Gainesville’s Cliff Battle has loved working on cars his whole life.
Local residents might remember his business, Performance Works, which souped up boats, cars and recreational vehicles.
The friend was working in the movie business as a set decorator, Battle knew. He had heard that more and more movies and TV shows have been filmed in the state, largely because of a 30 percent tax incentive.
Still, Battle wasn’t expecting more than an afternoon helping out on some specific task.
He walked into a workroom at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta and was shocked to find “20 other guys in there welding and building” for the second “Hunger Games” movie.”
“I said, ‘This isn’t a project, this is a real job.’ I was on that for eight months,” Battle recalls.
He’s not alone. Film and TV productions in Georgia have an economic impact estimated at $8 billion a year, employing countless Georgians and giving local economies a boost.
Battle’s welding work caught the eye of a special effects supervisor. That led to other projects driving vehicles in elaborately choreographed scenes – like with Jake Gyllenhaal in “Prisoners” and an eight-second stunt for “Need for Speed” that took three weeks to arrange.
In addition to “precision driving,” he sometimes drives trailers for cast members or welds safety cages for stunt drivers, along with numerous other tasks.
Between cars and welding, he’s worked on movies and shows from the fourth “Alvin and the Chipmunks” to his current gig on Oprah Winfrey’s “Green Leaf” TV series.
He loves the job, which includes getting to know some famous folks, even with the long hours. And he can’t imagine what else he’d be doing now.
“It’s been huge,” Battle says. “The tax incentives are extremely important. There are so many people that are employed by this. I’ll stick with it for as long as it goes on.”
And he couldn’t be happier that he’s still working on automobiles.
“I grew up tinkering with them,” Battle says. “And now I get to blow them up, and flip them and spin them …”