BRACK: Wind Gap, Mo., says a lot about the growing film industry in Georgia

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  Ever heard of the town of Wind Gap, Missouri?

Recently you might have thought you woke up in the wrong town if you lived in Barnesville, Ga. You see, there was a film crew all over that town shooting an upcoming HBO mini-series about Gillian Flynn’s book, Sharp Objects, which is set in this fictional town of Wind Gap, Mo.

And because of Georgia’s enticing ways that we treat filming companies, offering first rate tax credits for film production, since they had to shoot a movie somewhere, why not do it where the movie people can generate hefty earnings?

Recently Governor Nathan Deal released new figures showing that Georgia is the number one filming location in the world.  That industry generates $9.5 billion of economic impact in Georgia, including $2.7 million in direct spending. In the last year, 320 film and television productions have been filmed in Georgia.

It’s all because of the state offering production incentives that provide up to 30 percent of the Georgia production expenditures in transferable tax credits. That program, which begun in 2005, is now paying big benefits for the state in real dollars. After all, it has turned the film and TV production field on its heels!

Photo credit: Barnesville News-Gazette

And it’s happening in communities throughout Georgia. What once was an exotic but foreign business, is happening even right here in Gwinnett,. There’s major filming at Eagle Rock’s permanent studios, and many use the OFS site for professional filming. Lawrenceville was a few weeks ago turned into a town in Arkansas, for the filming of the series, Ozark. And Norcross is part of the filming location for the Netflix series, Greenleaf, even though it’s supposedly set in Memphis.

And just yesterday, it was announced that a new Clint Eastwood movie, The 15:17 to Paris, would be filmed at Robins Air Force Base and in Atlanta.

Changes came all around Barnesville to makeover the town in the last few weeks. Overnight up sprung the Wind Gap Barber Shop, lighting poles had banners saying “Welcome to historic Wind Gap,” a real estate office was called Wind Gap Realty, and painted on a window was Wind Gap Police. There’s a Wind Gap Historical Marker, (put up “in 1891 by the State of Missouri”), a Wind Gap Eye Clinic, a Wind Gap Public Library,” and one restaurant offering “Missouri’s Best Barbecue (Eat-in or take-out).”

Add to it a Wind Gap Art Gallery, a Southern Railway caboose with “Welcome to Wind Gap” on it, and a faded sign you can barely see the word “Wind Gap.” There’s even a Wind Gap Gazette newspaper, though the Barnesville Herald Gazette still comes out on time. The local Confederate monument and statue was modified to honor Wind Gap “founder” Zeke Calhoun. A faded poster advertises the Wind Gap Bow Hunters. All this in Barnesville. (See slideshow: http://www.barnesville.com/archives/10193-Welcome-to-Wind-Gap….html).

The author herself, Gillian Flynn, was quoted in the Barnesville newspaper saying that the town was “an ideal location to bring her story’s setting to life. The town is the perfect location for Wind Gap. It’s lush and green just like my home state of Missouri, and it’s almost as if the town was picked out of my own mind as I was writing the novel. (HBO) couldn’t have picked a better location for this story to come to life.”

Recently crews have been filming in Barnesville from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the downtown area.

While Barnesville has been surrounded by the filming, it can appear anywhere in Georgia. While it may cause some of us a temporary delay in traffic, etc., remember the overall impact to the state’s economy, and be patient. There are dollars and jobs for many in the future in the film industry in Georgia.