Bringing your story into focus.
For generations, people have gathered to share stories — to teach, to encourage, to entertain, and to connect. Though times have changed, our continued need to share our story has not.
The story of how film found its footing in Georgia is powerful and speaks to the bold and innovative spirit of Georgians. In 2003, the biographical film “Ray,” about native Georgian Ray Charles, established its production office in Macon. When Louisiana announced its new film incentive, the team closed the office and headed for the Bayou. As Film Commissioner Lee Thomas put it: “It was time for a bold move.”
The state Legislature, along with industry professionals and the Georgia Film Office, responded with the Georgia Entertainment Industry Incentive Act, which was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2008. As a result, the film industry now employs more than 92,000 Georgians statewide.
Cherokee County is no stranger to this growth.
The inaugural Cherokee Film Summit was held in January, and was rich with stories. Launched by the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), the summit was designed to connect the film industry with our community meaningfully, and to demonstrate the multi-faceted ways in which our community could play a supporting role. This award-winning summit recently received one of the Southern Economic Development Council’s top honors — the Special Judges Award for Comprehensive Community Outreach.
Our film community became family through instructors’ anecdotes shared during break-out sessions, transparent networking conversations, and candid personal accounts from the “Ozark” locations team.
Cherokee’s welcoming community and fluid coordination between city and county agencies has established it in film scout circles as a great place to film. Location professionals often share that a fellow scout recommended Cherokee. The story has gotten out and galvanized Cherokee’s reputation as a prime filming destination, having attracted more than 140 known film projects.
But that’s not the only story there is to tell. Cherokee is not only the backdrop for filmmaking, but a connection point for film professionals. Most recently added to that list was 2019 summitgoer Jack Holloway.
Holloway was no stranger to hard work — he was working in landscaping, but envisioned a career in the film industry. Raised in Cherokee, Holloway kept up with his community, and noticed a promo for the 2019 Cherokee Film Summit on COED’s Facebook page. Wanting an opportunity to refocus his career, he attended the summit.
Afterward, Holloway boldly shared his story with Key Assistant Location Manager for “Ozark” Kevin Dowling, who encouraged him to reach out persistently. He took Dowling’s advice, and two months later was hired as a location assistant on HBO’s “The Outsider.”
“So many times, people give up,” Dowling said. “But Jack was persistent. He’s a hard worker, and he’s going to last in the industry.”
Looking back on the event, Holloway recalled, “I was terrified — Kevin could have shut me down, but he didn’t. You have to take a chance. I saw an opportunity to surround myself with others who were passionate about film and storytelling, and I found it in Cherokee — where I was raised. I took a chance on the film summit, and it paid off.”
No matter where you are in your personal narrative, the 2020 Cherokee Film Summit is a place for all to learn, to grow, to be entertained, and to connect — a place to bring your story into focus.
The 2020 Cherokee Film Summit, an initiative of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, will take place at the YANMAR EVO//Center on Jan. 23, 5-10 pm. Tickets are available through Eventbrite or by visiting www.cherokeega.org.
For more information on the Cherokee Film Summit, email Film Project Manager Molly Mercer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770-345-0600.
– The Cherokee Office of Economic Development, leading organization for business and film recruitment and industry retention