Filmmakers and economists hope for more film productions in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – The Parthenon. Municipal auditorium. Five Points.

These are three spots with something in common. All were sites where famous movie scenes were filmed.

At the Parthenon, there was “Nashville” by Robert Altman. At the Municipal Auditorium, “Pays Fort”. At Five Points, yes, “Ernest Scared Stupid”. You certainly know of other famous films made in Tennessee, but what is the state of film production like in Tennessee right now?

“We are mature,” said Hazel Joyner-Smith, founder and CEO of the International Black Film Festival. “We’re ready right now for what’s happening, and it’s going to happen. The enthusiasm is there.”

We’ve all heard of the number of Californians moving to Tennessee. Joyner-Smith makes this point. These Californians include creatives and people involved in film, television, and commercials, which inevitably means a greater film presence in Tennessee.

“Our filmmakers are growing in number every day,” she said. “People are looking for new spaces and places, and we are ready to welcome everyone.”

Here’s why it matters to Tennessee’s economy.

While the “Nashville” television series aired, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp said their surveys found that one in five tourists who traveled there were because of the show. A new assessment hasn’t been done recently, but before the pandemic, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission said the state ranked seventh in film production employment.

Of course, Tennessee is far behind at least one neighbor. Georgia has long been a state to watch when it comes to film productions, reporting 366 film productions in fiscal year 2021.

“As I’ve always said, Georgia can’t contain it all,” laughed Joyner-Smith. “They have dollars supporting the film industry through the fact that they have an income tax. We don’t have that.”

Georgia has productions from Disney, Sony and Netflix.

Bob Raines of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission told NewsChannel 5 that a major new incentive for film productions will be announced soon.

“We definitely want to be known as a place where you can come and make a movie,” Joyner-Smith said. “We’re about to do the Tennessee thing and let Georgia be Georgia.”

Marjorie N. McClure