Henry seeks to lure TV, filmmakers

Local government leaders are working to generate revenue for the area by making the community more attractive to film and television producers.

Henry County, and the county’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, began a relationship, Monday, with FLIPSFilm, a web application tool designed to streamline the film-permitting process. The agreement creates a new tool to enable the county to capture its share of film and television production spending, which generated $1.2 billion in fiscal 2010, in the state, according to county spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst.

“With the recent boom in Georgia-filmed television and film productions, the Henry County Convention and Visitors Bureau has seen a dramatic influx of calls for location suggestions and guidance on local permitting requirements,” said Laura Luker, director of the Henry County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I believe that the partnership with FLIPSFilm will enable us to more efficiently, and effectively manage these requests, which could translate into more productions locating in Henry County. More productions mean more local goods and services used, and new tax revenue for the county, not to mention the tourism benefits from having a well-known production filmed in your community.”

In July, the Henry County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract for the FLIPSFilm company, of Alpharetta. FLIPS is an acronym for Film Location Intelligent Permitting System, and is a service of Information System Integrators. The Henry County Convention & Visitors Bureau has agreed to partner with the county in the FLIPSFilm effort, by contributing $150 annually to the service, according to a resolution passed by the commissioners.

Hoover-Ernst said in the past, film producers had to complete numerous applications for a single production. FLIPSFilms, she said, creates a “one-stop shop” for producers to apply for multiple permits within a community.

“Requests are automatically routed to all key decision-makers, from police and fire to [Department of Transportation] and Planning & Zoning, who can either approve the film production, request additional information, or deny it outright, by e-mail, without the need for staff meetings or conference calls,” the spokesperson said.

Henry County Planning & Zoning Director Cheri Hobson-Matthews was responsible for acquiring all the film production approvals from various county departments. She said a single production can bring a major boost to our economy, but county staffers are “extremely busy juggling a multitude of projects.”

“This tool will ultimately make it easier for departments to efficiently manage and fast-track permits, by providing 24/7 access to information about Henry County,” said Hobson-Matthews. “Producers will feel like they are getting priority service because they won’t have to worry about time-zone differences or reference multiple information resources to get what they need. And staff can get more done because we aren’t having to call a meeting to approve each production. As a result, Henry County will save time and money — and be in a better position to attract film and TV productions to our community.”

FLIPSFilm will provide its services to the county for $300 per year, with the first six months of the year being offered for free, said the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Dale Sizemore. He said he is proud of Henry County for choosing his company to “contribute to its long history of being innovative and responsive to the community and business.”

“We developed FLIPSFilm to solve the problems we heard from the film/TV and local communities,” said Sizemore. “Producers have told us they will prioritize communities who make it easy to work with them. It provides unique permitting tools and other streamlining capabilities not offered by local or state resources. We get the information into the hands of the producers when they need it, so they can make fast, accurate decisions.”

For more information, visit http://www.flipsfilm.com.