Conyers in Rockdale County was hit hard when the economy crashed at the start of the 2008-09 Great Recession. The town was suddenly left with a surplus of industrial warehouse space – almost 1 million square feet.
Then “The Fast and the Furious” called, and nothing has been the same since the Vin Diesel franchise put all that industrial space to good use by filming a blockbuster installment.
Today, Conyers has more than 600 full-time jobs in the TV and movie production industry, with the series “Legacy,” “The Doom Patrol” and “The Resident” being made there, says Gina Hartsell, Film Office and Senior Projects Manager for the Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council. All have been on the air for multiple seasons.
Previously, parts of episodes of “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “In the Heat of the Night” had been filmed in Conyers. But the town wanted to become the permanent home to a series, hoping that would set off the next chapter, Gina said.
It lured Covington-based “The Vampire Diaries” producers in 2012 for their spinoff series “The Originals,” which also lasted for years.
“That was a huge thing,” she said, noting that the show revamped downtown to resemble New Orleans, while also leading to more productions.
“We’ve had a lot of positive things continue to build on what we’ve done,” Gina says. “We just keep getting productions. We’re excited to track the economic impact to show that it continues to be something that grows.”
The power of such economic development is this: Untold dollars from California spent being spent here in Georgia, with studios committing to years-long leases of industrial space, workers spending money locally and crew members even settling there.
Next up? Five upcoming productions are scouting locations in the area.“This industry is important to our community,” Gina says.