Alabama film industry set for
blockbuster year after record 2019
19, 2020 - Words by Jerry Underwood
cameras are rolling on a golden
period for film activity in Alabama,
which is generating a record level
of production expenditures while
creating jobs and elevating the
state’s profile in the industry.
Film Office reported the 20
approved film and TV productions
that qualified for state incentives
in 2019 spent nearly $72 million
while in Alabama, up from $63.5
million during the previous year.
addition, rebates approved to offset
production costs totaled just under
the ceiling of $20 million last
year, eclipsing the previous record
of $19 million set in 2018.
Faulk at the Alabama Film Office
said 2020 is shaping up to be a
blockbuster year as well.
Jordan, right, and Jamie Foxx star
in 'Just Mercy,' which was mostly
filmed in the Montgomery area. The
movie debuted in January 2020.
(Image: Warner Bros.)
Marriage: Huntsville,' a reality TV
show featuring six friends from the
Alabama city, airs on Oprah
Winfrey’s OWN Network. (Image: OWN)
Oct. 1, the beginning of the fiscal
year, more than a dozen
entertainment productions have
already qualified for tax rebates to
film in Alabama, Faulk said.
expects incentives to once again
reach the $20 million cap,
indicating a high level of
expenditures in the state.
increasing popularity of streaming
services such as Netflix, Amazon
Studios, Disney+, HBO Max, CBS
Access and Apple TV+, there is a
growing demand for original filmed
content,” Faulk said.
Alabama Film Office projects that
the escalating level of production
spending in the state has created
thousands of jobs over the past few
for example, expenditures by
qualified productions in Alabama
totaled $33.5 million, less than
half today’s level.
productions have a huge economic
impact when they come to a
community. Many local
behind-the-scenes crew such as
carpenters, electricians, painters,
technicians, make-up artists and
extras are hired. Creating jobs is
what this is all about,” Faulk said.
production will use local businesses
such as catering services and
equipment rentals. They also rent
office space, homes, buildings,
public and private property, etc.
for locations. Cast and crew also
fill up area hotels and neighborhood
restaurants,” she added.
movies are now being filmed in
Alabama, and another is on the way.
being shot in Mobile, stars Harvey
Keitel as the notorious mobster
Meyer Lansky and features Australian
actor Sam Worthington, who appeared
in “Avatar.” In Birmingham, director
Dolph Lundgren, who also stars, is
Studios production, “The
Map of Tiny Perfect Things,”
begins shooting in late February in
Fairhope and Mobile. Leading the
cast are Kathryn Newton (“Big Little
Lies”) and Kyle Allen (“American
Jones, also with the Alabama Film
Office, said the state often sees
lasting economic dividends from
films beyond just the jobs they
provide while shooting in Alabama.
motion picture such as ‘Just Mercy’
will attract thousands of visitors
to Montgomery’s civil rights sites,
much like the music documentary
‘Muscle Shoals’ attracts visitors to
the Shoals area,” Jones said.
movies will continue to impact the
state’s tourism industry for years
to come as new audiences watch them
on video, streaming services and
Mercy,” starring Michael B.
Jordan and Jamie Foxx, was partially
filmed in and around Montgomery
beginning in August 2018. The Warner
Bros. production recounts the true
story of how attorney Bryan
Stevenson (played by Jordan) cleared
inmate Walter McMillian (Foxx), who
was wrongly convicted of murder.
entered wide release at theaters in
January and has earned critical
Meanwhile, movies filmed in Alabama
during 2019 will soon make their
Still Believe,” had a private
screening earlier this month in
Mobile, where it was shot.
Distributor Lionsgate has set
widespread release for March 13, and
it will become the first faith-based
movie to play in IMAX theaters,
beginning March 11.
Jean and I were
thrilled to attend a private
screening of “I Still Believe,” a
new movie based on the true story of
Christian music star Jeremy Camp.
Believe” is the fifth film from
Birmingham brothers Jon and Andy
Erwin to feature Alabama. It depicts
the true story of Christian music
star Jeremy Camp and his journey of
love and loss. Stars include Gary
Sinise, Shania Twain, KJ Apa
(“Riverdale”) and Melissa Roxburgh
Erwins’ previous features include
“October Baby”, “Coffee Shop“,
“Mom’s Night Out”, and “Woodlawn.”
anticipated Alabama-filmed release
is “The Devil
All the Time,” a Netflix
psychological thriller with an
all-star cast that includes Tom
Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill
Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Mia
Wasikowska and Eliza Scanlon.
Devil All the Time” is described as
a Midwestern Gothic tale that
unfolds over two decades and
features a cast of nefarious
characters that includes a
serial-killer couple, a
faith-testing preacher and a corrupt
photography took place in locations
in and around Birmingham, Anniston
and Pell City between February and
said Alabama is also becoming an
increasingly popular location for
television series productions.
include “Love and Marriage:
Huntsville” for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN
Network, “Sweet Home
Sextuplets” for TLC (Guntersville)
and “The Cowboy Way: Alabama” for
INSP (Wiregrass area).
also boasts the long running
syndicated series “Today’s Homeowner
with Danny Lipford,” which films in
Mobile and is entering its 22nd season.
is very popular with the
high-profile HGTV channel, which
films a large number of episodic
shows here. HGTV also filmed a full
season series, “Beach Flip,” in Gulf
Shores that aired in 2016.
said Alabama offers a wide variety
of locations for film production
crews, with a completely different
look from one end of the state to
the other, ranging from beaches to
mountains and just about everything
“Birmingham and Mobile continue to
be our largest draw for film due to
their size, diversity of locations
and availability of crew. Huntsville
also draws a great amount of
interest, especially at the Space
and Rocket Center,” she said.
“Because we have so many beautiful
and diverse state parks, they
continue to be extremely popular for
activity is taking place in many
other cities across the state. Last
year, we had filming in a wider
range of locations, including
Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Dothan,
Fairhope, Anniston, Jacksonville,
Montevallo, Bessemer, McCalla and
York,” she added.
Alabama Film Office is part of the
Alabama Department of Commerce.
The Wrap January 23, 2020
Attractions has partnered with
Gravitas Ventures to acquire U.S.
distribution rights to Dakota
Johnson and Casey Affleck’s “The
Friend,” which premiered at the 2019
Toronto International Film Festival.
heartfelt true story is based on
Matthew Teague’s award-winning
autobiographical essay published in
Friend” tells the story of Nicole
(Johnson) and Teague (Affleck), who,
after receiving life-altering news,
find unexpected support from their
best friend, Dane (Jason Segel), who
puts his own life on hold and moves
into their family home, bringing an
impact much greater — and more
profound — than anyone could have
“Everyone knows the value of a
great friend, yet it’s rare to see
friendship dramatized in film,”
Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric
d’Arbeloff said in a statement. “To
see these three great actors shine
the light on what friendship means
when the going gets tough adds up to
something quite profound.”
addition to Johnson, Segel and
Affleck, “The Friend” features
Gwendoline Christie, Cherry Jones,
Isabella Kai, Violet McGraw and
country music sensation Jake Owen.
companies are planning on a fall
2020 release for the film.
Friend” is directed by acclaimed
BAFTA nominee, Gabriela
Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish,” “Megan
Leavey”) from a script by Brad
Ingelsby (“The Way Back,” “Run All
“Gabriela and her outstanding cast
have crafted a profoundly moving
portrait of the emotional bonds that
sustain us,” Gravitas Ventures’ vice
president of acquisitions Tony
Piantedosi said in a statement. “We
are thrilled to be partnered with
Roadside Attractions in presenting
‘The Friend’ to U.S. audiences this
is produced by Black Bear Pictures
and Scott Free Productions.
Producers are Academy Award-nominee
Kevin Walsh (“Manchester by the
Sea”), Michael Pruss (“Earthquake
Bird”), Ryan Stowell
(“Thoroughbreds”) and Academy
Award-nominee Teddy Schwarzman (“The
Scott, Ben Stillman, Michael Heimler,
Ted Deiker, Ingelsby, and Matthew
Teague, who consulted with Ingelsby
on his screenplay adaptation, will
serve as executive producers.
production was filmed on location in
Fairhope, Ala., where the Teague’s
real-life story took place.
thrilled to partner with our friends
at Gravitas and Roadside Attractions
to present the special journey that
is ‘The Friend,'” producers for the
film said. “This personal yet
universal story, which the Teague
family was generous enough to share,
makes us laugh, cry, think, feel,
and is a beautiful reminder of the
compassion that exists in this
world. We cannot wait for audiences
everywhere to see it.”
Gallagher and Tony Piantedosi
negotiated the deal with Endeavor
Content. STXinternational handled
international sales and is releasing
directly in the U.K.
Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck Drama
‘The Friend’ Picked Up by Roadside
Attractions and Gravitas Ventures
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American Pickers to Film in Southern
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Alabama Town New Homes for Christmas
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Horror Movies Filmed in Alabama Since 2000
Official Trailer for "I Still Believe" filmed in Mobile
and Gulf Shores, AL
Official Trailer for "Line of
Duty" filmed in Birmingham, AL
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