A recent string of successes show that Georgian film is back and here to stay with expanded capabilities. With USAID support, Georgia’s film and animation companies are building an international brand and creating job opportunities for the country’s creative professionals.
Georgia has traditionally punched above its weight in the film industry. Legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini once described Georgian film as “a completely unique phenomenon, vivid, philosophically inspiring.” During the middle and latter half of the 20th century, the country produced comedies, musicals, and dramatic films that captivated audiences worldwide.
Recently, Georgian filmmakers have revived that legacy, producing and working on internationally acclaimed films and creating career opportunities for Georgians with creative talent. Recent films such as Tangerines, My Happy Family, and Brighton 4th have captured multiple award categories at major film festivals. The country’s reputation as a production locale is growing, too. Tbilisi served as a filming location for the blockbuster film Fast and Furious 9 (F9), giving Georgian filmmakers the opportunity to gain experience working on a big-budget Hollywood film.
USAID aims to fuel Georgia’s film revival as part of the U.S. government’s broader effort to spur economic growth and job creation in Georgia’s economy. In the past three years, USAID assistance has helped Georgian companies contribute to major Hollywood projects.
USAID and Government of Georgia Partner to Catalyze Growth
In 2019, USAID partnered with Enterprise Georgia – the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development’s entrepreneur and business support agency – to help young film professionals get on-the-job training and to help creative firms expand their operations and build connections with major studios in Hollywood.
With support from USAID and Enterprise Georgia, Universal Pictures worked with Tbilisi-based Enkeny films on F9, which was partially shot in Tbilisi in 2019. Universal paired Georgian talent with their own film crews, cost-sharing Georgian salaries and crediting their work on the film. This gave Georgian professionals the opportunity to gain experience working on a blockbuster film.
In the policy sphere, USAID worked with the Government of Georgia, including the Parliament, and the private sector to identify steps to boost the sector’s competitiveness.
This resulted in Enterprise Georgia reintroducing a 20-25% cash rebate on qualified film expenses incurred in Georgia, including post-production. The rebate is designed to attract international film and television projects to the country, positioning Georgia as a key destination for film production and creating jobs in the process.
Georgia Goes to Hollywood
USAID has also provided support to POSTRED, a Tbilisi-based company that provides post-production services to film studios. In 2020, USAID helped the company obtain the necessary certifications for membership in the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) Trusted Partners’ Network, a mark of quality in the film industry. Founder Beso Kacharava and Managing Partner Tina Babikishvili are the power couple behind POSTRED, which has recently provided post-production services for major Hollywood projects including “Scream 5” and season 2 of “Euphoria,” a hit HBO Max series that averaged 5.6 million viewers during its first season. This has put the Georgian company on the map, allowing it to employ a 30-person team of experienced professionals and young people just breaking into the field.
There is room for even more growth. With an MPAA membership card in their pocket and a growing list of major projects on their resume, Beso and Tina are confident that the future has more in store, not only for POSTRED but for other Georgian companies looking to break into the field.
“As virtual borders are becoming non-existent, there is a huge demand for creative people worldwide,” says Tina. “Georgia’s creative industries, creative people, and the Georgian economy can really benefit from this situation.”
Tina and Beso also view their business as having a social mission: to create opportunities for young people to learn the trade and contribute to the film sector in future. When asked what advice he would share with young film professionals, Beso centered on the importance of hard work: “Love what you do, and try to show the world what you do. Don’t be the cheapest. Be the best.”
This spring, USAID and Enterprise Georgia will continue to support the growth of Georgia’s film industry by co-hosting an outreach event in Hollywood. In attendance will be senior executives from film studios and streaming services, as will independent filmmakers and producers with an interest in turning Georgia’s talent into box office success. This is just one example of how USAID is empowering Georgia’s creative firms to lead the development of a dynamic film industry, creating a more prosperous future for Georgia.