Ana Kvaratskhelia, Director of Enterprise Georgia shared with us some details of Hollywood location scouts’ tour in Georgia.
Q: Which regions of Georgia captured the attention of Hollywood location scouts most?
First of all let me say few words about the “Film in Georgia” program itself and our big success of bringing the Hollywood location scouts to Georgia for the very first time.
As you might be aware “Film in Georgia” is a newly launched film industry incentive scheme that aims to promote Georgia as the Eastern European Filming Destination by offering local and international producers up to 25% rebate on qualified expenses incurred in Georgia.
Enterprise Georgia runs this cash rebate system in cooperation with the Georgian National Film Centre. My agency’s key objective is to further promote film friendly Georgia on an international scale and put in place effective mechanisms that will encourage easy entrance of international producers. For the maximum comfort of the producers our agency ensures provision various services based on “One Stop Shop” principle that covers initial location scouting assistance in procurement of permits from government institutions, coordination with various stakeholders. It is also worth mentioning that state owned properties are free to shot, which is another financial benefit that filmmakers can get in Georgia.
We do believe that “Film in Georgia” coupled with the country’s geographic and architectural diversity, business-friendly environment and lowest level of bureaucracy ensures pleasant and productive filmmaking process.
One week visit of Hollywood location scouts and producers was a direct result of our participation at LA location show, where Enterprise Georgia presented our country as a filming destination and assisted Georgian production companies in networking and introducing their capacity. At this location show we held meetings with Hollywood’s major players – Disney, Paramount Pictures, NBC universal, Universal pictures, Warner Brothers, HBO and Fox. As well as, independent filmmakers and talent agencies.
The famous location managers of Hollywood movies , such as : „Transformers”, “Captain America”, “The Town”, “The Hangover”, „Sicario”, “Mission Impossible” spent one week wondering around Georgia and scouting through Tbilisi, Rustavi, Mtskheta, Kazbegi, Uplistsikhe, Tskhaltubo, Zugdidi, Mestia, Anaklia, as well as Batumi! So you can imagine how surprised they were when in such a short period we managed to show mountains, desert, seaside, national parks and fusion of architectural styles in different cities.
When it comes to emotions our guests were truly impressed by Georgia’s resemblance to different places in the world. For instance I heard them comparing Tbilisi, Batumi and Sighnagi to European and Asian style cities. Batumi even helped location scouts discover small Cuba for themselves. Of course Kazbegi, the treasure of Georgia made a huge impression, the middle age villages in Svaneti surrounded with these huge mountains left them speechless and I could observe new film ideas coming to their minds and mysterious smile on the face.
The nature as well as large scale semi derelict and derelict industrial sites, like Rustavi Metallurgy plant and Locomotives Manufacturer in Tbilisi deserved a great deal of interest.
Since Hollywood location scouts were looking for some virgin locations, unique sites, they did discover much more than expected. I am happy to say that producers ensured us that Georgia has a huge potential for attracting different types of productions.
Q: When are they supposed to start shooting movies in Georgia?
Since this was a very initial visit to Georgia, it’s a bit too early to speak about the exact dates of shootings. Enterprise Georgia’s and National Film Centre’s main goal was to show the country’s potential and introduce these people to the local production companies. Based on the feedback we got from the location scouts we believe they will spread the word to the rest of the Hollywood pretty soon. By this time the three international producers who are already benefiting from “Film in Georgia” program will finalize work and these movies will turn into the success cases that Hollywood producers could refer to.
Q: What is the financial scale of the projects location scouts work on?
The scale and the budgets of the companies we brought to Georgia are huge for our country. This FAM tour to Georgia included location managers from major film studios like Disney, Paramount and etc. These location scouts work on movies with the budgets exceeding 20 mln USD, however in the frames of the tour we also invited independent filmmakers who work on the films with the budget below $20 mln USD.
Q: Do Hollywood location scouts plan to cooperate with the local production companies in Georgia?
As I already mentioned Enterprise Georgia ensured that the visiting location scouts spent enough time networking with the representatives of local production companies to get all needed information on the local industry and see future cooperation opportunities. In fact one of the milestones that we need to undergo to bring Hollywood production to Georgia is to have quality local production service provider companies.
It’s a common practice for Hollywood to hire production companies based in the country they are shooting a film, therefore the crew, prices and high professionalism plays a huge role.
Last but not least I would like to share the information we are so proud of. In 5 months since the launch we can already boast to have 4 big international projects in our portfolio as it was mentioned above, the outlook is truly optimistic with several production houses showing interest to film in Georgia. We have already promoted the new program in Los Angeles, USA and in Mumbai, India and will continue extensive marketing to put our country on the map for international producers.
Film in Georgia, the program which already brings good results was jointly designed by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection of Georgia. Program is implemented by Enterprise Georgia in cooperation with Georgian National Film Center.