|New East Mountain Studios beckons filmmakers to Conyers|
|Friday, 01 March 2013 11:14 | Written by Mackenzie N. Morgan|
CONYERS—East Mountain Studios, which opened last month as Georgia’s newest film production facility, is poised to launch three major projects beginning this summer.
Thomas Blake, East Mountain’s vice president of operations, said the facility at 2030 East Park Drive in Conyers, is working on inking deals for two feature films slated for production this summer. The studios also will break ground on its 10-acre backlot development, which it is touting as the largest on the East Coast.
“We can’t tell you the companies or names of the films right now because we’re still working on the contracts, but one of the films is about a comic book series,” Blake said.
Blake said East Mountain plans to start building a “New York backlot,” which will include replicas of various sites in the Big Apple.
“New York is very popular, when it comes to movie scenes. We expect our New York backlot to be very popular,” Blake said. “We will have bricks and mortar replicas of New York City’s Times Square, Lower Manhattan, Central Park and lower Eastside featuring shopping and brownstones.”
Blake said East Mountain also plans to build customized backlots for movies and other projects, which in turn are expected to boost Rockdale County’s economy even more.
“You’re talking about craft services, local lumber and hardware supply stores, catering companies, all of those things are needed when you talk about building backlots to make a movie,” Blake said.
Blake said he plans to give local vendors and others the first shot at opportunities.
“We work closely with local vendors and local talent. We always put the local community first,” Blake said.
People throughout the metro Atlanta area are excited about the economic possibilities. Hundreds of people, including film industry executives, entertainment vendors, and residents and elected officials from Rockdale, DeKalb and neighboring counties turned out to celebrate the Feb. 20 soft opening of the 130,000-square-foot studios. The facility has four sound stages, conference rooms, office facilities and sits on 18 acres.
Diane Adoma, who chairs the team of ambassadors for the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, said the celebration was a huge success.
"We had over 500 people attend. It was one of the largest ribbon-cutting ceremonies we have ever performed,” Adoma said.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden said Rockdale County is perfectly positioned for the film industry with its proximity to I-20, Atlanta, and the airport.
“Rockdale County has been successful in attracting a number of film productions. However, we realize with the creation of a major facility of this magnitude, it places us in a unique position to attract even more,” Oden said.
In recent years, tax breaks and other incentives have made Georgia a magnet for film makers, said Bill Leavell, who is serving as community outreach coordinator for East Mountain’s board of directors. Last year, some 300 film-related productions grossed more than $3 billion in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“The turnout for East Mountain’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was fantastic. You get a sense for how big this industry really is when there are events like this,” said Leavell.
Leavell, who formerly served as executive director for the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center in DeKalb County, said he plans to work closely with East Mountain to attract filmmakers, commercials and other projects.
Rockdale has attracted box office giants such as Time Warner, Paramount and Universal Pictures to film scenes for movies such as “American Reunion” from the “American Pie” series, “Fast Five,” and most recently, “Joyful Noise.”
William Emofonmwan, chair of the Main Street Program Board in Conyers, said East Mountain’s opening is a win-win for the county.
“I was really glad to see East Mountain Studios come to Conyers. Our board will support Mr. Blake and the studio because it can have a huge economic impact on Conyers,” said Emofonmwan. “When Hollywood movie makers come here, they shop in Olde Town, eat in Olde Town and sometimes even cater out our restaurants to serve them while they film. It’s a win-win for everybody.