What started in front of the camera for Chris Birdsong has ignited a successful career behind the camera years later. Well, if being dragged to sets by your mother to be an extra counts, then that’s exactly what Chris did.
As a kid, Chris’ mother would take him and his siblings to sets for Georgia productions such as “In the Heat of the Night” and “RoboCop 3” to be involved as extras and experience the local entertainment industry.
And that was just the beginning.
After high school, Chris enrolled in what was then a new program at Chattahoochee Technical College, graduating alongside the second-ever class to complete the program. It looked like he was going to have to make the jump across the country to L.A. if he wanted to pursue his dreams.
“For the longest time I thought I’d be doing commercials or music videos here in Georgia and I would have to go to L.A. if I wanted to work on bigger productions,” Chris said. “I was raised here and I love this state. I wanted to stay.”
Chris interned on Alton Brown’s “Good Eats,” as a production assistant, but once the tax incentive kicked in things really started ramping up. Chris was to take it to the next level.
In 2007 Chris joined I.A.T.S.E Local 479 and worked a variety of jobs from key grip on the show “Somebodies” to best boy on “Vampire Diaries.” And it’s only gotten better from there. Chris has since been the key grip for major productions such as “Halloween II,” “Hidden Figures,” “Selma,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “What Men Want.”
“I thought I would be on the road all the time so having a family wasn’t really in the plans,” says Chris. “But the incentive brought so much work to Georgia that my wife and I have been able to buy a home and start a family so close to where we were raised. That means a lot.”
Today, Chris stays busy raising his two boys, ages three and seven, and working as a key grip. His successes have even allowed him to start his own company, Atlanta Grip and Expendables, renting the same kind of equipment he uses to others like him.
“Not only has the tax incentive allowed me to have my own business, it’s allowed me to use my connections to get other people work,” says Chris.