Savannah has placed itself on the map as a competitive location for Hollywood filmmakers.
In 2014, the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) put together a team of stakeholders and industry professionals recommended by Hollywood producer Stratton Leopold.
One of the team's first decisions was to hire Emmy award-winning production expert Ralph Singleton to market the city of Savannah from Los Angeles, a decision which has sparked an explosion in the film industry.
There has now been more than a $200 million dollar economic impact due to Film and TV involvement in Savannah, according to SEDA and the Savannah Film Office.
“As we have started to see over the last few years as a result of our efforts, strategy can work when it is executed well by a community of people and organizations all pushing in the same direction," says Brynn Grant, chief operating officer at Savannah Economic Development Authority.
580 local crew members, 470 small businesses, and 850 area film locations have so far played a key role as resources for the booming film industry.
Ralph Singleton, Entertainment Industry Liaison for the Savannah Area Film Office, says, “You want them to hire local people, because local people use the local banks, your local schools; that’s why we’re doing this in the first place," Singleton explains.
Currently, a film under the working title “Goodbye, Stranger” is rumored to be a live action remake of the Disney’s classic “Lady and the Tramp." Downtown Savannah has been remodeled to resemble the 1900s as based off the original adaptation.
Pedestrian and vehicle traffic restrictions downtown have all been products of the film’s needs. “Goodbye, Stranger” is expected to continue shooting until December of this year.
In the past year, Disney’s MARVEL Studios shot scenes for feature film “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, bringing in approximately $3.7 million dollars of economic spending to Savannah, while "The Poison Rose" starring John Travolta and Morgan Freeman and “Gemini Man” starring Will Smith.
One aspiring actor traveled from Atlanta to Savannah to be a part of Gemini Man. “It was fun for me because I truly appreciate the art and every single aspect of filmmaking, it’s definitely just extra income. It worked for me because I worked my regular job and I worked on set,” said Harrison Russell, Will Smith’s stand-in and body double on set.
Within the next 2 years, SEDA is hoping to build a fully functioning multi-level entertainment production studio that film studios and companies from all around the world can call home.