By Maria Guerra-Stoll – CEO and founder of PAM Studios in Rome, Georgia
I started PAM Studios, a studio and media company, in Rome to empower Latin filmmakers and other minority groups — and to help grow the film industry in our corner of Georgia.
I’m not alone in this mission. Rome has hosted dozens of productions, including the Netflix hit “Stranger Things” and films such as the Marvel Studios production “Black Widow” and Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” a film that spent more than $9.7 million at Georgia locations. The Rome International Film Festival draws cutting-edge films and hundreds of fans. And Rome is home to scores of crew members and small businesses who serve the industry.
PAM Studios is part of a significant influx of capital investment by Georgia soundstages and infrastructure businesses that have chosen to invest in Georgia because of the film industry, yet do not benefit from the film tax incentives wisely offered by our state.
That tax incentive — often referred to as the film tax credit — fuels thousands of jobs for hardworking Georgians, creating jobs that range from electricians and construction workers to caterers and truck drivers. Families and small businesses throughout the state count on the opportunities created by the tax credit.
I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible economic opportunities Georgia’s film industry has spurred since the film tax incentive was introduced in 2008. Georgia has picked a winner by prioritizing media production. Our state’s emergence as a production center is unprecedented — Georgia now ranks among the Top 3 along with Los Angeles and New York. The expansion of Georgia’s creative industries — starting with film, television and music and now expanded into virtual and post-production, animation, gaming and esports — is a significant economic success story.
The robust economic impact of the film industry has created fertile ground for small business owners. Across Georgia, it has inspired countless entrepreneurs like me to take advantage of the statewide boom.
With the right support and opportunities, PAM Studios will tell positive stories of our communities and give voice to those not often heard. I chose to build in Rome because, like so many others, I fell in love with Rome’s architecture, natural beauty, and diverse community.
Importantly, studios like mine are not just a creative resource. We also generate jobs directly and indirectly. It’s opportunity that spreads across our region. We are at the beginning of our journey, but I’ve already witnessed the halo effect in action. During the filming of “40 Akers and a Brew,” a reality TV series featuring the Grammy-nominated hip hop group Nappy Roots, the production hired local talent, rented hotel rooms, spent money at restaurants and catering, rented equipment, and spread a host of other expenditures among Rome’s businesses.
ABC/Disney spent six weeks in Rome filming a TV pilot. The production sourced set decorations and props from local shops, purchased all construction materials from our local businesses and used a fiber net provider’s office to upload daily film. That team rented an empty office complex for its production office. The architecture of the Ford Buildings at Berry College attracted the production to Rome, and while filming on campus, students served as extras and assisted with construction and set decoration.
We’re creating jobs for the next generation, too. We are increasing the talent pool by providing real-world experience for students through partnerships with Berry College and Georgia Highlands. Along with many others in our community, it’s our dream to see the people of Rome work in film both in creative aspects and on production crews. “Home grown in Rome ‘’ is our motto.
Yet anything that threatens production in our state has a negative effect on the businesses and Georgians that rely on the film and television production industry.
A stable, enticing tax credit is very important to maintaining Georgia’s global status as an entertainment production leader. With many states and countries competing for their part of the content creation sector, Georgia is in an enviable position.
Georgia’s smart policy decisions have allowed our state to eclipse previous booming entertainment centers like Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina. The film tax credit has made Georgia’s film industry a global success.