MILLEDGEVILLE — The State of Georgia offers some of the best film and TV tax incentives in the country. Georgia's Camera Ready designation places the state right behind the Los Angeles film production juggernaut.
Recent local filming scratched the surface on Milledgeville's potential to jump into the fray. An April music video for the Saatchi and Saatchi Music Video Challenge for OK Go's “I'm Not Through” and a the Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project shot last weekend both used the community's locations and resources.
The music video won people's choice and was one of 12 international finalists for the challenge.
Director BJ Golnick, a 28-year-old University of Miami Motion Picture program graduate, has directed for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Travel Channel, The Learning Channel, History and Animal Planet.
Golnick completed numerous TV work for Los Angeles, Calif. based companies such as Authentic Entertainment and Karga Seven Pictures. He's been on location in Milledgeville directing TLC's “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” reality series.
Along with the TLC show's Athens born 29-year-old associate producer Jeremiah Bennett, Golnick spends off days working on other independent ventures.
Milledgeville's appeal has both guys hooked.
“Everyone is so inviting totally letting us shoot wherever we can. Just having access to these locations the sky is the limit in terms of production,” Golnick said. “We try to always incorporate the local community wherever we are.”
The OK Go video scenes were shot at the Baldwin County Recreation Department, Thomas Street and at local blacksmith Matt McGee's shop.
Wesley Nunn heard the guys needed an older couple for a music video through his Wilkinson County Jail post.
Together with wife Cindy, a teacher at John Milledge Academy, they were cast in the video's finale. Nunn said it was fun to do.
Considering the success of the OK Go production, Bennett and Gregory Duke's Glass Door Entertainment decided Milledgeville was the perfect spot for another industry challenge.
The production group joined the 48 Hour Film Project's 73 Atlanta competitors. Starting Friday, June 14 around 7:30 p.m., the team received their required character, prop and dialogue.
A wildcard chance landed Golnick the zombie genre to direct in a fast-paced weekend.
Using Milledgeville became a simple choice.
“For us when it came to whether we would film in Atlanta, we've made such awesome friends out here that it was a no brainer,” Golnick said.
Nunn was a big local help, according to Golnick and Bennett.
The local resident and well-respected law enforcement figure toured the film team around numerous locations.
“We really didn't know what the subject was going to be, so we had to prepare for anything they threw at us. That's why we looked at so many different sites,” Nunn said.
The short film's main scenes were shot at Treanor Drive and a brickyard warehouse off North Jefferson Street.
Todd and Stacy Pittman at Pittman's Paint & Body Shop provided a red truck flipped on its side for the opening scene of “Strain.”
Stacy described the crew as fun and respectful. The body shop co-owner sees the short film and music video as a positive bringing good publicity.
Treanor Drive resident Glenda Brookins Chandler watched most of the Saturday process lasting from 8 a.m. to near 3 p.m.
“It was amazing to see how many takes they do to produce one little piece of film,” Chandler said. “It's neat they are using Milledgeville for some of this stuff.”
The hospitality here is second to none, according to Golnick. Milledgeville offers locations and helpful folks beyond big budget LA or Atlanta.
Creative support means a lot to independent guys self-funding these projects.
“It's nice to see people care about creativity and know that we don't have the money,” Golnick said.
Bennett said Atlanta is getting so big with new studios that it is the new LA.
Fostering the Milledgeville community's film footprint is important.
“This town is like a virgin film location. We love that. There hasn't been people scamming or wrecking things,” Bennett said. “We are a responsible group. We do everything by the book. All the owners are so flexible.”
Golnick said the town's architecture and landscape opens endless film or TV applications.
“The sky is the limit. You can literally do everything you need to do for every genre and film here. It's an incredible place,” the director said.
Boosting the economy becomes a terrific film industry byproduct. Military fatigues were purchased at Bayne's Army Store.
The 35-person 48-hour film crew felt comfortable and welcome. Golnick said actors from feature films and commercials had a blast.
The Nunns served the crew lunch at JMA's cafeteria after a long Saturday morning.
Nunn is anxious to see how the short film finishes in the competition. The best films make the Cannes Film Festival.
This could be a major deal for Milledgeville.
“We have a lot to offer a film crew to come in and do this. I expect them to get the word out to other people,” Nunn said. “Hopefully, this is a start. It might turn into something for the whole Milledgeville area.”
Glass Door Entertainment used Georgia College students on set. Undergrads get real world experience with pros.
Bennett bragged on the quality of student talent.
“That is such a big resource,” he said. “They are better than many professionals.”
With the TLC reality series on for another year, they aren't going anywhere.
Bennett is already researching a film festival idea to give back as a non-profit. Golnick agreed a long weekend event would bring a ton of people into town.
Both men's hearts are in real, narrative films. Establishing a long-term Milledgeville base isn't yet ruled out. Bennett said bringing a feature film or narrative television pilot to the city is a long-term goal.
“We are going to be here for awhile,” Golnick said. “This is something that could change everything.”
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