Alabama: A Gem in the Film Industry

Alabama: A Gem in the Film Industry

Biodiversity, football and barbeque are a few things that Alabama is known for but what about films? 

Alabama has an amazing filming appeal that makes it a hidden gem in the film industry. 

 “Alabama becomes a blank canvas. The director, art director and cinematographer make the decision about whether they can paint a picture on this blank canvas,” said Buddy Palmer, CEO and President of Create Birmingham, 

“You have a multitude of different looks within a twenty-to-thirty-mile radius,” Palmer added whether it’s an urban, rural or beachy look, Alabama has it all.” 

Buddy Palmer

When production companies decide to film in Alabama, they can get a 35 percent rebate on the money they spent hiring local film crews and talent. The majority of Alabama’s crew are based in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, it makes sense to base production out of one of those areas. 

“There are a lot of locations around downtown Birmingham that you can make look like a lot of different things,” said Preston Little, owner of First Avenue Productions. Crestwood has homes with a lot of character which are good for colors. Downtown contains historic buildings and bars that can be shaped to tell a different story. 

“You have the hills and farms all over Birmingham along with storage buildings that are super cheap as opposed to Los Angeles.,” Little expressed. When filmmakers consider cities like Los Angeles and New York, the cost of production will be higher due to the film presence there. 

Jay Galloway, freelance camera contractor agreed, “When feature films choose to film here, they are saving money by being able to shoot on various locations unlike in Hollywood where they would have to rent out a blue or green screen to achieve the same location imagery.”

Kevin Johnson, co-owner of Cedar Creative spoke on how community in the film industry sets Birmingham apart. “The more production heavy a city gets, the more hoops there are to jump through. Birmingham is still a place where people can still be a good neighbor and connect with people relationally. It’s not just about the money but a genuine partnership,” Johnson expressed.

“Birmingham is great, it has everything without being Nashville or Atlanta,” Johnson said. Palmer agreed, production crews don’t have to deal with the horrible traffic of major busy cities when trying to transport their actors from one destination to the next. It helps to save money since most actors are paid by the hour. 

Jordan Peele’s Get Out was shot in Alabama for $4.5 million and grossed over $250 million in the box office. The ratio of profit would’ve been lower had the movie been shot in a place like Los Angeles or Atlanta. 

Alabama’s production appeal lies in the variety and authenticity of geographical locations, talented film crews and the food industry. With the growing food industry, it causes nightlife to be engaging for directors, producers or cinematographers filming here. “The Birmingham region is very surprising to outside people coming in,” said Palmer.

If the state’s major cities were to become production heavy, it would ruin the quality of life and character. 

“I want us to be known for great stories and storytelling on a smaller budget to keep a great quality of life and employ more people in the city,” Palmer ended.