Film Activity Increases in 2012 throughout Alabama

Alabama Film OfficeFilm activity has become a hot topic in Alabama as projects lensed throughout the state increased in 2012.

The Alabama Film Office (AFO) announced a significant increase in film and television production activity in Alabama due to incentives passed in 2009. In 2012, a total of 126 production inquiries resulted in 31 projects filming in the state.

The legislature granted $10 million to rebate incentives for qualified productions in Fiscal Year 2012. That amount was increased to $15 million for 2013.  Production companies spent $33.5 million (up from $22 million in 2011).  A total of $9.5 million of the money spent was returned to the companies in rebates.

“These productions provided over 3,000 jobs last year and contributed a positive economic impact to the state,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

During the making of the movie “42″, a portion of which was filmed at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, 200 hotel rooms were rented for three weeks. “Visiting filmmakers and their crews are spending money locally” said Canfield “and Alabama-based crews are able to live and work at home.”

The documentary “Muscle Shoals” is a notable project made in and around the Shoals area. It has received global attention and rave reviews. Debuting at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, it closed to a standing ovation.

Also, “A Smile as Big as the Moon” which aired on ABC and the Hallmark Channel to more than 13 million viewers, recently won top honors at the 21st Annual Movieguide Awards Gala in Los Angeles. It was filmed at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in the fall of 2011.

Dr. Deborah Edwards Barnhart, CEO and executive director of U.S. Space and Rocket Center, said “Filming a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie and a theater box office film here this past year have brought fourteen million into the regional economy as a primary effect.  The secondary effects include hiring of local goods and services to support the film and cast, inspiring local talent to the multitude of career possibilities associated with films, and, most importantly, stimulated public interest in Space Camp and Alabama as a tourism destination.”

“Not only are the large studio productions using the film incentives in Alabama, but many in-state film makers are staying home to film their projects” said Kathy Faulk, Alabama Film Office manager. “We are also seeing a shift in graduates who in the past left our state to find work. We hope to not only keep these students here, but encourage those who’ve left to return home”.

In addition to incentives offered by the State of Alabama to film makers; Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) provides classes to train workforce to be hired by film productions. Classes offered by AIDT include set construction, techniques in camera operating, props, grip and electrical, and more. Information on EMPACT Training classes can be found at www.empactalabama.com.

“This year is gearing up to be another busy year for film productions in our state”, said Faulk, “Alabama is being recognized as a serious competitor and continues to gain momentum in this industry”.

Marco Cordova, vice president of Entertainment Partners, said that he anticipates that Alabama will have more production activity next year with the increase in the annual funding cap.

“Filmmaking in Alabama has become more of an option for larger motion picture and television projects, especially with the additional funding available for productions this year,” he said.

“It is great to see more productions shooting or planning to film in Alabama next year.  In addition to the recent increase to the film incentive funding, the state has a very diverse topography, and the film office and locals here have shown the industry great southern hospitality,” Cordova continued.

Alabama Film Projects Approved for FY 2012 Incentives

Sweet Home Alabama” – Fairhope
3rd Season, bachelor/bachelorette reality dating show.

The Phoenix Rises – Mobile
Sci-fi feature film, a group of scientists join forces to save the world from attack.

Home Front – Mobile
Sci-fi feature film (sequel) the Phoenix Team comes together again to save the USA.

Unknown Caller – Birmingham
Thriller feature film, a family is terrorized in their home.

Yellow Day – Mobile
Faith-based feature film, after being accidentally locked in a church overnight with a mysterious girl, a young man returns to the only place he believes he can find her.

LA Dirt – Fairhope
Feature film, a teen-ager wants to be a championship dirt track racer, but lacks money and support.

Saving Harmony – Muscle Shoals and Russellville
Faith-based feature film, a former country star returns home after her father’s death and discovers what really matters.

42 – Birmingham
Feature film, major motion picture about Jackie Robinson breaking the race barrier in major league baseball. Starring Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman.

Space Warriors – Huntsville
Feature film, space campers bond to help save the international space station. Starring Dermot Mulroney, Josh Lucas, Mira Sorvino, Danny Glover and Thomas Horne. Also featuring Alabama’s Grayson Russell.

Grace Unplugged – Birmingham
Faith-based feature film, a girl leaves home in hopes of becoming a pop star. A record label intern and her father help guide her back to her faith. Stars Kevin Pollak.

Oculus – Fairhope and Mobile
Thriller feature film, a murder leaves two children orphaned and convinced that the culprit was a haunted mirror. Stars Karen Gillan.

Additional Alabama Film/TV Projects during FY 2012

Type of Production                              Location

TV Reality Series
Reef Wranglers                                     Orange Beach
Biggest Loser                                       Birmingham
Bamazon                                              Alexander City
Rocket City Rednecks                            Summerville, Decatur

Documentaries
Area Food Bank                                    Montgomery
Jewish Bikers                                        Muscle Shoals

Commercials
Hyundai                                                Montgomery, Birmingham
Bright House                                         Wetumpka
Navy Seals                                           Mobile
Navistar                                                Birmingham

Student Films
Only Fear of Death                                Andalusia, Brooklyn
Stakes                                                  Birmingham

Music Event/Music Video
Gridiron                                                Birmingham
The Band Perry                                     Mobile
HangOut Music Fest                              Gulf Shores

Sporting Events
Navistar Golf                                         Prattville
High School Football                             Spanish Fort
Nascar Racing                                       Talladega
NCAA Div.2 Championship                    Florence