By Amy Wenk
Around Oct. 19, it was difficult to traverse Club Drive in Historic Brookhaven, which connects Peachtree Road to Peachtree-Dunwoody Road. Cars and equipment trucks lined the residential street while a cop directed traffic along the confined roadway.
The commotion came from crews who took over the 4100 block of Club Drive to film “Life As We Know It.” The romantic comedy from Warner Bros. stars Katherine Heigl of the television drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and Josh Duhamel of the blockbuster movie “Transformers.” Scheduled for release Dec. 22, 2010, the movie follows two single adults who become caregivers of a girl when her parents — their mutual best friends — die in a car accident.
The movie, which is directed by Greg Berlanti, began filming in Atlanta this September at a bakery in the Virginia-Highlands.
The production then moved to the stately home on Club Drive, which will serve as the exterior of the couple’s house, said Frank Clementi, president of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association.
Around Labor Day, Club Drive closed to stage a block party scene with a barbecue and live band.
“Extras, many of whom live in the neighborhood, wandered up and down the street having fun at the celebration and getting the close look at the films stars,” said Clementi, who got a tour of the set Oct. 19 with his two children.
“Life As We Know It” is expected to film in Atlanta into November.
Hotspot for entertainment
“Life As We Know It” is the first production Clementi has seen in the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood in the 10 years he has lived there.
He said the movie’s location scouts were familiar with Druid Hills, where “Driving Miss Daisy” was filmed, but not Brookhaven.
“After they discovered this area, they just really loved it,” Clementi said. The site selection manager “told me to expect Hollywood to keep coming” and that “Brookhaven is a hidden gem for onsite film productions.”
The entertainment industry finds Georgia quite promising.
In May 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed legislation that boosted the state tax credit for production companies. Now film, television, music videos and similar projects that spend at least $500,000 in Georgia can qualify for tax credits up to 30 percent.
The result is more entertainment companies in the South.
“It looks like the level of activity is going to be up significantly this year over 2008,” said Oscar Turner, former chief operating officer for Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios. In July, he began his own feature film and television company, Gallery Road Productions LLC. “I certainly think that Georgia can have a prominent position in production outside of Los Angeles and New York … maybe a top five location.”
He said several factors make Georgia a desirable location.
“One is the relatively temperate climate,” Turner said. “The second thing that I love about shooting here is the versatile topography. You have got mountains, city, and ocean.”
He added Georgia has production infrastructure and the bustling Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
“You’ve got crews,” Turner said. “You have got people who are familiar with the production process, and you’ve got studio space.”
Considering the average feature film costs $41.7 million, the entertainment industry has an impact on the state.
In 2008, there were 637 productions shot in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (www.georgia.org). The economic impact of those projects was approximately $524 million.
A prominent production industry also could impact tourism in Georgia, Turner said.
“The business that we are in is a worldwide business,” he said. “And because people are so excited about entertainment, to become one of the premiere locations for entertainment production really does attract the interest of people worldwide.”