Buckhead’s Booming Film Industry


If your Buckhead neighborhood has felt like a mini-Hollywood as of late, it’s no coincidence. Buckhead’s burgeoning film and television scene has attracted a number of celebrities to the area, from Oprah Winfrey and Jon Hamm to Ryan Gosling. The various productions have brought big business to the area, too. The film and TV industry generated an economic impact north of $7 billion for Georgia in 2015 alone, according to Governor Nathan Deal. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said last week that Georgia is the No. 3 location in the United States for movie and TV production, and this year we will beat out New York for the No. 2 spot.

“The tax credits for productions did something really incredible from an economic standpoint for Atlanta,” says Ryan Millsap, Buckhead resident and executive chairman of the board for Blackhall Studios, a new film studio in the city. “They’ve fueled an entire new industry.” And there are fringe benefits, too. Millsap says the myriad productions have cultivated a new, creative class in Atlanta. “A large and diverse creative class has always been what’s separated major international cities like London or New York from the rest,” he says. “The film industry has added such depth to Atlanta’s culture—and we’re just in the early stages of this.”  Millsap has made big bets on the future of the movie industry in Georgia, he opened his $70 million studio just last month and has already booked multiple major productions with $200 million+ production budgets for 2017.

The economic benefits are extending to residents throughout Buckhead. Movie Stars often rent homes for $10,000-$50,000 per month for several months on end while working here. Tom Cruise rented a home in the Kingswood Neighborhood for $50,000 a month while working on Mena. Amy Adams paid $18,000 a month to rent a home in Tuxedo Park in 2014 while filming Trouble With The Curve. Many productions rent private homes to serve as sets and pay $10,000 – $75,000 a month depending on the scale of a home. Television shows often return year after year to the same residence as the home becomes part of the story line.

Here’s a look at just some of the Buckhead residences and landmarks to have appeared on the silver screen:

The Swan House

This cultural landmark was one of several Georgia locations to make an appearance in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The Classical mansion designed by architect Phillip Trammell Shutze served as the home of President Snow in the popular film starring Jennifer Lawrence. Owned by The Atlanta History Center, you can go tour it today!

Paces Ferry Road Residence

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Lorri Leonaitis was on her way out of the house when a film producer knocked on her door a few years ago. “He told me a location scout had told him about my home—so I let a stranger into my house and left, which was kind of crazy,” she says with a laugh. But things ended up working out. Her Paces Ferry Road home landed in the USA Network series Satisfaction, which premiered in 2014. “They loved all our furniture and our art, so we didn’t have to change much, which is typically different than a movie production, where they build out a set,” she says. Leonaitis’ house serves as the home of a character named Adriana in the show, who heads up an escort service.

West Conway Road Residence
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Courtesy of Carter Phillips – Film Location Portfolio

At first glance, the sprawling English Country estate of Rodney Cook seems like a picture-perfect location for a film or television production. And TBS agrees. The property, which was originally owned by Hardy Pace, one of Atlanta’s early settlers, appears on the TBS comedy The Detour, a comedy created by Jason Jones and Samantha Bee about the adventures of a family road trip. “It was a really great experience having them film here,” Cook says. “I tried to stay out of their way for the most part, but my grandkids had a lot of fun with them there.” (Photos courtesy of Carter Phillips – Film Location Portfolio)

Chastain Park Residence
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When it comes to productions, it’s a neighborhood affair for Chastain Park resident Cynthia Good. Her charming Buckhead cottage has appeared in everything from a Kroger commercial to Fox’s 24 reboot, 24: Legacy. “My husband and I both work in media, so we have loved having productions take place in our home,” Good says. Most recently, her home appeared in 24: Legacy as the location of a politician’s party—Good and her husband even got to appear on screen as extras. “Everyone was dressed up and holding fake champagne!” Her neighbors next door also own a mansion that appeared in the 2014 film Endless Love.

Hollydale Court Residence

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Owned by Dr. John Munna, a retired plastic surgeon who now works for the CDC, this mid-century Modern home stars in the forthcoming Netflix drama Come Sunday. The film stars Martin Sheen and Chiwetel Ejiofor and depicts the story of an evangelist who preaches that there is no Hell. Filming just wrapped a week ago, so expect to see this Chastain Park home on screens soon. (Photos courtesy of Carter Phillips – Film Location Portfolio)

Has the movie industry been good or bad for Buckhead? Let your opinion be heard below!

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