Film industry growing in Liberty County

LIBERTY CO., GA (WTOC) - You may notice more local scenery in movies and TV shows lately, especially from Liberty County.

The Liberty County Chamber says they saw an increase in tourism last year, particularly in video production shoots that brought more than $100 million to the local economy. That includes a $20 million jump in the past six years.

Chamber leaders tell WTOC those production crews bring business to local hotels, restaurants and stores.

"It's what's called clean economic development. People film, then leave. They don't pack your schools. They don't overly use your roads. Things like that. They tend to go away after they're done, which is exciting for us," said Leah Poole, with the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.

This community offers the camera a little of everything, from historic buildings, a quaint downtown and a breathtaking coast. Local leaders want to see the interest grow but grow in the right ways.

If you see Ben Affleck's latest film "Live by Night" and you'll see glimpses of Liberty County. On the small screen, shows like "Fireball Run" have come here for scenery, history and more.

It helps put Liberty County on the map. It brings, I'm guessing, jobs to the area and increases tourism. So I think it's a good thing," said Chamber of Commerce Chairman Roger Hutchinson.

Chamber leaders asked local governments to adopt a permit process crews plan with the community for what they're doing. Poole remembers a shoot a few years ago.

"The production caught somebody on fire - on purpose - he was in stunt gear and everything. But as you can imagine that caused a stir," said Poole.

Two years ago, a crew member died on a film shoot in nearby Wayne County when a train surprised them on top of the trestle.

County leaders tell me the permits aren't about taxes or hassles, just planning for what could happen.

"While the movie industry is growing, we have to grow with it. This is a progressive move to get us where we need to be," said County Commission Chairman Donald Lovett.

The chamber asked not only the City of Hinesville and Liberty County to adopt the permit process, but the other municipalities as well. We'll let you know how that goes.

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