Christopher Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was in Atlanta on Feb. 22, 2012 to speak with the Atlanta Press Club about the importance of the Georgia entertainment industry to the state’s economy, and the diverse array of jobs created in the state through film and television production. Markee was there with other members of the local media.
"In just four years – between 2007 and 2011 – the economic impact of production in Georgia grew from $244 million to $2.4 billion. The number of jobs supported by the industry in Georgia more than doubled: from 11,800 to 25,000," the former senator from Connecticut said.
He continued: "And the economic benefits of film and TV production are not limited to those who work on the shows and movies. In Covington, production of The Vampire Diaries can mean 2,500 hotel rooms filled. Across Atlanta, owners of small office buildings and warehouses who have been unable to find tenants in a tough economy are renting them out as sets. Restaurants and caterers, drug stores and dry cleaners – when a production comes to town, everybody benefits."
Dodd then discussed the recent trade deal reached between the United States and China that would allow more U.S. films to be viewed in Chinese theaters. "One of the best ways for our country to spread our values abroad is through our culture," he said. "And this agreement will keep that line of dialogue open with Chinese audiences curious about the superpower on the other side of the Pacific."
He concluded his remarks by voicing the MPAA's views on online piracy, a top priority for the organization. "Let me be clear: Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet. I firmly believe that our industry cannot survive without the innovations that come out of Silicon Valley every day – and I know that we must have a free and open Internet to keep those innovations coming.
"But it works both ways," he continued. "As a letter signed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the online activist group NetCoalition stated, 'A strong system of copyright protection for online content is critical to the continued success of the flourishing Internet marketplace of ideas.'"
There are sensible solutions to the problem. There's more to gain by working together, he said, but policymakers need to understand the full economic impact of this inudstry. "The future of the film and TV industry will look very different from its past. But the heart of our
industry – a great story, well-told – remains the same. And if we continue to do exactly what Georgia has done – treat films and TV shows not just as important parts of our culture, but as critical job creators – it will be a bright future, indeed: one in which this state will play a starring role."