Let’s talk about that.
Back in 2015, when I was still living in Ohio, I had no idea the film industry even existed in Atlanta. If you’re the same way, then let me help you out and give you a brief history lesson.
In 2008, Georgia passed a tax credit that gave productions a huge financial incentive to bring their projects to the state. With dollar signs in their eyes, Hollywood producers started bringing big budget productions to Georgia, the vast majority of them to the Atlanta area.
So now fast forward to 2020. What has happened in Georgia in the past decade? Well, it’s been reported that film and television production has grown to become a $9.5 billion industry in the state.
In 2016, the year I moved to Atlanta, more major feature films were made in Georgia than in California. Let that sink in.
And the movies made in Georgia aren’t some obscure films you’ve never heard of. They are often some of the biggest box office blockbusters year after year including the highest grossing movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame. Yep, shot in Pinewood Studios just south of Atlanta.
Let me give you a few more examples of films that were made in Georgia in the past decade.
Avengers Infinity War
Ant man and The Wasp
Captain America Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Godzilla King of Monsters
The Fate of the Furious
Bad Moms Christmas
Hunger Games Catching Fire
Hunger Games Mocking Jay
Pitch Perfect 3
And many many many more.
Oh wait, those were just the movies. I didn’t mention any shows from the past decade. Ok, well, how about
The Walking Dead
The Vampire Diaries
Kevin Probably Saves the World
Council of Dads
Drop Dead Diva
Being Mary Jane
Halt and Catch Fire
PLUS. ALL of Tyler Perry’s movies and television shows being produced in his massive 330 acre studio log right in the heart of Atlanta.
All of that and more has happened in Georgia since 2008. Crazy huh?
Ok, so now back to our original question: Should you move to Atlanta for acting?
Well, ultimately, this is a very personal question and not one that I can answer for you. But what I can do is give you as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision that’s right for your particular situation.
Here are some factors that you should take into consideration before deciding to move to Atlanta.
First of all, if you’re still worried that Atlanta is too small of a market compared to say, New York or LA, even though I just gave you that huge list of movies and shows shot here, if you’re still worried that Atlanta doesn’t have enough opportunities for actors, let me put that to rest right now.
The amount of opportunity here is not just good, it’s actually kind of mind blowing. The sheer volume of auditions I started getting when I first moved here was… it was actually a bit overwhelming at first.
Of course, I was hoping for more auditions after I moved - especially in TV and film - but even then, it still far exceeded my expectations. Let’s run through some numbers really quick.
Here are the number of film and TV auditions that I’ve received year by year since 2011.
Number of Film and Television Auditions I Received
2011 - 1 (I was still living in Ohio at this point)
2012 - 0
2013 - 0
2014 - 3
2015 - 7
2016 - 76 (Moved to Georgia)
2017 - 105
2018 - 92
2019 - 110
Wow. I have no other words. I went from getting around one or two film and television auditions per year to over a hundred! 110 auditions in 2019 that’s one every three days!
So, when I say the amount of opportunity in Atlanta is kind of mind blowing, that’s not an exaggeration. if you’re an actor thinking about moving to Atlanta to further your career and your biggest hangup is that you’re worried about the amount of opportunity, stop worrying. There is a TON going on in Atlanta right now.
And if anyone tells you that you HAVE to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, they don’t know what they’re talking about. They have no clue.
I’m not saying you can’t move to LA; of course you can. There’s obviously plenty of opportunity for actors in LA as well. I’m just saying there are other options out there. And Atlanta happens to be one of the BEST options.
Is Atlanta Better than LA? Well, that’s an even trickier question because what’s better for one person may not be for someone else. So you’re going to have to define “better” for yourself.
But I will say this, I think for actors who are newer to the industry and who are in the early stages of their careers, Atlanta is a better option than LA.
Why? Well, for starters, there are fewer barriers to entry in Atlanta. Meaning it’s going to be a little bit easier for a newer actor to get the ball rolling in Atlanta than in LA.
It’s going to be a little bit easier to get their first agent. It’s going to be a little bit easier to get their first auditions. It’s going to be a little bit easier to book their first job. It’s going to be easier because
Another reason why Atlanta might be more desirable than LA is the cost of living. The median rent in LA for a 1 bedroom apartment is $2,362. The median rent in Atlanta for a 1 bedroom is $1,590.
If you're looking to buy, the median home price in Atlanta is $210k compared to $634k in LA.
I’ve heard so many stories of actors who move to LA, blow through all their savings in less than one year, and have to move back home because they can’t afford it.
It’s not easy to break into this business no matter where you are. If breaking into the industry in LA is like fighting a 400lb gorilla. Then breaking in to the industry in Atlanta is like fighting that gorilla’s slightly smaller younger sibling. Either way, you’re still fighting a gorilla. It’s not gonna be easy. But, if given the choice, I’d want to fight the smaller one.
Ok, so those were some reasons to go to Atlanta. What are some reasons you might want to go to LA instead?
Hollywood has a mystique. There’s a romantic idea of moving to Hollywood. If you’re in love with the idea of pursuing your dream in Hollywood, the way the movie La La Land portrays it, then there’s probably nothing I can say that will convince you that any other place might be a better option for your career.
Do you want the lifestyle of LA? Do you want the weather of LA? Do you want to surf every day? Run into a studio exec at a coffee shop? You're not going to get any of that in any other market than LA.
What about some actual industry related reasons? Well, if you want to be on a sit-com or a soap opera. LA is the place to be. There are currently (in 2020) zero sit-coms or soap operas being shot in Georgia. So if you are strategically targeting those types of projects above anything else, you will be much better off in Los Angeles.
I should also point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with moving to LA later in your career. Nobody says that you have to pick a city and live there forever. I know plenty of actors who have moved to LA later on in their careers after they established themselves as bookable actors in Atlanta.
That being said, I also know actors that were consistently working in LA but elected to move to Atlanta because of the lower cost of living.
This post may seem a bit biases because I live in Atlanta, but the last thing I want to do is to twist your arm into moving here. I just want to provide you with information so that you can make a better educated choice when you do decide to move.
I’ve been in Atlanta since 2016 and I have no plans to move to LA, to New York, or anywhere else for that matter. I get great auditions. I’m booking. I get to work on some of the biggest films and television shows in the world. On top of that, I can afford to own a home.
Lastly, I LOVE the creative community in Atlanta. From the actors, to the acting teachers, to the agents, to the casting directors, everyone is so unbelievably supportive of one another. In a career that can feel very isolating, knowing that your peers are rooting for you and have your back can make a huge difference.
Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best of luck. Hope to see you on set one day!