[See update at the end of this blog post] This past Sunday there was an Atlanta screening of the upcoming Marvel film Ant-Man, featuring comedic actor Paul Rudd in the lead role (YouTube clip). I’m told that among the dignitaries in the audience was Georgia Governor Nathan Deal who, along with a number of our state legislators has been a major supporter of our state’s motion picture industry. Governor Deal has been especially outspoken about Georgia’s plans to continue growing its film industry, going so far as to Georgia Night in L.A. to thank studio executives who have shot in Georgia and to woo more who might consider filming here in the future. It’s unlikely that anyone made a transcript of the Governor’s remarks to the gathered cast and crew of Ant-Man (because I haven’t heard them either), but I’ve been told that his pro-Georgia remarks were not well-received by the audience, which is no surprise to anyone in the industry since a great deal of the crew were from Los Angeles (and many of whom were likely from the crew currently shooting Captain America: Civil War).
As someone who began in the industry back in 1991 I grew accustomed to the parochial attitudes of people from Los Angeles toward those of us working out of Atlanta’s tiny production center. It was as if they were expecting us to be barefoot and wearing overalls. However, the longer I worked the more I understood the business and the basis for what I thought of as “The LA Attitude” – those people worked in an ecosystem that supported filmmaking from concept to home video. Thousands of unique companies existed to provide filmmakers with anything they needed, whereas those of us working in Atlanta were frequently forced to improvise or do without. I’m still proud of the creative improvisation and can-do spirit that we brought to the set in those days, but I now realize the difference between “making it work” and “making it right”. Those of you who are now working in Georgia’s motion picture industry are seeing a lot of things “done right” that we never experienced when I first began.
Georgia still has a long, long way to go before we enjoy the mature ecosystem that Los Angeles has developed over the past 100+ years, and it’s vital that our young film workers not assume an antagonistic attitude toward their colleagues (and potential bosses) from Los Angeles. Why not learn from people who have seen things done the right way?
In that same fashion, it’s important that our Governor’s aides make him aware that his (blessedly) exuberant message of support for Georgia’s motion picture industry may be delivered straight into the faces of men and women who have traveled across the country for work, spending months away from their homes and families. Certainly, these people were motivated by money the same as anyone else, but a far better message might have been to recognize their hard work and sacrifice… to thank them for helping Georgia to build its industry and to then tell them how much you would love it if they would consider moving to Atlanta one day and joining us to forge a new chapter in America’s love affair with the Silver Screen.
Growing pains, y’all. These are just growing pains. I think we’ll get through this.
Until the robots take over in 2029.
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Update: this afternoon I was provided a different perspective of Governor Deal’s remarks at Ant-Man by someone who was in attendance at the screening. Governor Deal is said to have shared an anecdote in which actor Paul Rudd indicated that he preferred shooting in Georgia, then proceeded to cite numbers about the economic impact of the film industry in Georgia, and his new film academy / education through the university system, a supply of future workers requested by the studios. The Governor is undoubtedly looking to shift those distant hires to local hires, which many local workers welcome, and likely fear, as their colleagues (read: competition) from Louisiana and Los Angeles (and elsewhere) move to Georgia’s booming film economy. At the end of the day, hurt feelings aside, this place is only getting busier. Thanks to folks for the updates and questions about this post. My next post will be back to silly crap, thanks. (Please don’t deport me, Governor Deal)