Over the last 40 years, Northerners and Northern states questioned why cities Southern cities like Atlanta and Birmingham would shut down at the mere mention of ice. It was a curious development for anyone who dealt with snowy winters for days on end.
In truth, it wasn't the ice that was the major concern. It was the hills. Stretching 1,500 miles from Maine into Georgia, the Appalachians provided states breathtaking vistas. Heavily reliant on their cars, the Appalachians also turned 200 counties across North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi into virtual slip and slides. Risking the lives of citizens who didn't have much experience with snow and ice wasn't worth it.
Fortunately, by noon, what little ice had formed had melted and the roadways were clear. Ice, protected from the sun by the South's abundant trees, was no match against communities built around the car. Business would begin picking back up noon. When the snow rarely sticks, with ice being a hindrance twice a year at best, it was cheaper to shut down a city for a day, than purchase expensive equipment.
In half a decade, that's changed. The South's winters have become increasingly colder. Within a month's time, Atlanta has experienced two multi-day citywide shutdowns. This has impacted filming here, including long running TV shows Vampire Diaries and Drop Dead Diva, and recent new additions The Originals and Devious Maids.
Atlanta and Georgia's warm winters have long been a major draw for film productions. During production of the first season of October Road, the trees started turning green and blooming sooner than expected. The art department manufactured fall leaves to create the illusion that Laura Prepon's Hannah was enjoying a crisp fall walk across the campus of a college in Knights Ridge, Massachusetts, and not on a set in the Peach State.
The recent shift in weather has highlighted how detrimental the lack of a robust public transportation system can have on a city. The South's libertarian spirit is reflected in Georgia's 159 counties and multitude of cities. Quick and effective response to events that affect multiple counties requires a high level of coordination and cooperation, and clear lines of leadership when a state is that fractured. This winter put that on display for the entire nation to watch on 24 news channels and to laugh at as late night comedians mined the state's reaction and political structure for jokes.
Making movies with mulitmillion dollar budgets is a miracle of logistics. Only the military is as efficient at repeatedly moving hundreds of people, vehicles and equipment from one location to another over the course three to four months. Often doing that with only a day stop at a time. Frequent and extended delays can add thousands to millions of dollars in costs to film's bottom line.
There's no cause for alarm at the moment. If Georgia's winters remain this cold for the foreseeable future, it would be prudent for Georgia's Film Industry to be a vocal champion of viable solutions and proactive action. Those solutions would benefit all of Georgia, not just the film industry. And getting ahead of a problem means staying ahead of the competition.