaker Street, Bull Street and Drayton Street in the area around Johnson Square.  These closures will not effect Bay Street or Broughton Street traffic.

The Abercorn Ramp will be CLOSED from Bay Street to Lower Factors Walk from September 16-19 (Sunday-Wednesday) all day and night. Intermittent closures will occur on Drayton Ramp from Bay Street to River Street.   Pedestrian traffic will be impacted intermittently on Drayton Ramp, Abercorn Ramp, Upper and Lower Factors Walk, and the Bay Street sidewalk.

East 31st Street between Abercorn Street and Lincoln Street will REMAIN closed through Friday, September 14 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Other roads in that immediate area will be closed intermittently through Friday for 2-3 minutes at time:

·       Northbound of Lincoln Street after 32nd Street intersection.

·       Northbound/Southbound of Habersham Street at East 31st Street intersection.

·       Northbound/Southbound of Abercorn Street at East 31st Street intersection.

All residents and businesses in the area were notified by letter in early August and again earlier this month about the closures.

For a list of all the filming road closures visit

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Aug. 2 – It's Disney! Production Co. Revealed of Major Motion Picture Set to Film Sept. thru Nov in Historic District

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

August 2, 2018 - The Savannah City Council received an update Thursday morning on the Film Office’s permits that have been granted to use various locales in the city’s historic district for the production of a major motion picture in September through December, that will affect City Market, Johnson Square, Wright Square and a number of other areas.  

The name of the production company was finally revealed, after months of secrecy, and it is the Walt Disney Company.  The film’s director will be Charlie Bean (pictured), who attended the Work Session, along with members of his production team, and spoke about why Disney choose Savannah. 

The shooting schedule for outdoor locales will be through Nov. 7, but they will be using sound stages here until Dec. 6, with a goal to wrap up local work by January. A tentative shooting schedule by location has been released this week (see link below.) 

The film is set in the 1920’s era, which means that significant changes will have to be made to various locales, such as modern light fixtures on Johnson Square that will have to be taken down and temporarily replaced (and then re-installed at Disney’s expense), tour companies will have to reroute on multiple days, as well as other impacts are anticipated.  The Film Office estimates that it will be a total of a $20 million local spend.

Director Bean was asked why Disney had chosen Savannah for the production. He responded that the move, “is a beautiful nostalgic romance, that takes place in ‘any town U.S.A.’ in 1920, and Savanah seems like an incredibly beautiful, perfect town to represent the U.S. in that time period.  When I first came here, I was struck by how beautiful this town was, the combination of the parks, and the squares and the live oaks. It feels like it’s sprinkled with magic dust.  We can’t talk about more specifics, but it’s a beautiful romance,” he added.  The name of the movie has still not been divulged.

But sources say the movie is “an action remake” of the Disney classic "Lady and the Tramp." The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Kiersey Clemons is in talks for one of the film’s live-action roles, Darling, the owner of Lady.

Justin Theroux will voice Tramp, the streetwise mutt who tries to win over the pampered Cocker Spaniel after she ends up on the street once her owners have a baby. Ashley Jensen has also been cast to voice Scottish Terrier Jackie,” according to a July 31 story in the Reporter.

The city has been working with the company for several years to get to this point, according to Susan Broker, Special Events, Film & Tourism for the City of Savannah, who provided the details of the timing of the areas. The entire film will be shot in Savannah.  Director is Charlie Bean.

“They’ve been here for awhile,” said Broker.  They will be here, at least some of them, for seven months,” said Broker.  Subject matter experts will be living and working here,  she added, and “getting their hair cut, and all those things that affect small businesses here.”

Filming starts Sept. 10.  The Film Office location staff has been working for several months on the contracts with the businesses involved, and, “barring the ‘H’ word (hurricanes), they should be wrapping in November,” said Broker.

The Film Office has been working with representatives of the Downtown Neighborhood Association on various impacts to the Historic District, and specific squares, as part of the planning process. Meeting with businesses that will be impacted began this week.  

“We’re requiring more of this production company. One month out, we’re requiring notification (of the impact to a resident or business),” said Broker.  “Two weeks out, we should have most of the concerns and solutions accounted for.” 

The entire Johnson Square area will be closed for five days, for example, affecting parking and access to City Hall, said Broker.

Marty Johnson, Asst. City Manager, oversees the city’s permitting process in cooperation with the Film Office.

Beth Nelson is the Executive Director for the Film Office, which is overseen by the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA), and resides in the SEDA headquarters on Hutchinson Island.

Overview on film production planning and shooting schedule:

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