Ready for Our Close-Up

Tucker and DeKalb County See Boost in Filming with No End in Sight

City Manager Tami Hanlin and actor Pierce BrosnanTucker can range from traffic to snakes to “what was that boom”? The myriad of topics keeps residents endlessly entertained and engaged with one another across any number of Facebook groups. 

But last month there was exactly one topic on anyone’s mind: the movies.

Netflix and Happy Madison Productions chose Tucker’s Main Street as the spot to film scenes from the upcoming Pierce Brosnan film “The Out-Laws”. With cast and crew set up on Main and filming for an entire week, it was the largest scale production Tucker has seen since it incorporated as a city. Amidst movie prop shootouts and chase scenes, locals were able to sneak a peek at some of their favorite stars and get the real Hollywood experience.

Contrary to what some may think, film production teams don’t just show up to a city and decide to start shutting down roads. They first call the DeKalb Entertainment Commission (DEC), the group charged with coordinating multimedia production throughout many of DeKalb’s cities, as well as its unincorporated areas. The DEC team has been working with film crews and the municipalities where they shoot since the body’s incorporation in 2016.

“Initially, when we started, I was in economic development,” recalls DEC Director Shelbia Jackson. “I had to do research. I reached out to the Georgia Film Office. I talked to industry professionals [and] economic development partners. I reached out to the City of Savannah, who had a film commission before us. I visited Film Los Angeles, then provided all of that research to the county commissioners and the CEO.”

Popular film locations in Tucker, Georgia include Tucker Rec and Main Street.Jackson has been with the DEC since the very beginning, helping film location scouts to find locales for television shows, small indie films, and Hollywood blockbusters like “Black Panther”. During her time, Jackson says DeKalb County has become the biggest film destination in the State of Georgia, and Georgia has become the third most popular state for filming in the United States.

“We have a number of diverse locations in the County [attractive] to the location scouts,” Jackson shared. “They know who we are now. They know we are open and welcoming and they know exactly who to call to address their needs.”

Jackson’s impressions are backed up by the data. Taking out the anomaly of the COVID year of 2020 where film production ground to an almost complete halt nationwide, a comparison of 2019 and 2021 shows how productions are booming in Tucker and throughout DeKalb County. Film revenues for the DEC are up 4.3 percent year over year, while the number of film productions has jumped 15.8 percent. The number of permit applications the DEC has received is up an even 16 percent.

Beyond the raw numbers, these productions actually have a value to the economy countywide. The Atlanta Regional Commission and DEC estimate that over the next three years more than 10,000 jobs will be created by film and television productions in DeKalb County. Further, they estimate an economic impact for the County in 2021 in the neighborhood of three-quarters of a billion dollars. And Jackson only sees this trend growing.

“I envision us growing bigger,” she explained. “I have a vision for creation of studios for our students, jobs they can jump into right away. You don’t have to be a director. You can be a screenwriter or something else behind the scenes.”

For folks in and around Tucker, it’s a fun and unique experience to be in the spotlight. And the growing film industry more than likely will be the focus of town talk in Tucker for years to come.

You can follow the DeKalb Entertainment Commission on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @dekalbentertain.

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