Members affiliated with a joint project to promote Catoosa and the surrounding counties were present at the monthly Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 18, to present the board with a notice of recognition that Catoosa has finally been designated as “camera-ready” as part of a state program.
The Fast Forward camera-ready program was created in 2008 to help promote and increase film and television production throughout the state. It is a collaborative effort between the Joint Development Authority (JDA), the Georgia Production Partnership (GPP), and also the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce. The program was developed to bring the locations in the community to the awareness of producers and directors who come into Georgia looking for opportunities and places to film.
Randall Franks, local resident and Fast Forward chairman for the GPP, was present at the meeting and said he volunteered to be a liaison for the program to fill one of the requirements of the state. Franks is best known as "Of-ficer Randy Goode" from TV's "In the Heat of the Night," a role he performed on NBC and CBS from 1988-1993. Franks has also recently been in several new films.
“Greatly because of my association with the film industry,” said Franks, “I volunteered to be Catoosa County’s liaison in this particular program, and that’s one of the requirements to be ‘camera ready’ to have someone who is knowledgeable about the film and television industry to be a liaison with producers and various entities that want to come into your community and see if you might have what they need.”
Another requirement by the state is that a database of locations be collected and prepared for producers or di-rectors inquiring about the area. Franks said many places around the county have already been gathered and regis-tered. GPP is putting together an online database that will provide out-of-area film, television, and commercial producers with vital information about each county’s filmic resources. Called the Georgia County Registration, the Fast Forward initiative will be the first of its kind in the country and could move Georgia counties closer to desir-able film industry dollars.
“We’ve gathered many, many locations and businesses around the county that have said if a film came into Ca-toosa County, they want to be a part of it and they support it,” Franks said. “They agree that economically it could make a difference for our community not only from a tourism perspective, but understand the business something like a television show or film would bring to the area.”
Martha Eaker, president of the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce, presented the recognition piece to the board and gave credit to the JDA for its partnered efforts in the project as a whole. Keith Barclift, project manager for the JDA, was also present for the presentation.
“I think it’s amazing when you get the right people working on things how wonderful things can happen. We need to give credit to Keith and Melissa at JDA for helping make this happen.”
The goal of the Northwest Georgia JDA is to “improve the quality of life and increase community wealth for the Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker County region by promoting the expansion and growth of industry and diver-sification of the regional economy.”
Franks also agreed the JDA was imperative to the project in that it helped collaborate and serve as a base for any areas within the four counties being considered optimal locations for film. According to the GPP, Georgia is now among the top five U.S. states for film and TV production with more than 274 projects shot in the state since July 2010.