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British film-TV production studios coming to Fayette

UPDATED — Pinewood Studios, responsible for the James Bond films — including the latest blockbuster, “Skyfall” — the Harry Potter series, the Hobbit and the musical “Les Misérables,” is in talks with local and Atlanta investors to locate a major film and television production facility on 288.5 acres in the center of Fayette County, The Citizen has learned.

Paperwork for rezoning the properties — code-named “Stargate” — was filed with the Fayette County Planning and Zoning Department Tuesday afternoon.

To be known as “Pinewood Atlanta,” Phase One of the development would be on the southwest corner of the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Sandy Creek Road in unincorporated Fayette County just west of Fayetteville.

The official news release from Fayette County Development Authority CEO Matt Forshee came Wednesday afternoon, following exclusive publication about the project in The Citizen:

“Investment group to develop major film production center in Fayette

“Group in discussions with UK’s Pinewood Studios to operate facility

“Fayetteville, Ga. – Rivers Rock, LLC, representing a group of Atlanta-area investors, announced today that it has filed development documents with the Fayette County Board of Commissioners to build what would be the largest film production complex in metro Atlanta on a 288-acre site in north-central Fayette County, Ga.

“The investment group also announced that it is in discussions with London-based Pinewood Studios Group to manage and operate the studio complex.

“Located 15 minutes south of Hartsfield-Jackson international Airport and 25 minutes south of downtown Atlanta, the proposed development site would initially include the construction of five purpose-built state-of-the-art sound stages.

“These soundstages would be designed to utilize the latest technology available in film production.

“Additionally, the developers will construct a series of administrative buildings and production offices as well as support buildings for set and effects development and space for film equipment vendors. Space will also be provided for backlot development for television and film location operations. The initial investment is expected to be $20 million.

“Construction is expected to begin this spring, pending permit approvals, and the initial phase is expected to be operational during the first quarter of 2014.

“The facility would be expanded in future phases as demand for sound stages and film production space increases, though no plans have been finalized yet on those expansions.

“Future development plans do include the establishment of a professional film production school in partnership with the studio to help grow Georgia’s film workforce.

“Discussions are currently ongoing with multiple higher education institutions to locate on the site,” the FCDA news release concludes.

Preliminary ideas include production offices, initial production stages, a mill works shop, a film school, a continuing education center, administration offices and a catering and culinary school, The Citizen has learned. While the studio has a reputation for world-class films, the Fayette location would focus on high quality television productions.

Preliminary plans ask for rezoning to accommodate 381 paved parking spaces.

The project will be unlike anything ever seen in Fayette County and promises to become an economic growth engine, according to those familiar with the plans.

Upwards of 500,000 square feet of sound stages, production facilities and ancillary offices are envisioned for the site, The Citizen has learned. The rezoning plans show at least eight such larger structures in addition to clusters of smaller buildings. Zoning being sought is GB (general business).

British-based Pinewood Studios Group is a leading provider of studio and related services to the worldwide film and entertainment industry. Headquartered 20 miles west of London, in Buckinghamshire, the company has more than 1 million sq. ft. of stage and studio space in five countries.

The world-famous “007 stage,” at 59,000 sq. ft., is the largest of the company’s more than 60 stages and studios spread around the world. The entire James Bond series, including the most recent “Skyfall,” was filmed on Pinewood stages.

Wikipedia lists 121 movies filmed on Pinewood stages in its 77-year history, 42 of them since 2000. Recent blockbusters include “Les Miserables,” “Prometheus,” “Snow White and the Huntsmen,” “The Hobbit,” the first and second Harry Potter films, and “Dark Knight.”

In addition to movies, Pinewood stages are home to television shows, commercials, and more. Pinewood Group has three locations in England, plus facilities in Toronto, Berlin, the Dominican Republic and Malaysia.

Pinewood itself does not develop film projects; instead it provides the production infrastructure to actually get the project onto film: sound stages, sets, lighting and the like.

The studio was founded in 1936 by J. Arthur Rank, a wealthy flour magnate and devout Methodist. Rank’s interest in the film industry was born of his vision for making films with a religious and moral message.

A major draw for film companies to locate in Georgia involves tax credits.

State tax credits adopted a handful of years ago have played a major role in improving Georgia’s profile as the Hollywood of the south.

Under current law, production companies who spend a minimum of $500,000 get a 20 percent transferable tax credit, which jumps by an additional 10 percent if the company uses an imbedded state promo logo in the film, TV series, music video or video game project, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Moreover, there is no cap on the credit, which means the more production companies spend here, the more they will save here too.

In the 2011 fiscal year, the entertainment industry spent more than $689.3 million in Georgia, according to GDED. Last year, some 333 productions filmed in Georgia including feature films, TV series, commercials and music videos.

The state tax credits offered by Georgia apply to all in and out-of-state labor working in Georgia, and standard fringe benefits qualify for the credit as well.

Fayette County has become qualified as a “camera ready” community through GDED to assist with location scouting and other efforts.

Fayette has hosted several movies in recent years including portions of “Sweet Home Alabama” which were filmed at Starr’s Mill and also “Joyful Noise” which was filmed at several local churches along with a big scene at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City.

Fayette has also hosted the “Drop Dead Diva” television show on the Lifetime network, which filmed in a modified hangar at Falcon Field Airport and on various locations around the area.

Nearby Senoia has been the scene stealer on the southside when it comes to TV shows by hosting the production of the top-rated cable drama “The Walking Dead.” In fact, charming downtown Senoia itself plays a backdrop, down to the unkempt landscaping in the medians as an homage to a world in which humans are on the run from zombies.

In addition to providing tax breaks and location scouting, GDED also offers a help wanted hotline and website to help production companies recruit cast and crew.

The 30-acre campus of River’s Elementary School will also play a role in the overall development, although no final deal has been reached on the property owned by the Fayette County Board of Education. The elementary school is expected to receive a makeover and become a campus of Savannah College of Arts and Design, as detailed in a nearby story.

— Reporting by Joyce Beverly, John Munford and Ben Nelms.



With Georgia's draconian marijuana laws, this is a very bad idea. California is a good place for studios because they developed a tolerance for marijuana use. In Georgia, you will end up with talent that no longer has a drivers license to go to work.

This is a very bad idea.

Church of Smoke

Or is this the Jose who moved from PTC to Kalifornia?

Jose, are you saying that one cannot be creative and gifted and earn a living in the arts without the benefit of mind altering substances?

Who says we want those left coasters coming here to work, with or without their weed or licenses? We want to have our local youth to have opportunities to learn the crafts offered by the studios. We want them to be able to be raised here with values from their own community and family and neighbors. Then, they stay here and go on to learn from classes and apprenticing and tutoring and OJT training the job skills needed to support the next generations of those who grew up here. Keep them here. So, so many have moved to this county in the last 20-30 years from other parts of the country and are now experiencing the pain of families who cannot get together at holidays and life events to celebrate. Many moved here for jobs and a more affordable life. We still have the affordable life, compared to other parts of the country, but let's now try to get the families to live here for more than one generation without having to move away for a job. Even for those born and raised here for generations, I do believe many experience children and grandchildren moving away for jobs.

I say bring some jobs here, encourage a love of the arts that seems to be fading away and let the future create a new economy that can still honor the values in place.

And if all else fails, just remember, in the next few years, boomers and all those younger will be legally sucking on that weed right along with the POTUS in the White House, since that is a little known line item in the Obamacare book of truths. Chapter 641, paragraph 22, lines 87 thru 92.

Will change, just like Sunday liquor sales......

Live amd let live..

Vote Libertarian!

Look how long it took Georgia to get Sunday liquor sales. Not only does alcohol cause liver rot, but it makes beer guts as well. You don't want your artists on stage with beer guts.

If you want to bring high-tech studio jobs to Fayette County, then legalize marijuana for recreational use now. You will end up with a lot more high-tech businesses than one studio.

Church of Smoke

On the downlow. Drop the attitude while you are at it.

Do not come here demanding change and exoect us all to bow down.

I hope the studio is reading this. Georgians are happy with things just as they are, so don't expect them to change.

It would be an act of lunacy for the studio to open up in Georgia with their draconian marijuana laws.

You're right, do not come here demanding change. Instead, stay away. That's the way Georgians want it.

Church of Smoke

S. Lindsey's picture

Geeze I thought you potheads were supposed to be mellow and all that man...

If the people want to change it they will if not and you don't like it well I hear we have open borders now so......

Funny how Progressive flee the crumbling States they help to create, move to more stable States then try to bring the very same laws and values that crushed their former State they fled from...

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

Liferfrom65's picture

Go change some other state Jose. Try NJ.

New Jersey would not be my pick.

Church of Smoke

Georgians can change or not change. I am simply stating that it would be an act of lunacy to build a substantial studio where the talent could end up in prison for many years half way through a $100 million movie.

It is much better to start a studio in a unionized state than in Georgia where the cost of doing business is a lot more risky.

Church of Smoke

Wow, now there's a state motto. Put it up in lights, courtesy of a left coast union member who is so p.o.'d that he had to move here where the union just ain't taking care of his every need like it did in Ca.

For you to infer that the people who live in this state cannot be trained in the movie/tv industry because they don't need a union to hold their hand in every decision made speaks volumes about the actual need for the movie/tv industry to move here. You couldn't be a better poster boy for the studio owners/managers if they dreamed one up themselves. Keep up the good work.

By the way, Jose, how many studios have you built?

I am sitting in a studio that I built now.

Church of Smoke


It appears that you might be the local dealer. Are you the one who sold Horgan his pot or do you just deal to the local "creative" people at the movie set? Either way sheriff Babb might be paying you a visit. See you at the courthouse, lol

Usually it is the liberals who attack the person instead of the issue.

Church of Smoke

You just might besurprised how many FC citizens are fiscal conservatives and social moderates--who just might not object if marijuana was legalized. Surely the criminal element would not be happy and part of the LE missions would certainly change. But even if a State approval happened, that wouldn't change Federal law which would prevail in a legal confrontation.

Nullification of federal law is how alcohol prohibition ended.

Eighteen or so states have already nullified federal marijuana laws, one of those states is where this studio should go.

Church of Smoke

Oakland is receiving over $100,000 in marijuana taxes per month to fight the feds over federal law.

Do you want to bet that federal law will prevail?

Church of Smoke

Governor Deal seems to have no problem nullifying Obama's gun restrictions and Obamacare.

It was Justice Scalia who sided with the liberals and created the drug war exception to the Constitution.

Recreational marijuana should be a Conservative issue but you have Hannity and Limbaugh backed by the Christian Taliban of Georgia to distort the meaning of liberty, freedom, individual responsiblity, and limited government.

Georgia is too backwards for a studio like this one. The Walking Dead can lose a star and pick up another lead, but this would not be the case for a Bond movie.

Church of Smoke

You should work on that.

Liferfrom65's picture

That's the way we want it.

People can be creative without marijuana but most people who are creative can think for themselves and know marijuana is safer than aspirin. They don't believe the rhetoric from the slave state politicians of Georgia and Old Testament cool aid drinkers who categorize marijuana as Schedule I, being as dangerous as heroin.

Steve Jobs was an avid marijuana smoker who probably died from cancer caused by paraquat poisoning from the government's program to spray poison on Mexican weed. Steve didn't like that Kalifornia weed grown indoors with fungus on it, but preferred outdoor sun-grown weed with lower potency that allowed him to be creatively conscious.

I believe it is idiotic to open a creative production studio of this size in a draconian state like Georgia where the preferred recreational substance is alcohol that causes liver rot.

Church of Smoke

NUK_1's picture

Yeah, they are archaic as most of the US, and not just pot for that matter. Still, it's a misdemeanor offense in GA as in most states and there are plenty of areas in California that "don't look the other way" in terms of using/possessing/buying marijuana under an ounce for that matter and you'll get a citation or worse.

Creative people want to come to states like Georgia to get away from unionized everything and big tax burdens out in California, and also take advantage of the tax incentives the state of GA offers and is starting to make some serious progress with into mass media. Creative people should also know that there MAY be consequences to breaking the law anywhere you may be, though some take a few arrests to get that through their heads.

Can't stand drug laws but I don't excuse those who don't follow them simply because they are "creative, intelligent, rich, poor, etc." Do what you want but don't whine if you get busted breaking a law you damn sure knew existed.

Imagine half way through a $100 million James Bond movie, one of the leads gets a seven year prison sentence for a marijuana seed that accidently sprouted in the back yard, or for having four ounces of pot.

The studio would be overjoyed with a union if it meant avoiding the draconian marijuana laws of Georgia.

Church of Smoke

Read back over your posts on this subject and see just how much sense they make.

If you find something inconsistent with my comments, what are they?

Church of Smoke

S. Lindsey's picture

Have you seen California lately? Businesses are fleeing at a record rate.. I don't think Business owners are looking to have a drug fueled workforce. They are looking for Business friendly workforce with lower taxes and less regulations... I don't think these guys are going to be making Cheech and Chong movies there Jose..

Now what you do after work couldn't care less...

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

My comments are specific to the TV / movie business. Georgia is the wrong place for the type of talent that is needed.

Church of Smoke

What type of talent is it, Jose, that is needed? Be specific, oh mr. expert.

Is that specific enough for you?

Church of Smoke

Surely you jest. Continue on, Jose. When the smoke clears, you might have a coherent thought.

Cyclist's picture

[quote=Jose4] Georgia is the wrong place for the type of talent that is needed.[/quote]

It does appear this studio believes otherwise.

Now, go back to your closet and smoke your weed.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Until there is actual ground breaking, there is time to back out.

Church of Smoke

Cyclist's picture

[quote=Jose4]Perhaps if they read my comments they will think again.[/quote]

is making you think you are important. I suspect they can care less about your comment.

Now back in the closet and inhale deep. Do something that Clinton claims he never did.

Oh, and stay off the roads. I would hate to see in the Citizen that Jose cuarto was busted for DUI.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

You probably have a beer gut, are over weight, and are borderline if not full fledged diabetic.

Typical middle aged Georgian.

Church of Smoke

Cyclist's picture

Your assumption of my physique brings what to this conversation? Who is assuming too much?

After a response like that I have to wonder if your mommy or daddy know you're using their computer. Perhaps you should ask them first.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

It is common to be an overweight alcoholic or a physically fit marijuana smoker. It's not your fault.

Church of Smoke

Cyclist's picture

I'll remember that on my next 50 mile ride. Anyways, it's almost 7:30 so you better run along and get to bed. You little ones need plenty of sleep.

BTW, how was grade school today?

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

that you ride on your tricycle?

Quoting from Atlanta Business Chronicle

Atlanta still has the highest percentage of delinquent commercial mortgages compared to other U.S. metro areas, according to newly released data.

Looks like Georgia is a great place to do business.

Church of Smoke

From PTC to Pine Mountain....

You should try and keep up

is not for me. Are you a steroid boy like Lance Armstrong?

Church of Smoke

Fayette County, Georgia

Today, production on the upcoming and highly anticipated James Bond movie came to a screeching halt as police arrested Mr. Bond for posession and distribtution of marijuana. A search warrant was obtained after a police drone flew over Mr. Bond's home and detected marijuana smoke emanating from the residence. A subsequent search discovered slightly over four ounces of marijuana and evidence that Mr. Bond had been sharing his marijuana with a co star.

Pinewood Studios pleaded with local authorities to use some common sense but the response was "do not come here demanding change and expect us all to bow down" and "you should have opened your stupid studio in New Jersey."

Church of Smoke

Is this the best you have? Bwhahahaha.

After last month's arrest of James Bond, Pinewood Studios declared bankruptcy today. "We should have realized that Georgia was not ready for a studio of this class" said CEO after losses were projected into the hundreds of millions.

Church of Smoke

I now have to go pluck 3 nose hairs that are ingrown, Joe see. Continue on with your blithering.

Having a discussion like this compares to a dialogue with Pumkin.

Sometimes, my friend, you need to learn when to quit.

Yes, you are so right. Closer to having one with a dog turd on the frozen ground, but I get your point.

My nostril is calling.

Adios para ahora, mi amigo, marido y grasa.

I am obviously in the midst of intellectual giants who are highly representative of Georgia residents.

Church of Smoke

giants than in the company of an intellectual midget, wouldn't you agree?

Evidently you have not been reading your newpapers, etc. There have been quite a few movies/tv shows produced in the near vicinity and many in Georgia. Evidently, the powers that be in the film industry are more aware than you of the benefits of locating in Georgia. Perhaps it is because the have more on their mind than the growing season for weed. Anyway, if it becomes a burning issue (no pun intended) they can always connect with one or more of our ousted politicians for a hook-up.

Yes I am well aware of what goes on in Senoia.

I am also aware that 40,000 Georgians get arrested for marijuana every year.

This new studio is on a different scale and I don't believe Georgia is ready for it. Perhaps if the Georgia lawmakers got off their rear ends they could get the Christian Taliban to back off.

Church of Smoke

No smoke here in GA....LMAO

you obviously are a pot stirrer...pun intended


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