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Georgia incentives nabbed 'Footloose' movie

COVINGTON -- Location scouts for the remake of "Footloose" are continuing to scope out Covington and other towns in Georgia as they prepare to begin filming in September.

The Newton County Historic Courthouse has already been tapped for a courtroom scene that will tentatively be shot Sept. 17, 20 and 21, and other local locations, including the city of Mansfield, are also being considered, according to Lee Thomas, director of the film division of the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office.

Scouts first targeted Newton County last year, when they visited local high schools; since that time, the script has changed and so has the talent associated with it, but Newton remains a prime potential location.

"Covington is a beautiful town. We use it for a lot of things ... We send out photos of Covington every week," Thomas said.

The ease of working with Tourism Director Clara Deemer is part of the reason the state recommends Covington as a film site, Thomas said. Often, it's difficult to scout high schools, for example, but Deemer succeeded in getting scouts into local schools last year, and they remembered the community after the project was retooled. A producer on the film has also worked in Covington in the past.

The movie stars Dennis Quaid, two-time "Dancing with the Stars" champion Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald as Ren McCormack, the role originally made famous by Kevin Bacon.

Native Tennessean Craig Brewer is directing. Brewer had intended to shoot in Tennessee, like he did with his other projects, "Black Snake Moan" and "Hustle and Flow," "but our incentives are much better than Tennesee's and we were able to pull it down here," Thomas said.

"This tax incentive was put in place in 2005. The percentages were upped and the incentive was more streamlined in 2008 to the 30 percent level. At that point, business slowly started coming in," she said. Last year, the film industry invested more than $800 million into the Georgia economy and this year will best that, she said.

"It helps not only crew and equipment suppliers but hotels ... dry cleaners, rental car companies. A lot of people who have been out of work have found work in the film industry," Thomas said.

"Footloose" is slated to film in Georgia from September to November. Information regarding extras casting will be released later. Updates will also be available by calling the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office hotline at 404-962-4055.