MACON, Ga. -- With over 300 different projects filmed in Georgia for fiscal year 2019, the Peach State is slowly becoming the Hollywood of the east coast.

According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, film projects in 2019 invested $2.9 billion dollars into the state -- but when it comes to Macon, that number is not easy to come across.

With its charming and historic architecture, Macon has served as the backdrop for several big-name projects like Hillbilly Elegy, Need for Speed, Movie 42 -- the biopic about the life of Jackie Robinsons -- and the scifi film, The 5th Wave.

After all that success though, county records show Macon saw a downward trend in film projects for the past two to three years. But Aaron Buzza with the Macon Film Commission says that all changed in 2019.

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"Macon has a lot of versatility when it comes to filming, etc. There are areas around the state that have some similar architecture in Macon, but not maybe the same size across the community. So that sets us apart and draws interest," Buzza says.

A total of six major productions were filmed Macon-Bibb County in 2019, including Zombieland: Double Tap. Cameras also captured the city where soul lives for the HBO superhero series Watchmen.

But the Georgia Department of Economic Development reported that almost $3 billion was invested into the state from film projects last year -- so, how much of that did Macon-Bibb County net?

A film crew in downtown Macon/Photo: WGXA

"I think the productions, I would estimate spent $5 to $6 million themselves spending here in the community. That’s on all aspects of filming," says Buzza.

Buzza adds that production companies are not required to detail their expenditures, making it hard for Macon-Bibb to get a hard number for total amount spent in the community.

The county itself only handles certain parts of the production process, meaning the county only tracks certain things.

But one thing that is tracked are the street closures. County records show a typical street closure will cost about $500 a day, while single-lane and alley closures will run about $250 a day. But that can still add up for Bibb County.

For example, Netflix filmed a production in Macon in July 2019 titled project Ivan, and according to the contract between the county and the film, just under $26,000 was spent in street closures alone.

When it comes to extra security on the premises of filming projects that call for Bibb County deputies or filming inside different downtown businesses, Buzza says those situations are handled independently, making it even more difficult to track the total amount a production is generating.

"Whatever the production company needs and the services the county provides is being paid for by the production company so if it’s the off-duty sheriff’s deputies, if it’s someone to turn the fountain on and off, if it’s a street light operator, because we need to make sure for the entire 90 seconds of our shot the street light is green, they are all hired by the production company," he says.

Meanwhile, officials in Savannah have created a formula to determine the impact the productions filming in their area brings in.

"They are asking questions of the production company that we are starting to ask now. It’s a vast number that they have of productions. I think last year they had over 100, while we had six. The need to study it is probably greater. Just to know what the investment is, versus what the return is for the community and for the surrounding area," says Buzza.

Buzza adds that 2020 is shaping up to be yet another big year for film productions in Macon, a city primarily known for its rich music heritage.

WGXA reached out to Savannah's film commission, which says its statistical model to create a total economic impact number was developed specifically for Savannah and is more accurate than using a national, state, or industry average rate.