“A Coat of Many Colors” has transformed several downtown Covington businesses, taken over Gaither Plantation and brought some detours to the Covington Square; “The Vampire Diaries” has brought new notoriety to Covington; and the Covington tradition that is The Fuzz Run is utilizing the popularity of Newton County’s filming industry by offering a meet and greet with Ian Somerhalder.
This is just a small impact that Newton residents can directly see from the area’s filming industry.
Another impact, the one that matters, is the financial benefit movies such as “A Coat of Many Colors” (to be seen in December, about Dolly Parton’s childhood) “Selma," “My Cousin Vinny” and more, along with TV shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “In the Heat of the Night” bring to Newton County. The use of Gaither Plantation for "A Coat of Many Colors," is earning Newton County $30,000, and “The Vampire Diaries” recently donated $1,500 to the Garden of Gethsemane homeless shelter at the behest of Sam Ramsey, who was going to get that money for the use of his store, Ramsey Furniture. Those are just two examples of the money required to use Newton locations for filming.
The film industry also pays local industries for catering, equipment rentals and more.
Then there are the jobs. One scene requires dozens of stage hands, technicians, artists and extras.
And those are just the benefits in Newton County. Stretch that state wide and the dozens of productions being filmed in Newton County, multiplies exponentially. During the 2014 fiscal year, 158 feature film and TV productions called Georgia home, generating 77,900 jobs and $3.8 billion in total wages generated.
That’s a lot of opportunity, opportunity that Newton County needs to take advantage of.
Tuesday, the county took a step toward just that. The Board of Commissioners recognized Georgia Piedmont College for introducing a new three-tract film and television production program this fall. The local college will begin offering a Film and Movie Production Assistant Course, September 14 through November 7, at the Newton Campus, located at 81000 Bobby Williams Parkway. This is just one way the college is looking to help in continuing education and workforce development.
The second tract of Georgia Piedmont College’s approach will be offered in the spring, leading toward an Associate Degree in Film and Television Production. The third tract is slated to begin next year, bringing a high school initiative allowing students to get college credit.
This is a big benefit for Newton County.
It’s evident to us that the film industry will continue to come to Georgia and Newton County. Our citizens should be part of the workforce available for this unique revenue stream.
It shouldn’t just be enough for cast and crew to come and spend money in our town. We should also be able to grab some of those dollars ourselves. Sure the tax dollars have been great, but let’s use the filming to drop Newton’s unemployment number as well.
Newton has seen an improvement in industry thanks to filming, Baxalta and other businesses, but the workforce is still trying to catchup. We need more people capable of filling bio science jobs; we need more people capable of working a film set; we need more people capable of working in hospitality.
This is the first step for utilizing one of Newton County’s newest resources.
We urge people interested in filming, in need of a new career or looking for a change to look into capitalizing on this new program. We also hope that this will be the first of many educational paths for Newton residents of all ages to get the local jobs that are going to residents outside our area.