Earlier this month, Walker County was named one of Georgia’s first Camera Ready communities by the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
The other 15 counties included Bibb, Carroll, Chatham, Coweta, DeKalb, Dougherty, Emanuel, Floyd, Fulton, Hall, Houston, Lowndes, Morgan, Newton and Wilkes.
The Camera Ready Community program is a part of the state’s ongoing efforts to bolster Georgia’s growing film and television industry.
When asked why is Georgia’s film industry growing, Lee Thomas, film division director at the Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office, said, “Georgia’s film industry is booming due to our competitive tax incentive pack-age.”
Other reasons include Georgia’s deep crew base, easy access through Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, temperate cli-mate, and its diverse locations.
Asked if the trend will continue to grow, Thomas said, “Yes, we are continually seeing new infrastructure in Georgia which just makes our overall package even stronger.”
Asked why is it beneficial for Walker County be Camera Ready, Thomas said, “In 2009, more than 348 produc-tions brought in an estimated $770 million to 50 counties throughout the state. Our business continues to increase, and no one knows the film resources of an area as well as the residents of the community. It is important for coun-ties to be Camera Ready to provide logistical assistance as well as location input to local productions.”
One of the latest productions to be filmed in Georgia is the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” which will premiere Oct. 31 at 10 p.m. on AMC. (To learn more about the premiere, visit the AMC website www.amctv.com/originals/The-Walking-Dead.)
The series was shot on location in Atlanta, where the series begins its tale.
The series is written and executive produced by three-time Academy Award-nominee Frank Darabont of “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”
Darabont also directs the pilot.
The series is also executive produced by Gale Anne Hurd of “The Terminator” and “Aliens,” and the series de-buts during AMC Fearfest, the network's annual blockbuster marathon of thriller and horror films.
Speaking of “The Walker Dead,” Thomas said, “They shot the pilot plus five episodes in Georgia. Hopefully, if picked up, and we believe they will be, they will return to Georgia in the spring of 2011.”
The series was filmed in Georgia from June 2 to Aug. 15.
Other productions filmed in Georgia include “Life As We Know It,” “Lottery Ticket,” “Zombieland,” and “The Blind Side,” just to name a few.
The movie “Water For Elephants” was partially filmed in Walker County, as well as the upcoming independent film “Sahkanaga,” by Chickamauga native John Henry Summerour.
"When I first sat down with Bebe (Heiskell, Walker County commissioner) to discuss shooting ‘Sahkanaga’ in Walker County, she expressed her interest in attracting more film production to the area,” Summerour said. “It's such a smart way to promote economic growth for the county while preserving the natural beauty of the area. I also remember Senator (Jeff) Mullis (of Chickamauga) calling in to offer his support when I was on “Night Talk” with Judy O'Neal. Their enthusiasm for film production, the generosity of our many volunteers, and the donations from local businesses really paved the way for a seamless shoot, which has resulted in a homegrown indie film that is already getting industry attention. The Camera Ready recognition from the state is so exciting because larger pro-ductions with bigger budgets, like “Water for Elephants,” can bring more traffic to local businesses and one day, with the help of progressive film training programs at Chattanooga State and Southern Adventist University, lead to quality jobs for residents of the tri-state area. In the meantime I hope aspiring filmmakers, like myself, will con-tinue to shoot in Walker County and create mutually beneficial and positive experiences for all involved."
“We are very proud to receive this recognition from the state,” said Sen. Jeff Mullis, who serves as the executive director for the Northwest Georgia Joint development Authority. “We have been working for some time with com-missioner Heiskell and the Walker County Chamber (of Commerce) on cataloging locations throughout the county as potential sites that might appeal to the entertainment industry. I would also like to thank Randall Franks for all of his hard work behind the scenes in making this designation possible.”
Commissioner Heiskell said, “The recent filming of ‘Water for Elephants’ staring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon out in the Kensington area demonstrates conclusively that our county has unique locations that are attractive to those in the film industry. I appreciate all that has been done by Senator Mullis and others to draw the attention of Hollywood to Walker County. This recognition opens a new door of opportunity for our county.”