Monday, May 31, 2010

Live Painting for your next Party

This is a video of a live painting I did this past April in Tampa. It was for a fundraiser for a school jazz program. Hopefully you'll recognize Duke Ellington when it's done!
A native Atlantan, Jean Alexander has a background in painting, portraiture, architectural illustration, and, oddly enough, theatre.  These two worlds collided in the form of live painting when Jean did her first live performance painting,  along with six other artists, at North Point Community Church in front of an audience of 12,000 people. That was in 2002, and since  then, Jean has painted for various fund raisers, at conventions, and even as the entertainment in a club. For more information, you can contact Jean at

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Georgia shoots take off

Georgia shoots take off
Aggressive incentives draw high-profile pics

By Jack Egan

When it comes to deciding where to shoot these days, many producers will tell you they have Georgia on their mind.

Recent high-profile film releases lensed in the Peach State include "The Blind Side," starring Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock, "The Last Song" with Miley Cyrus and Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married Too?" Set for the cine-plexes later in 2010: "The Conspirator," directed by Robert Redford; "Lottery Ticket," starring Ice Cube and Bow Wow; "The Killers," with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigel; and "Due Date," starring Robert Downey Jr.

Productions have come flocking to Georgia ever since it boosted its film incentives to 30% in 2008. The hike made Georgia competitive with Louisiana, New Mexico and a handful of other states that have effectively used hefty tax breaks to lure shoots from Hollywood. More than 26 features were shot in Georgia in fiscal 2009, compared with only a couple two years earlier.

"We're definitely in the top five states when it comes to film and television production and No. 1 in our region," says Bill Thompson, deputy commissioner of Georgia's Film, Music & Digital Entertainment office. Production spending has increased by more than 150% since the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act was signed two years ago, according to Thompson, who projects that total outlays could approach $1 billion in 2010.

Georgia provides a basic 20% incentive tax credit for film, television and videogame productions that spend at least $500,000 in a single year. An additional 10% is available if a production includes an animated State of Georgia logo in the titles or credits or some similar product placement within a film. On top of that, there is a sales tax exemption, worth up to 8%, on spending within the state for equipment or services.

"Our incentives are the easiest to use in the country," Thompson says. "There is no sunset clause on the legislation, no limits or caps on Georgia spend, no limits or caps on the amount of tax credits that may be earned, and both residents and non-residents working in Georgia are treated the same," he observes.

Because the financial incentives come in the form of credits, they have to be sold to a company or an individual that has Georgia taxable income, which usually is done through a broker intermediary.

"The value generally ranges between 85 and 90 cents on the dollar but can go up to 92 cents on premium credits, usually from large studios," says Denise Elsbree, head of Georgia Film Credit Consultants. Since 2008 the business "has exploded," she notes. "We feel we've become the go-to state, under consideration for just about any location that we even remotely resemble."

Georgia's tax benefits are leveraged against the state's other attractions to filmmakers, from generally mild weather to a diverse topography that includes mountains, forests, swamps and 100 miles of seashore. Locations range from teeming urban environments to rural hamlets. Georgia also has a number of historic towns boasting unique period architecture.

Coastal Savannah, with its well-preserved streets and planned squares that hark back to its 18th-century founding, is where Forrest Gump sat on his bench and recently served as the period setting for "The Conspirator." Disney's "The Last Song" was shot at nearby Tybee Island.

"Making a movie in some of the neighborhoods can involve a lot friction," says Jay Self, the long-time tourism and film services director for Savannah. "My job is to find a way to accommodate a production that is also good for the city."

Atlanta is already a major media and entertainment complex with a music sector that registers annual revenues of about $2 billion. The city has become a center for hip-hop recordings, spawning stars such as Outkast and Ludacris. It is also the headquarters for Turner Broadcasting with its many cable networks.

It's estimated that more than 25,000 Georgians owe their livelihood to some entertainment-related enterprise. Most important to production companies, Georgia has a deep and experienced film and television crew base that tops 6,000. "We can handle up to 10 film and television productions simultaneously," Thompson says.

Broderick Johnson, one of the producers of Alcon Entertainment's "The Blind Side," says the positive experience of shooting in Georgia drew the company back to do "The Lottery Ticket," which hits theaters in August. In addition to offering creatively appealing locations for both films, "The magnitude of Georgia's tax break is one of the best, if not the best, in the country," he says. Georgia trumps other states with attractive breaks because "it has such a mature crew base you can hire almost everyone locally, so the value of the credit is bigger."

A strong testament to Georgia's incentives appeal to filmmakers is, indeed, repeat business. "Everything about shooting here was tremendous," says Marc Fischer, executive producer of "Hall Pass," directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. The pic recently finished shooting in and around Atlanta.

Georgia served as a substitute for New England, and it was both more economical and easier to shoot the film in Atlanta instead of Boston, Fischer notes. He also praises the city's amenities. "There's a Morton's, a Palm and amazing shops," he says. "Our wardrobe people from Los Angeles were able to find everything here."

Because of the positive experience with "Hall Pass," the next two films Marc Fischer is working on are also set to be filmed in Georgia. "Walter the Farting Dog," based on a children's book of the same name, will begin filming in August. And the much-anticipated "Three Stooges" project -- tentatively starring Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro and "very possibly Jim Carrey," according to Fischer -- starts prepping in Atlanta in January. "We've really found a home here," he says.

Contact the Variety newsroom at

TV producers find a lot to like in Georgia

TV producers find a lot to like in Georgia
Savings can be high enough to allow a new studio to be built

By Karen Idelson

Georgia television production has long been known for "In the Heat of the Night," but a crop of popular newcomers -- "Drop Dead Diva" and "Vampire Diaries" -- have focused the small screen spotlight back on the Peach State.

The producers of "Drop Dead Diva," which shoots in Peachtree City, about an hour south of Atlanta, initially came for the tax rebates. They soon found a lot more in the area that they could use to get the look they wanted -- even places doubling for Los Angeles. And since labor costs and property costs were right, the show was able to build its own backlot. "There's a lot of space here, there are a lot of looks available and the ability to do things quickly and easily," says executive producer Josh Berman. "People really appreciate us in Georgia, too. When we brought Paula Abdul in to shot an episode at a local high school there was a lot of excitement about it, while in L.A. people are sometimes too used to seeing celebrities everywhere."

"Diva" is not the only TV skein making use of the state's varied scenery. "Vampire Diaries" uses soundstages in Decatur, and the city of Covington doubles for its "Mystic Falls" location. Additional shooting takes place in Monroe. The new ABC pilot "187 Detroit" is also shooting in Georgia.

Mark Henderson, owner of Get-a-Grip Atlanta, has seen production come back in quickly since 2008, when Georgia brought back solid incentives for film and television production. "We've always had the infrastructure," says Henderson, whose company has helped put together crews and equipment for "American Idol," "Nanny 911," and a variety of CBS specials. "But I would say in recent years Atlanta has really grown up, and we're starting to be known as a place where you can find mountains and a variety of exteriors and locations for different productions."

Wilbur Fitzgerald, an actor and founding partner in Georgia Film Tax Consultants, began to see an influx of crew about two years ago when Georgia lawmakers began to consider bringing back tax credits. "Crews seem to find out things before anyone, so we began to see people who'd moved away or just new people come into the state for the work," Fitzgerald says. "So right now our crews are very deep, and we have a lot of resources for incoming production." Georgia grants a tax credit of 20% to qualified productions. Qualified companies can also save through a tax exemption that gives companies an immediate point-of-purchase exemption that will save up to 8% on many below-the-line materials and rentals. An additional 10% tax credit can be earned by including an embedded Georgia logo within the completed project.

Contact the Variety newsroom at

Friday, May 14, 2010

Screen Gems Studio Report on WSB

Multimillion-Dollar Movie Studio Planned For Atlanta Posted: 5:14 pm EDT May 12, 2010 Updated: 6:45 pm EDT May 12, 2010 ATLANTA -

A multimillion-dollar soundstage could soon call southeast Atlantahome. Channel 2 Action News reporter Jovita Moore got an exclusive firstlook at plans to turn the Lakewood Fairgrounds into a soundstage for Screen Gems, a New York-based subsidiary of Sony's Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. The development would mean about 1,000 new jobs and many opportunities for new development in and around the Lakewood Fairgrounds. "To have a major company come in like Screen Gems and want to do something is exhilarating," said John Lavelle who handles Atlanta's real estate. The Lakewood Fairgrounds is a property the city has wanted to do something with. "The new soundstage, which will enable film production to take off in Atlanta, will be put where former sheds are," said Lavelle. A LOOK BACK: Lakewood Antiques Market Georgia competed with Tennessee and Louisiana for the development project.

Screen Gems currently has a studio in based in Wilmington, N.C. The Atlanta City Council finance committee approved the deal Wednesday. It now goes to the full city council for a vote on Monday. Among the benefits, the city would get rental income from the deal and millions would be invested into the old fairgrounds. It would also help put Atlanta on the map for moviemakers. Channel 2 has learned that Screen Gems has agreed to terms of an offer. It's ready to lease the fairgrounds for $250,000 a year to start, and make an initial $6 million investment -- replacing old metal sheds that are currently on the property with a Hollywood-type soundstage to make movies and rebuilding much of the infrastructure on 30 acres of land. "We think it's a very favorable deal ... we think it's important for the city of Atlanta to have these new economic development opportunities," said Luz Borrero, Atlanta's deputy COO. Borrero said the city worked for nearly three years to make this happen. "We are competing for this type of industry and it is not a given that they just simply choose us," said Borrero. During Moore's sneak peek at the plans, a Screen Gems executive and a landscape architect were also there reviewing site plans for the fairgrounds. The production company said it is ready to move in as soon as the ink is dry. The four buildings at the fairgrounds site will not be torn down, but instead get much-needed face-lifts. Infrastructure all around the property would also be improved. The city would get $250,000 a year to start, but that rent could get as high as $600,000 after the first 10 years.

The Lakewood Fairgrounds property is very marketable because there is plenty of parking and it is about four miles from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and downtown Atlanta. Visitors also have easy access to Interstates 75/85.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NEW SAG franchised talent agency

THE JANA VANDYKE AGENCY recently became SAG franchised.

Their contact information is:
3655 James Rd.
Suite 114
Acworth, GA 30102
(770) 529-0655
Alison D. Wise
Assistant Executive Director
AFTRA Atlanta Local
SAG Georgia Branch
(404) 239-0131 ext. 12