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The film industry is booming in Georgia, and Forsyth County wants more of the action.
No, there isn't a new Hollywood sign on Sawnee Mountain, but there has been more and more TV and movie productions in the area as part of the film industry's rapid growth in Georgia. (Staff illustration)

It’s no secret that filming for television and movies has grown explosively over the last few years, and now, it seems like Forsyth County’s own film industry is growing.

Michelle Daniels serves as director of tourism at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, and part of her duties include recruiting film to Forsyth County.

“We have so much to offer productions from access to Lake Lanier at Shady Grove Campground and Mary Alice Park – and a ton of great lake-access parks – to the gorgeous farms and barns such as The Reid Barn and Silver City Farms.”

Other popular locations include other county parks, Sawnee Mountain, Vickery Village, the Cumming Fairgrounds and the Forsyth County Courthouse, which Daniels said is open for filming during off hours and described as “unheard of.”

Daniels said there are no productions currently filming in town, but said she doesn’t expect the area to go too long with someone filming.

“We have several major productions currently scouting various locations in the county, which is incredibly exciting as we have not had so much interest in our area in recent years,” she said. “I suspect the fall and winter of 2018 will experience a huge increase in filming in our community.”

Several productions have made Forsyth County their home.

From fall of last year until early spring, the Netflix series Ozark filmed in the county and since 2012, films and TV shows including Vampire Diaries, Goosebumps, Love & Hip Hop, Fast and Furious 8, Game Night, AMC’s Halt & Catch Fire and HGTV’s Bargain Hunters all filmed locally.

Perhaps the film with the most local lore is Smokey and the Bandit, a portion of which was filmed on Forsyth County’s Ga. 400 between Exits 12 and 14.

Daniels said the county has received a 367 percent growth in interest in filming after the chamber launched Film Forsyth, a push from the tourism industry letting producers know that the county is film-ready and what else the area offers.

Recently, the chamber hosted a tour to show locations around the county.

Daniels said the tour was even attended by Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman and credited partnerships in the county for making Forsyth a more popular location.

“We have film-friendly hospitality that is unmatched in the state as we have worked hard to create easy permitting approval and facilitated a process to host productions seamlessly and safely without hindering the local community,” she said. “The leaders of the City of Cumming and Forsyth County government have been amazing partners for the chamber’s Film Forsyth initiative and together we are excited to share with the film industry the amazing resources we have to offer.”

Film isn’t the only industry to benefit from more productions in Forsyth County, from private property and business owners who can lease their space for filming, constructions crews for sets, hotels, warehouse space, restaurants and rental cars.

“Hosting film productions can have a massive impact in the county,” Daniels said. “Filming is a temporary, non‐ polluting industry that offers high paying jobs and spends a good deal of money in the areas where shooting takes place.”

As director of tourism, Daniels said she is also aware the impact films can have on drawing other outsiders to the county “since many fans seek out the actual shooting locations and will spend money and time in those communities.”

“Thanks to DVD, cable television, the Internet and other distribution channels, movies and TV shows have long shelf lives after their initial release, meaning tourists could travel to our community for years to come,” she said.