Film industry center stage at conference

Almost 100 tourism professionals descended on Woodstock this week for the annual three-day Georgia Regional Visitor Information Center Conference.

At this year’s event hosted by the Woodstock Convention and Visitors Bureau as a part of Georgia Cities Week, attendees learned how Cherokee County is rising to the top in the film industry.

Camera Ready liaison and project manager Videssa Ormsby with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development presented Cherokee’s success in the film industry and how the county continues to thrive on the big screen Thursday at the Woodstock City Center.

 

Portions of major features that were filmed in Cherokee County in the last five years include “Hidden Figures;” “American Made,” starring Tom Cruise; “Hangman,” starring Al Pacino; “Champion;” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green;” “90 Minutes in Heaven;” “Miracles from Heaven;” and “The Founder.”

Camera Ready Communities is a program that was started in 2010 by the Georgia Film, Music and Digital department out of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Ormsby said.

“Their goal was to get every county in the state of Georgia licensed and trained to be what they call ‘camera ready,’” she said. “Since we joined in 2011, we have had major strides in our camera ready activity. In the past five years our film activity has increased by 464 percent, which we are very proud of.”

In 2011, Cherokee County had 17 film prospects that contacted Ormsby and her team, she said.

“Last year we had 96 prospects in our community,” Ormsby said. “We think that is awesome. It’s a lot of fun to work with these different film production companies. Three major films were filmed here in 2016, 10 TV episodes and six commercials.”

A big step forward for the Cherokee with regards to the film industry, Ormsby said is the filmed Netflix series “Ozark” starring Jason Bateman.

“The original goal for release of the series is June of this year,” she said. “They came into our community in July of last year and filmed until the end of January.”

Bringing film to Cherokee County has been a win-win for everybody because when film crews come to Cherokee, they eat, shop and sleep at local businesses and hotels, Ormsby said.

Ormsby said the Reel-Scout database is an invaluable tool for both the county and potential films looking for locations to shoot and allows film prospects to see specific “unique and different” areas and locations within Cherokee that could fit their filming needs.

“We have 135 properties on the database and I have a lot more to add,” she said. “When the state office gets prospects they look at our database and send different locations. When someone says ‘hey I’m looking for a roadside motel’ I know I am going to push Pine Crest Lodge in Holly Springs because it is the perfect roadside motel and I have the picture of it, the contact for Pine Crest and they have already said they are a film friendly property.”

Ormsby said Cherokee has a camera ready committee formed by local economic developers, city representatives, county planners, tax accessors, local photographers and more who help with the county’s film industry process.

“They have been awesome on giving me locations and ideas to present to potential scouts,” she said.

 

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