The region features enticing incentives and a rich variety of backdrops for your next project

From sweeping romantic dramas to a zombie apocalypse, the South had provided settings for thousands of Hollywood stories for over a century. The states in this region offer a variety of tax rebates, many soft incentives and a wealth of local, unionized talent that will ensure an unforgettable final project. 

Alabama

The presence of Talladega Superspeedway, the white sand beaches near Mobile and the beautiful ocean views of Dauphin Island have lured filmmakers to this state since Universal used the famous Old Monroeville County Courthouse for To Kill a Mockingbird. Recent projects have included Antonio Campos’ Devil All the Time, Ava DuVernay’s Selma and the Stephen King thriller Gerald’s Game. With a comprehensive production directory and location catalogue, the Alabama Film Office is an excellent resources and has advocated for even more attractive incentives to appeal to producers.

Learn more at the Alabama Film Office.

Incentive Type: Non-Transferable Refundable Tax Credit

Incentive Amount: 35% (residents), 25% (nonresidents)

Minimum Spend: $500,000

Bonus: N/A

Audit Requirements: CPA audit required

Application: Application and $100 application fee must be received no later than 30 days before production starts

Sales Use Tax Relief: Yes

Hotel Occupancy Tax Relief: Yes

Sunset Date: None

Arkansas

Home to the acclaimed Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, rolling Ozark hills and striking cityscapes, the Natural State has attracted high-profile projects such as the Matthew McConaughey drama Mud and the third season of True Detective. The state offers a healthy pool of local talent thanks to growing programs at John Brown University, SAU Tech and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and relatively underutilized outdoor locations will make it easy to distinguish your next project.

Learn more from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Incentive Type: Credit/Rebate Combo

Incentive Amount: 20% (30% for below the line residents)

Minimum Spend: $200,000

Bonus: 10% for expenditures purchased from a local small business vendor owned by honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces

Application: Application and/or registration must be submitted to the Arkansas Film Office prior to incurring any instate production or post-production costs

Sales Use Tax Relief: No

Hotel Occupancy Tax Relief: No

Sunset Date: July 2026

Florida

Before American studios began to cluster in Southern California for the open space and temperate climate, Jacksonville, Florida was the industry’s first hub for similar reasons. Metro Pictures (which later became the iconic MGM) was established here, and history came full circle when expansive production space opened in Orlando for Disney’s MGM Studios. Florida remains a major filmmaking destination thanks to its diverse selection of outdoor environments (from everglades to lush islands), large population of seasonal workers and warm climate. From the flashy skyscrapers of Miami to the white sand beaches of the panhandle, Florida offers striking backdrops for your story. 

Learn more at the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment.

While there is currently no statewide tax incentives, major metro areas like Duval County (Jacksonville), Hillsborough County (Tampa) and Miami-Dade County offer a variety of grants and rebates for film and TV productions.

Georgia

Thanks to the presence of Turner Entertainment, Tyler Perry Studios and Screen Gems, Georgia hosts the most TV and film productions outside of California and New York. A generous tax incentive introduced in 2002 has ushered in two decades of growth that has welcomed major studio players like Disney, Netflix and AMC. Thanks to a variety of urban and rural environments, a mild climate and close proximity to the ocean, Georgia can portray everything from Missouri in Ozark to Wakanda in Black Panther.

Learn more at the Georgia Department of Economic Development

Incentive Type: Transferable Non-Refundable Tax Credit

Incentive Amount: 20-30%

Minimum Spend: $500,000

Bonus: 10% for additional Georgia Entertainment Promotion for embedded Georgia logo and link to Georgia Film Office on promotional website

Audit Requirements: Audit is required

Application: Applications must be submitted no more than 90 days prior to principal photography

Sales Use Tax Relief: Yes

Hotel Occupancy Tax Relief: Yes

Sunset Date: None

Louisiana 

While evocative bayou settings globally unique New Orleans streets drew productions since the advent of the industry, filmmaking exploded in Louisiana when the state passed extremely attractive tax incentives in 2002. Since them, the state’s skilled crew base has grown by over 400%, with production exceeding California’s in certain years. With a temperate climate and a mix of swamps, cities and waterfronts, the state has stood in for the Antebellum South, the Wild West, New York City and London. Recent projects have included Greyhound, The Photograph and Unhinged (all released in 2020). The state also has a booming tech sector and growing roster of VFX houses to provide CGI effects.

Learn more at Louisiana Economic Development.

Incentive Type: Non-Transferable, Partially

Incentive Amount: 40-45% (residents), 25-30% (nonresidents)

Minimum Spend: $300,000

Bonus: If at least 50% of the VFX budget is expended for services performed in Louisiana by an approved Qualified Entertainment Company (QEC), or a minimum of $1 million in qualified VFX expenditures are made in Louisiana, an additional 5% credit may be allowed on the qualified VFX spend only.

Audit Requirements: The state will assign a CPA to prepare production expenditure verification

Sales Use Tax Relief: For applications for initial certification the fee for filing an application shall be equal to 0.5% of the amount of the incentives or exempted taxes, with a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $15,000.

Hotel Occupancy Tax Relief: No

Sunset Date: No

Kentucky

From the famous Fort Knox setpiece in Goldfinger to the horseracing sequences in Secretariat, Kentucky has welcomed film and television productions for decades. The Kentucky Entertainment Incentive (KEI) program has successfully expanded the state’s media footprint with recent film’s such as Tammy and Above Suspicion, and the state also offers hotel occupancy tax relief.

Learn more at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Incentive Type: Non-Transferable Refundable Tax Credit

Incentive Amount: 35% (residents), 25% (nonresidents)

Minimum Spend: $500,000

Bonus: N/A

Audit Requirements: CPA audit required

Application: Application and $100 application fee must be received no later than 30 days before production starts

Sales Use Tax Relief: Yes

Hotel Occupancy Tax Relief: Yes

Sunset Date: None

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