Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

COED to Host First-Ever Film Summit in Cherokee

December 1, 2018

“Community” doesn’t just happen overnight. Community, and all its facets, by nature takes time…for listening, trusting, and building, and then listening some more. Cultivating community takes a willingness to be in it for the long game.

Founded 187 years ago, Cherokee has long been a community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and creatives starting from scratch: digging for treasure, grinding out plans, and hatching bold dreams. How did they do it? They listened, they trusted, and they built.

The film industry is no exception.

Ten years ago, our state leadership determined that in order to play host to the film production industry, bold changes were necessary. Both sides of the aisle worked together to create the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act of 2008 that skyrocketed Georgia’s film industry.

Listening to the needs of the newly-thriving industry, the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office launched the Camera Ready Program in 2011—a statewide initiative that entrusted an appointed county liaison with the responsibility of assisting visiting film teams with locations and permitting.

Since adopting this program in 2012, Cherokee has served as the backdrop for over 100 different film projects. From the northern mountain vistas seen from the Salacoa Valley to the urban vibe of Woodstock, Cherokee has a diverse array of natural features, architectural styles, and charming cities frequently considered—and chosen—for filming.

We frequently hear that teams love filming in Cherokee. Due to forethought and planning, our cities, county, and public safety agencies work together seamlessly to permit and assist film teams. Scouts recognize this as unique, and over time, our reputation for listening to needs, established trustworthiness and ability to build relationships has won us many return projects.

Our community does an excellent job of playing the charming host, but our intrigue goes far beyond our hospitality and beauty. We are not one-note players, forever typecast to only play that background role…no, indeed.

Cherokee is not just the host for film. It is the home.

A wide variety of film industry professionals live and work in our community. Some, like Cheryl McKay Price (Screenplay Writer, Indivisible), relocated here from California. Others, like Judd Brannon (Director, Champion) grew up close by and for them, staying here just made sense. Entrepreneurs like Irina Hall and Greg Patten (Storytellers, Creative Muscle Studios) became members of The Circuit because our community is a great place for a business to start-up. In each case, these folks are in Cherokee by choice.

Cherokee is a dynamic community of creatives and innovators, film industry professionals and enthusiasts, extras and leads, and property owners willing to allow filming with business owners and service providers ready to support and invest—and all are living in a county known for its deft ability to host film. The players are here. It’s time to connect them.

The next big move for Georgia’s film industry is to create more original content, and Cherokee’s next big move is to build relationships with the creatives who call Cherokee home.

It is with that in mind that COED has organized the first annual Cherokee Film Summit to be held on January 24, 2019. The Summit is designed to cultivate our film community by bringing business partners, film industry professionals, and local creatives together to create meaningful connections. In partnership with our presenting sponsor, the Yanmar EVO//Center in Southwest Cherokee, this power-packed event will feature networking, break-out sessions, speakers, and panels as we showcase successes and opportunities for business and film in Cherokee.

It will be an opportunity for listening to our neighbors, trusting our instincts, and building relationships that will enable us to make our next big move—after all, isn’t that what community is all about?

Somebody should make a film about that.



To purchase your tickets to the first annual Cherokee Film Summit, visit the Eventbrite page.

Contact Molly Mercer, Film Project Manager for the Cherokee Office of Economic Development for more information at 770.345.0600 or

The Summit is open to film professionals, community business and property owners, creatives, college students and film enthusiasts age 18 and up.

This article originally appeared as “The Long Game” in the December issue of AroundAbout Local Media.