Greg Fischer grew up in Atlanta, but when he and his wife fell in love with rehabbing old houses, a friend suggested they move to where the action is — Macon.
Now, 20 years later they've raised two teenagers in their beloved historical home. But life took an unexpected turn along the way for Greg, who used to earn his living as a real estate appraiser. The mortgage crisis of 2008 left him without work.
"I was sitting on a buddy's porch in Macon watching '42' — the film about Jackie Robinson — being filmed,” says Greg. “I thought: How can I break into this industry with the skills I already have?"
Nine months later he had a Film Technician's Certificate earned at night school.
"I learned the jargon and the technical terms and became a production assistant," he says. "I did a lot of background work to get on set to make sure this was something I wanted to do."
It was … and it turns out his previous skills did help him break into the industry as a location manager.
"As a real estate appraiser, you measure and take photos. You're trained to notice details. The location guy kind of does the same thing," he says.
Greg has learned that Macon is a great place to live and a great place to make films, and changes underway will help the middle Georgia city cope with the influx of talent and crew that arrive with each production.
For example, a boutique hotel is under construction, which will help, he says. Until it's finished he's been resourceful at finding local homeowners willing to vacate and rent their homes to the stars and crew members.
Lodging is not the only way that studio money flows into a local community. There are taxes, permits, police, food, waste disposal and more, he says.
When choosing film locations, "I try to focus on small towns around the state,” says Greg. “The money has a greater impact in smaller communities."
Greg sings the praises of local education programs that help others succeed in film like he has.
"I would like to see more Georgians involved in it,” Greg says. “There are high school programs, film classes, and community college curriculums. Once you do a good job, your name gets passed around."
He believes the film industry has been good for Georgia.
"It has helped revitalize and energize Macon. And it makes sense for the state. The infrastructure is already in place."