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Posted: April 25, 2013 6:05 p.m.

County unveils tourism website

Phase one of Newton County’s push to turn into a filming mecca has been completed with the creation and recent unveiling of gocovington.com, the county’s new tourism website.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce unveiled the website April 11 at Triple Horse Productions, a local film studio and production company, and the focus is clear — Covington wants filming projects and it wants tourists.

Chamber President Hunter Hall said the website completes phase one of the chamber’s master strategy to promote filming.

The first two steps were trademarking the term “Hollywood of the South” and beginning the Covington Walk of Stars around the downtown square, and the new website plays off those two steps and moves the movie focus further forward.

Phase two was also unveiled recently as Triple Horse, which produced the tourism website, also recently announced plans to build five large soundstages to accommodate major filming projects — a project $38 million investment.

A timetable has not yet been given for the project.

The most powerful part of GoCovington.com is actually not for tourists, but rather for film scouts. The “On Location” widget in the center of the page is chocked full of information for scouts, including:

• Photos of popular film locations with production-specific angles

• 360 degree panoramic views of some filming locations

• Location specific information about ambient sound, parking, restrooms, electrical access, etc.

• Sun-tracking data, so producers know when to film during the “golden hours,” which are one hour before

sunrise and one hour after sunset and make for the most beautiful filming conditions

• Step-by-step guide for making location requests

• Incentives and tax credit information

• Crew listing availability.

There’s even a place for property owners who think their property would be a good filming location.

Those owners can submit their information to the chamber via the website, and, if the location is suitable, the chamber will reach out to the owner for more information.

The benefit to owners is that they can make money by renting out their property.

Brian Barnard, with Triple Horse, who headed up the website’s creation, said his company brought its film-specific knowledge to design a site that would be as useful as possible for film scouts. Triple Horse pulled the best ideas from a variety of websites, and Barnard said the photo gallery and 360-degree shots are important tools.

Officials hope they’ll lead to a lot more shoots taking place in the county.

“We’ve been working on this piece for quite a while, and we felt it was critical to establish Covington as a known film TV location, not just because of the “Dukes of Hazzard” and its history, but to build our infrastructure so to speak,” Hall said previously.

Covington and Newton County was one of the first communities in Georgia to be named a “Camera Ready Community” in 2011 and remains a popular filming location in the state, as more than 65 feature films and TV productions have chosen Covington over the years, according to the chamber.

Traditional tourism

GoCovington.com also has several features for tourists as well, but the emphasis remains on the filming side, including information about all of the movies and TV shows filmed locally and a list of film-related tours.

Two separate videos have been produced showing scenes filmed in Covington from various movies and TV shows.

The chamber also had a professional promotional video produced that shows a male vampire leading a mother and daughter on a tour of sites from “The Vampire Diaries.”

At the end of the purposefully over-the-top video, the daughter comes back from looking at a building to find her mother gone, while the vampire eventually shows off a sheepish smile with blood-covered teeth.

In addition to film attractions, the website has lots of other features, including:

• tours of historic homes and locations

• sites for local farms and agritourism, a growing industry in Georgia

• business directories for places to eat, shot, lodge and get other services

• the history of the city and county

• a large calendar of events.

“I’ve lived here for 13 years and had no ideas there was so much to do and see here,” Barnard said.

Ron Carter, who provided much of the written content for the site, encouraged even lifelong residents to check and use the site.

“Come be a visitor in your own hometown…think of it as being a tourist here and look at it through those eyes and you’ll be amazed at what we have here,” Carter said at the unveiling.

The overall plan is to attract more money and jobs to Newton County to improve the quality of life, and Hall believes tourism is the key.

“You have tourism literally driving, driving, driving (Covington and Newton County) to the world,” Hall said.

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