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Filmmakers, economists hope for more film productions in Tennessee

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Posted at 9:46 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 07:39:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Parthenon. Municipal Auditorium. Five Points.

They're three spots with something in common. All were sites where scenes of famous films were shot.

At the Parthenon, there was Robert Altman's "Nashville." At Municipal Auditorium, "Country Strong." At Five Points, yes, "Ernest Scared Stupid." You definitely know some other famous films made in Tennessee, but what does the state of film production look like in Tennessee right now?

"We're ripe," said Hazel Joyner-Smith, founder and CEO of the International Black Film Festival. "We're ready right now for what's happening, and it's going to happen. The enthusiasm is there."

We've all heard about how many Californians are moving to Tennessee. Joyner-Smith makes this point. Those Californians include creatives and people involved with film, TV, and commercials, which inevitably means a greater film presence in Tennessee.

"Our filmmakers are growing by the numbers each and every day," she said. "People are looking for new spaces and places, and we're willing to welcome everyone."

Here's why that matters to the Tennessee economy.

While the "Nashville" TV series was on-air, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp said their surveys found one in five tourists who visited here was because of the show. A new assessment has not been done recently, but before the pandemic, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission said the state ranked seventh in film production employment.

Of course, Tennessee is far behind at least one neighbor. Georgia has long been a state to watch when it comes to film productions, reporting 366 film productions in the 2021 fiscal year.

"As I've said all along, Georgia can't hold it all," laughed Joyner-Smith. "They have dollars that support the film industry through the fact they have income tax. We don't have that."

Georgia has productions by Disney, Sony and Netflix.

Bob Raines of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission told NewsChannel 5 a major new incentive for film productions will be announced soon.

"We certainly want to be known as a place where you can come and make a film," said Joyner-Smith. "We're on our way to doing the Tennessee thing and let Georgia be Georgia."