Georgia’s growing film industry is facing a major up hill battle, as new report suggests that there is a major crew shortage.
According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a huge demand for crew workers because of the lack of qualified, trained and skilled workers and the large number of productions filming simultaneously.
According to the report, producers were asked last year about the number and quality of Georgia’s film and TV workers. About 50% of producers were unable to hire all the workers they needed to work on their productions locally.
“Every time there is volume, there is an issue of crew,” said Gideon Amir, a movie and television producer who works in Atlanta on the show “Devious Maids” and other projects. He noted that the quality of available workers doesn’t always meet producers’ standards.
Which leads to constant work for people that are qualified in the film industry, as the WSJ points out.
But, it is important to point why Hollywood is pushing for more local crew members in Atlanta, Georgia. It is all about the money.
CBS Films, hired more than 200 below-the-line workers for “The Duff” shoot. Regional demand is so high that Georgia’s training initiative will be well-received by Hollywood. “If you build it, they will come,” she said.
Union salary for crew workers is a lot higher than non-union workers. And Georgia, a Right to Work State, features hundreds of non-union workers at the producers’ disposal.
The union salary for a “grip” who works with a camera crew can start at nearly $38 an hour in California. The same position, unionized through the local chapter, pays about $26 an hour in Georgia. Taking into account union and pension contributions, labor costs for that position in Georgia are about 25% lower than in California.
But, this should not come as a surprise for those following Georgia’s film industry. Last July, during a meeting between representatives for the film and television industry told state officials that they regularly struggle to find crews in Georgia and have to hire staff from other states.
Projects have struggled to find construction crews, grip and electric teams and special effects, especially for television teams facing a deadline of only a few weeks, said Craig McNeil, production executive at NBC’s cable arm Universal Cable Productions.
McNeil is midway through shooting the first season of “Satisfaction” in Georgia and said the number of projects shooting simultaneously in the state can make it difficult to fully staff.
It is important to point out that one of the biggest producers in Georgia has even complained of the lack of qualified crew members.
David Grant, vice president of physical production for Marvel Studios, called the state’s incentive program one of, if not the best, in the U.S.
But Marvel has struggled to find the experienced and trained special effects technicians, specialty costumers and stunt team members especially important to an action hero production, Grant said.
When they can’t hire locally, crew members have to be flown in from California, he said.
“We’ve found because Georgia is so busy, some of the advantages of being here via the incentive are wiped away because of the amount of people we have to bring in,” he said.
But, Georgia reportedly has a plan to solve this issue. Georgia State University is building a new media production center in downtown Atlanta. The Savannah College of Art and Design has expanded the number of film-related courses, and the Atlanta Media Campus Studios is planning on building on-site classrooms to teach people the ins and outs of filmmaking.
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