According to FilmL.A., Georgia is now recognized as the #1 filming location in the world. The great tax incentives and dynamic landscapes have made the choice simple for production crews, and the economic impact on the state and camera-ready communities has paid off greatly. In 2016, Georgia’s tourism impact generated $61.1 billion in revenue and supported over 450,000 jobs!
In the last year, 320 productions have migrated to Georgia to shoot in various locations. Of these 320 productions, more than 10 have filmed in Covington and Newton County, Georgia, one of the first camera-ready communities in the state. However, the economic impact of film in our area relies on more than just these recent productions.
Because Covington was shot on-location for popular TV series’ such as the Dukes of Hazzard, In the Heat of the Night, and The Vampire Diaries, fans visit the town frequently to step into the real-life set and backlot city that they know and love. “We love having a television show scout our area because of the longevity a series offers. Because they usually run for several seasons, fans will always want to visit the filming locations of their favorite TV shows,” says Newton County Tourism Director and Film Commissioner, Jenny McDonald. In fact, direct spending from tourists in Covington/Newton County increased by $60 million from 2002 to 2012! And the film legacy in Newton County has only continued to grow since then.
Covington is home to some of the most prominent locations used on-set of the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. Because the series grew in popularity throughout its eight seasons on the air, the volume of vampire fans and tourists visiting the area increased with every season. Over the past few years, the historic town square has welcomed a handful of trendy new restaurants and boutiques for both locals and tourists to enjoy.
Additionally, Newton County offers a series of tours for guests to enjoy when they visit the area, especially for film tourism. Visitors can choose among self-guided location tours to see historic homes and sites from many local productions, on-location tours with Vampire Stalkers/Mystic Falls Tours, as well as Covington Ghost Tours for local, historic hauntings.
The Georgia Office of Tourism and Economic Development helped the Covington/Newton County Visitor’s Bureau develop the Undead Trail, along with partnering cities, which makes a necessary pit-stop in our community. Offering tours to our many visitors from all over the world is not only a great experience for our tourists, but also benefits the local economy. During last year’s Vampire Diaries Series Finale Party, over $2500 was raised for the county in just 3 hours from offering tours of the historic courthouse and clocktower.
In 2016, tourism in Newton County generated a whopping $129.02 million in direct tourist spending, which was an increase of over $3 million dollars from 2015! The economic impact of film tourism last year also supported local payroll in excess of $23 million, and generated $3.70 million in local tax revenues. Not to mention, Newton County residents saw a significant tax break per household as a result of taxes generated by tourism economic activity.
We are interested to see how the local economic impact of film will be affected once the new Three Ring Studios opens in Covington. This studio will have three campuses and a soundstage for TV, film, and video game production, as well as an awesome backlot for production. These three campuses are currently under development, and the studio is sure to bring a host of new opportunities with it! Once Three Ring Studios is open for business, film capabilities in our community will expand from on-location shooting to whatever a director needs to complete his/her creative vision for a production. To learn more about the current development of this new production studio, follow Three Ring Studios on Facebook and Twitter.