By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 14, 2018
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Local film festivals are taking off in Valdosta, and now a new push is coming from the state.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has launched the Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition (GSEC) to help launch the film industry all across the state.
"In the travel and tourism industry, particularly in Georgia, the film industry is a really big deal," said Chris Hamilton, President of Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority.
At Valdosta State University, the South Georgia Film Festival has been growing every year. This summer RKDS Entertainment and Media launched a new film festival, RKDS Film Festival, with more than five thousand people attending.
The festival, held at Matthis Auditorium, was host to the late Burt Reynolds months before he passed away.
"I think having Burt Reynolds here kind of, finally legitimized what we've been trying to do for years," said Roy Kirkland, co-founder of the festival.
According to state officials, film is a nearly $10 billion industry in Georgia, but the south is lagging behind. RKDS Entertainment and Media said they're trying to change that.
The new advocacy group, GSEC, is looking to spread that money further. It's goal is to develop legislation and policies to make it easier for the industry to grow. RKDS said it hopes this new development reaches local leaders.
"Hopefully another explosion to help them take notice, and look and see what the film industry is all about, and how we can benefit in this area," Kirkland said.
RKDS filmed its movie 'Spook Bridge' in Quitman, and said local scenes can help spur local tourism.
"It's huge, it's a great source of advertising when a movie is filmed in your community," Kirkland said. "It takes that movie and it goes nation wide and it shows the neat aspect of your area."
Georgia Production Partnership, GPP, will visit VSU next month. The group is made up of staff from Georgia Film Academy, and series like 'The Walking Dead.' Their goal is to help find what this region needs to keep the industry growing locally, and to share expertise from across the state.