Reviewing 2017 and Looking Ahead to 2018
I am happy to report that 2017 has been a banner year in the Local 479 jurisdiction! The number of projects produced in both Georgia and Alabama has increased 15% from 2016 to 2017, and all of the stars seem aligned for an equal or greater increase as we move into 2018.
Atlanta, in particular, is home to over 60 purpose-built stages spread throughout the metro area among 8 studio lots, with another studio still under construction boasting an additional 9 stages. This growth is expected to bring new production to our jurisdiction, providing even more work opportunities as production companies increase their desire to hire locally.
I am proud to report that at any given time throughout 2017, an average of 80-90% of our Local 479 members were found to be working. This number is based on a couple of factors: our Availability List was continually being requested by productions and seemed inefficient in providing the amount of labor requested, and I received more requests than ever before from people living outside the jurisdiction asking permission to work in town, as productions needed the extra manpower.
In July Governor Nathan Deal announced that our industry had an economic impact of $9.5 billion during the 2017 fiscal year.
This accomplishment is due in large part to the continued support of Georgia’s Entertainment Industry Investment Act (commonly known as the film tax credit) by our current legislation at the State Capitol.
Local 479 has been active in the political arena in Georgia, and we continue to enjoy our great working relationship with our state government. In March, we participated in Film Day at the Capitol, where in addition to being recognized in a resolution read on the floor of the House of Representatives, we also took the opportunity to provide a “thank you lunch” to our Representatives and Senators at the Capitol for all the support they give our industry. The establishment of our Local 479 PAC Fund this year is just another avenue we hope to use to continue our involvement and help maintain the tax incentive that has brought so much work to our state.
Our highest priority here at Local 479 is to make sure that our industry continues to thrive and the volume of work increases to provide more jobs to Georgia residents.
Throughout 2017, our local has undergone many changes and experienced growth as well. The increase in our membership resulted in the addition of two staff members to our Member Services department, and the increase in number of projects in town required the hiring of an additional employee to our auditing department. The enlargement of these departments will increase the local’s ability to provide a high level of service to our rapidly growing membership.
Local 479’s membership increased approximately 12% in 2017 and looks to increase again in 2018. Not only do our members find themselves constantly working, thanks to the previously mentioned industry growth in Georgia, they also take advantage of the many incentives Local 479 offers – such as the short term/long term disability insurance coverage, as well as our many member events like our annual Health Fair, financial assistance classes, and Family Fun days such as the Six Flags event that took place in October. We are constantly looking for new and better ways to show our members how much they matter.
The Local’s largest accomplishment of 2017 was the expansion in size and expectation of our Education Department.
Due once again to the growth of our membership and volume of work, we are working harder than ever to provide safety training (which is always our #1 priority) and craft training. Our additional 6,400 square foot Education Center allows us to have both a construction training mill as well as a secondary workshop for hands-on training of other crafts like Grip, Electric, and Costuming. Two additional classrooms – Classrooms A and B – were built to provide spaces for presentations as well as collaborative learning, and allow for craft training courses for Sound, Set Design, and Medic, just to name a few.
Our Education Department works very closely with the IA’s Training Trust Fund to provide industry-approved safety courses, and we are pleased to have our more experienced and skilled members instruct many of our craft training classes. Doing so provides our newer members opportunities to network with these more experienced members, it provides our department-head instructors the chance to train their new recruits, and it keeps our craft-training curriculum relevant to the skills and demands of today’s sets. We also enjoy collaborating with local vendors to provide training on equipment our members actually use on set.
In 2018, our Education Department will strive to increase the number of classes offered by holding not only weekend classes, but classes throughout the week as well.
Based on the groundwork laid in 2017, I feel confident that 2018 will bring us another 10-15% growth in the number of projects in our jurisdiction, resulting in hundreds of additional jobs, which productions will choose to fill with local hires. Our members are hiring our members first, and productions are actively seeking local residents for hire before reaching outside of our jurisdiction.
The film industry in Georgia has been a focal point in our economy, bringing a huge amount of publicity to our state and effectively putting Georgia on the entertainment “map”. We believe that all of the candidates in our upcoming Governor’s election will continue to support our fast growing industry. For all these reasons, I expect 2018 to be another record-setting year for our industry, our state, and most of all, our members.
Mike Akins, Business Agent IATSE Local 479