It is with great sadness that the Savannah Economic Development Authority announces the passing of Savannah Regional Film Commission (SRFC) Executive Director Erin Fraser. She passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 3.
Erin was named SRFC executive director on Dec. 13, 2022. During her time as executive director she made a tremendous impact on the office and the entertainment production community.
“Erin was a veteran in the entertainment production industry and was already making such a positive impact here in Savannah. She had such a radiant and positive energy that people gravitated to her. She was going to do big things here in Savannah and we are so fortunate that we were able to spend the time we had with her,” said Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison. “We are heartbroken at the loss and offer her husband, her three children and her family and friends our condolences.”
Erin got her start in entertainment production as a senior assistant to Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels where she helped in the development and launch of Conan O’Brien’s Late Night as well as working on Wayne’s World 2, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. She was then tapped as a producer for Broadway Video, Michael’s production company.
Erin also worked as a staff writer for Saturday Night Live as well as an associate producer and talent executive for Burly Bear Network, where she was responsible for developing talent and producing original programming.
Erin was born April 23, 1969, in New York City, N.Y. She graduated top of her class at Sleepy Hollow High School in Tarrytown, N.Y., where she also was a track star. She attended Oxford College of Emory University and served on the Oxford College of Emory University Board of Counselors.
She married her husband, Jay Fraser III on Sept. 6, 1997, and had three children all whom are either alumni or current students at Emory University.
Memorial services in Savannah and New York will be announced at a later date.
Entertainment Production Industry Generates Nearly $207 Million in Direct Spend in Savannah Region in 2022
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Today, the Savannah Regional Film Commission announced that in 2022 the entertainment production industry generated nearly $207 million in direct spend in the Savannah region.
The record spend can be attributed to 101 professional productions and 44 student productions. Savannah hosted three major network television series in 2022, including the Apple TBV series Manhunt, the AMC show Fear the Walking Dead and Panhandle, a Sony production for Spectrum and Roku. Also, several independent feature films shot in the region as well as numerous reality shows, documentaries, commercials, photo shoots and music videos.
“In 2015, the entertainment production industry generated a direct spend of $59 million and today we are announcing a record breaking nearly $207 million direct spend,” said Trip Tollison, President and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority. “It is really staggering the amount of dollars that are coming into our region related to entertainment production. The state of Georgia, our local governments, our partners and the community have all played a role in growing the industry in our region.”
Also today MovieMaker magazine announced its “Best 10 Small Cities and Towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker” ranking with Savannah coming in at number three. Savannah has been in the top three for the past nine years, taking the number one spot in 2020, 2019, 2017 and 2016.
SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Savannah Regional Film Commission (SRFC), an AFCI certified Film Commission, announced today that Erin Fraser has been named the new SRFC Executive Director. She will begin in the position on January 3, 2023.
“We are excited to have Erin Fraser join us as the new Savannah Regional Film Commission Executive Director. She is a seasoned veteran whose experience and connections will be beneficial in leading the Savannah Regional Film Commission and grow the entertainment production industry in our region,” said Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison.
Fraser got her start in entertainment production as a senior assistant to Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels where she helped in the development and launch of Conan O’Brien’s Late Night as well as working on Wayne’s World 2, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep.
Fraser was then tapped as a producer for Broadway Video, Michael’s production company, serving as associate producer on A Night at the Roxbury, co-producer on Superstar and executive producer on The Ladies’ Man.
She also worked as a staff writer for Saturday Night Live as well as an associate producer and talent executive for Burly Bear Network, where she was responsible for developing talent and producing original programming.
Most recently, Fraser produced the feature Rushed working with writer and lead Siobhan Fallon-Hogan. The psychological thriller was released in summer 2021 in both theaters and streaming in collaboration with Lars von Triers’ Zentropa Entertainment. Also in 2021, she wrapped filming for Shelter in Solitude where she served as producer. The drama is being considered for festival appearances in advance of its theatrical release.
“I am excited to join SEDA at such a pivotal time in the recognition and growth of the Savannah region as a leading destination for both film and business interests. The demographics, business friendly environment and high standard of living in the Savannah area will drive continued growth in the years to come. I’m looking forward to leveraging my experience to help the team continue the great work to date,” said Fraser.
The Savannah Regional Film Commission is responsible for overseeing the marketing and selling of the Savannah region to the film and television industry. In 2021, the entertainment production industry had a direct spend of $114 million with 88 professional production and 39 student productions including The Girl from Plainville, The Menu and the soon to be released Devotion.
A part of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, the SRFC was the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Film Commission by the Location Mangers Guild International for their work on The Underground Railroad, an Amazon television series based on the book by Colson Whitehead. Additionally, Savannah was named the number two “Best Small Cities and Towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker” in MovieMaker magazine’s annual ranking. Savannah has consistently been ranked in the top four since 2015, taking the #1 spot in 2020, 2019, 2017, and 2016.
Beth Nelson, who has served as Executive Director for the past seven years and spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the entertainment production industry in the Savannah region, is ready for the next challenge in her career.
“I am very proud to have served as the founding executive director of the Savannah Regional Film Commission,” said Nelson. “It has been a privilege to do my part to move the Savannah film and television industry to the next level and experience the huge success of the last few years. I am very appreciative of SEDA’s vision and support as we took on the challenge of creating the film commission from the ground up. We have achieved the goals that we set out to accomplish and I feel the SRFC can continue with new leadership as I embark on another challenge. Growing the film and television production industry in Savannah has been my passion for many years, and that will continue as I serve the industry in a different capacity. I will continue to work closely with the SRFC office in a supportive way as I move on to other opportunities in the industry.”
Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison praised Beth’s work in growing the industry.
“Beth Nelson is a great advocate for the entertainment production industry in the Savannah region. She has worked tirelessly to sell and market our region to the world, grow our local crew base, establish strong relationships with our local community and most importantly made entertainment production a sustainable industry for our region, said Tollison. “We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors and thank her for her service.”
ATLANTA – August 1, 2022 – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced a chart-topping year for the film and television industry as productions spent $4.4 billion in Georgia during fiscal year 2022 – a new industry record. The Georgia Film Office, a strategic office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), reported that the State of Georgia hosted 412 productions, represented by 32 feature films, 36 independent films, 269 television and episodic productions, 42 commercials, and 33 music videos between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
“When the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia Made productions to eager consumers all around the world – even when some states continued to stay shut down and stifle the industry’s return to normalcy. Because of this partnership approach and the resiliency of our state’s film and television infrastructure, which state and local economic development officials have been working for almost fifty years to build, we are once again celebrating incredible growth and investment from industry leaders.”
Studios and support service companies provide additional infrastructure and jobs not included in productions’ direct spends.
“In addition to providing production jobs that range across a variety of skills from accounting to carpentry to engineering and graphic design, productions are using local vendors, eating at Georgia restaurants, and staying in our hotels,” continued Governor Kemp. “We’re proud to be training more Georgians to be decision-makers in film and television production, keeping their talents in our state, and we look forward to this industry’s continued success in the Peach State!”
In addition to working with studios and communities to bring productions to Georgia, the Georgia Film Office provides multiple resources for local businesses and talent to list their services to industry decision-makers such as the Georgia Reel Crew™ database, which is a searchable, online directory of crew and support services; the Georgia Reel Scout™ database of local properties available for filming; certification and a searchable map of Georgia Camera Ready communities; information on available stage space; and other information that links Georgia assets with industry representatives.
“Georgia’s thriving creative arts and entertainment industries support thousands of jobs across our state,” said Speaker David Ralston. “By working collaboratively between the public and private sectors we have created an economic engine that is the envy of the nation. From blockbuster motion pictures to the latest video games, Georgia-produced content is everywhere, demonstrating our competitive advantages in this multi-billion-dollar industry. For producers who are serious about having access to the best talent available and state-of-the-art facilities, Georgia is on their mind.”
This fiscal year, as Georgia-lensed “Spider-Man: No Way Home” continued to rise on box office charts during the year, movies filmed in Georgia claimed four of the top six spots for highest domestic-grossing movies: “Avengers: Endgame” (No. 2), “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (3), “Black Panther” (5), and “Avengers: Infinity War” (6).
Streaming episodic and limited-series programming continue to choose Georgia for hit programming, including Season Four of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which reached an all-time Neilson streaming record in July for its more than 7 billion minutes of viewing time during the first half of the season. This show, as well Georgia-lensed Netflix hit “Ozark,” each earned 13 Primetime Emmy® nominations in July. Emmy nominations also came in for HBO Max’s “The Staircase,” Disney+’s “Loki” and FX’s “Atlanta” among others, totaling 46 nominations for productions in the state. Georgia-lensed productions earned prestigious Peabody Awards in June: both “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime) and “The Wonder Years” (ABC) won in the “Entertainment” category.
Among other industry developments during the year, Reynolds Capital announced that they would invest $60 million in Athena Studios, a new soundstage development in Athens, Georgia. Athena Studios will initially host approximately 350,000,000 square feet of stage and mill space as well as a building for the University of Georgia and the Georgia Film Academy to teach students film production.
Cinelease Studios-Three Ring broke ground on a $144-million studio expansion in Covington, and Electric Owl Studios broke ground on their 17-acre site in the City of Stone Mountain, where Capstone South Properties and Domain Capital Group are building the world’s first ground-up, LEED Gold-certified film and TV studio campus in March. Also in March, United Talent Agency kicked off their new full-service office, where all 40 of their divisions will be actively represented in Atlanta, from film and TV to gaming and sports to podcasting and music. While developing the former Doraville GM site, Gray Television announced a new partnership with NBCUniversal Media (NBCU) to lease property for content creation as well as manage all production facilities, including Gray’s studios. This partnership is estimated to create more than 4,000 new jobs in the state.
The largest studio-based equipment company in the world for film, television, and events, MBS Equipment Company (MBSE), in October 2021 announced the opening of their new East Coast headquarters at Trilith Studios in Fayette County.
“The credits rolling are the names of our neighbors and our cities, and it’s incredibly exciting to bring our Georgia people and places around the world through entertainment,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We thank Georgia’s leadership, the companies doing business here, the professionals at our Georgia Film Office, and all of our partners who have worked continuously to bring more film and television production to Georgia. Their tireless efforts improve the lives of thousands of Georgians and their families, and a make significant positive impact on our state’s overall economy.”
In addition to new homes, shops, and production space at Trilith Studios in Fayetteville, The Town at Trilith now has a state-of-the-art boutique hotel, expected to open in fall 2023. As production blurs the line between passive and active viewing with the use of virtual and augmented reality, Trilith Studios and NEP Virtual Studios announced a new state-of-the-art virtual production facility – the first Prysm Stage has become available at the Creative Technologies District at Trilith Studios. This permanent stage facility will offer filmmakers stable and advanced real-time workflows and technology, operated by experienced virtual production experts.
“It’s very gratifying to see the continued commitment to Georgia’s film industry through local investment in soundstages, support services companies, and educational programs throughout the state,” said Georgia Film Office Director Lee Thomas. “We send a big thanks to the companies who have invested here and the communities that work so hard to make films dreams a reality for their local residents and economy.”
Gaming, esports, and other interactive entertainment projects such as mobile games; virtual reality, augmented reality, and console and PC game development are also part of production growth in the state, but are not included in the film industry’s direct spend totals. Riot Games recently announced that the 2022 League of Legends World Championship semifinals will be held in Atlanta.
Savannah was named the #2 Best Place to Live and Work as a Moviemaker: Small Cities and Towns 2022, by Moviemaker Magazine!!!
Savannah has consistently been ranked in the top four since 2015, taking the #1 spot in 2020, 2019, 2017, and 2016.”Hollywood knows that Savannah is the go-to location for architectural treasures, top-notch crews, and locations that can double for just about anywhere in America,” says MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Molloy. “But it’s not just a great place to make a movie — it’s become a great place for filmmakers to build a life.”
Savannah named number two “Best Small Cities and Towns to
Live and Work as a Moviemaker” by Moviemaker magazine
The entertainment production industry generated
$114 million in direct spend in 2021
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Savannah was named the number two “Best Small Cities and Towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker”in MovieMaker magazine’s annual ranking. Savannah has consistently been ranked in the top four since 2015, taking the #1 spot in 2020, 2019, 2017, and 2016.
“Hollywood knows that Savannah is the go-to location for architectural treasures, top-notch crews, and locations that can double for just about anywhere in America,” says MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Molloy. “But it’s not just a great place to make a movie — it’s become a great place for filmmakers to build a life. Work opportunities abound, SCAD leads a thriving local film community, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development reported a record $4 billion in direct spending on productions in the state in the 2021 fiscal year. The beauty and affordability of the town also means a very agreeable work-life balance. It’s a magical place with a down-to-earth work ethic.”
“Since 2015, the Savannah Economic Development Authority and our partners have worked to strategically position Savannah as the place for entertainment production,” said Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison. “With a well-known and effective state tax credit, our local incentive and aggressive marketing combined with a backdrop that can be almost anywhere in the world, our efforts have paid off.”
“We are thrilled to be recognized once again and be named in 2022 by MovieMaker as the second best small cities and towns to live and work. Being named in the top four for the past seven years has helped our region build a sustainable crew base, which in turn helps us attract more productions to the region,” said Savannah Regional Film Commission Executive Director Beth Nelson.
The Savannah Regional Film Commission reported that in 2021 the entertainment production industry had a direct impact of nearly $114 million. Eighty eight professional productions were shot in the Savannah area in 2021 including Devotion, The Girl From Plainville, Chase and Tyler Perry’s Jazzman’s Blues.
“Due to the pandemic, we saw productions completely shut down and the industry took a big hit here in Savannah and across the world,” said Nelson. “Starting in late 2020, our phones began to ring, and we saw the return of production in 2021 making it one of our most successful years. We anticipate 2022 to be just as busy if not more so.”
In October 2021, the Savannah Regional Film Commission was named the number one “Outstanding Film Commission” by the Location Managers Guild International. The Savannah Regional Film Commission was nominated for its work on The Underground Railroad, a 2021 television series that chronicles Cora Randall’s desperate bid for freedom in the Antebellum South. Five other film commissions were also nominated for the award including Estonian Film Institute, Bath Film Office, Screen Queensland Australia, Liverpool Film Office and Hamilton Music & Film Office. Past winners include Toscana Film Commission, Film Otago Southland, Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, Royal Film Commission of Jordan, FilmL.A., City of Long Beach Office of Special Events and Filming and Albuquerque Film Commission.
Also in October 2021, the SEDA Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentives. These incentives are in addition to the tax credit the state of Georgia offers.
“The Savannah Entertainment Production Incentives combined with the state of Georgia’s tax credit program, have significantly raised Savannah’s profile as a desired location for entertainment production,” said Tollison.