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ED SPIVIA, FILM COMMISSIONER June 28, 2012

Posted by comeintomygarden in Other.
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OK, the fellow on the left is Burt Reynolds, but do you recognize the one on the right? It’s our own Ed Spivia and he has had one heck of a career!
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the movie ‘Deliverence’.  11 Alive has interviewed Ed about his part in the movie which was the precursor to movies being filmed in Georgia. To see the interview, click below …

http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=1692739824001&odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|featured

Edwin D Spivia was born in Murphy, North Carolina.  While attending Young Harris College, Spivia became a radio announcer at WKRK radio station in Murphy, NC.  In 1965, he came to Atlanta and joined WGST Radio where he moved from announcer to news reporter.  In this role Spivia soon found himself in the national spotlight as he conducted an interview with newly elected House member Julian Bond.  It was Spivia’s interview and subsequent testimony before the Georgia General Assembly which resulted in Bond being denied his seat in the House of Representatives.

In 1968, Spivia left broadcasting for the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade where he developed the idea of the Georgia Film Commission.  Ed knew that from the Georgia coast to the foothills of the Appalachians, the Peach State could offer nearly any location that a TV or movie producer could ask for.  “I was actually working for the Department of Industry and Trade, which is now the Economic Development Department, putting out a magazine about things happening in the state called ‘Georgia Progress’.  They were doing ‘Deliverence’ in Rabun County and I went up to do a story on it and saw them spending money on hotels and drivers and food and came back and told (Governor Jimmy) Carter that we ought to try to get more movies in.  He said ‘devise a program and we’ll do it.”

“I saw a couple of things: money, the creation of jobs and the opportunity for people in Georgia to get involved in the arts in a way they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Spivia promptly went to Hollywood and started talking to directors and producers about bringing their productions to Georgia.

“I had pretty good success and that’s how I got to be the first film commissioner.”

Over the years, Spivia had the chance to meet many famous actors and musicians such as John Wayne, Paul Newman, Walter Matthau, Ray Charles, Chuck Norris and Rachel Ward, just to name a few, and he also worked with five governors and five mayors.

While Spivia was head of the State Film Commission, he was asked to head the Georgia Tourism Office.  During his 7 year tenure as Tourism Director, Spivia developed the concept of promoting the different regions of Georgia rather than having all Georgia communities competing against each other.  The state’s tourism budget for advertising was increased threefold over any previous period and Georgia moved from 27th in tourism revenue and visitation nationally to 7th, second only to Florida in the southeast.  The tourism advertising logo, developed under Spivia’s direction, featuring the Georgia peach, became so popular it was placed on Georgia license plates.  Spivia also conceived and directed the program to collect gold from around the state to replace the gold on the Capitol.  This was done by a wagon train which visited all previous capitols of the state and traveled from the Golden Isles to the gold hills of Dahlonega.

It was at the Department of Industry and Trade that Spivia met former Macon Mayor Buck Melton who was serving as a member of the Board of Industry and Trade.  In 1983, along with Macon businessmen Bill Fickling and Ben Porter, they formed Filmworks, USA, with Spivia as President.  Filmworks obtained a 50 year lease on the Lakewood Fairgrounds with the idea of turning it into a movie studio and Universal-tour type facility.  About 30 pictures were shot at that location.  They also brought to Atlanta the Lakewood Amphitheatre during that time.

Tax incentives dwindled in the 1980s and Spivia and his partners made a decision to turn Lakewood Fairgrounds south of Atlanta into an antique mall which gained national renown.  The city wanted to buy back the property in 2006 which resulted in EUE Screen Gems putting a movie studio in Lakewood, renovating the property.  Director Tyler Perry is now filming at the location.

Seeing the movie industry in Georgia slowing recently, Governor Sonny Perdue asked Spivia to come back and chair the Film Commission in 2006.

Spivia served as a member of the Board of the Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association, The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chairman of Travel South USA, and was named one of the top three tourism directors in the USA, as well as “Georgia Toastmaster of the Year”, among many other awards and accolades.

Today, Spivia and his wife, Barbara, are the owner of the successful spinoff of Lakewood Antiques, Lakewood 400 Antiques Market in Cumming, Georgia.

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