Chattanooga is located in southeast Tennessee along the Tennessee River bordering Georgia. Chattanooga is the county seat of Hamilton County and anchors the tri-state MSA of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.
According to the 2020 census, Chattanooga’s population was marked at just over 181,000. The MSA continues its growth from a diverse economy of manufacturing, distribution, and service industries. Chattanooga is an important hub and crossroads for highways and rail lines. These transportation features have been in place since the 19th century securing Chattanooga’s position as a major supplier during the civil war and World Wars I and II.
Like most cities in the US in the early 2000s, Chattanooga partnered with funding from public and private sources to redevelop its industrial area, its downtown, and neighborhoods. The land surrounding the rail lines is now a modern distribution center. Chattanooga has become a major inland port for products shipped inland and repackaged for transport to areas east of the Mississippi River and the Midwest.
Chattanooga has re-invented itself as a hub for the manufacturing, utility, and service industries, as well as the gateway city to the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast. Filming in Chattanooga is popular due to these and other special reasons you will find in this guide.
Filming Options in Chattanooga
The locations offered for filming in Chattanooga range from commercial spaces with operating themed businesses, open span studios to be furnished and decorated, and residences of atypical architecture. The outdoor spaces include rooftops, courtyards, and unimproved acreage.
- Production Services
Filming is ubiquitous and with varying definitions. The industry ranges from full-length features to clips for website content. A production service studio needs both the scalability to accommodate the objective of the client, and the flexibility in scope to tailor to the client’s use of the end product.
If the filming is a full day or covers multiple days, then a caterer will need the experience of serving the set with a varying time schedule. Of all the services needed for filming, the food and beverage service will be the most remembered and will set the tone for the entire experience. The meal service throughout the day needs to be smooth and seamless. The snacks and beverage replenishment between the meals need to be monitored and acted upon. These services need to be planned and executed for both indoor and remote locations.
The city of Chattanooga does not have a dedicated film office or a department within its city hall to obtain a permit for filming. However, there will be certain permissions and registrations that need to be made. The most effective approach is through the Tennessee Entertainment Commission. This commission will work with the producers as the liaison between the local and state governments.
Filming Companies in Chattanooga
Another feature of this guide is the introduction of local companies providing ancillary services in the support of filming. These local companies and state departments offer professional production assistance before, during, and after the filming in Chattanooga. The local knowledge brought to a film venue will prove time-saving to the schedule and will bring efficiencies to the budget.
- Braly Image Group
Although based in Chattanooga, Braly Images provides full production services throughout the Southeast. The client base crosses over into several markets. The in-studio talent has experience in working with advertising agencies, producers of movie and television films, and web platforms. The full-service studio includes pre- and post-production services. Braly Image Group offers free consultations for the benefit of the client and the studio staff. The client also has the option of including distribution services within the scope of production.
- Chattown Catering
This husband-and-wife catering company operates on a 24-hour clock to provide its clients with professional, themed events. A film set and photo shoots are specific mentions in its experience venues. The venues can be either indoor or out-of-doors in remote locations. The menu choices can differ throughout the day, or over several days, with the appropriate changes in the style of service.
- Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department
This department is the administrator of the film tax incentive program. There are three distinct and separate incentive programs in the form of a cash rebate, a credit, and a point-of-sale exemption. The rebate program comes in the form of a 25% grant. The credit and exemption programs extend to the reduction of franchise and excise taxes of up to 50%. There is a separate application by qualified productions for a full tax exemption on taxable goods and services at the point of sale.
Pros and Cons of Filming in Chattanooga
Below is a list of three categories in each of the advantages and the disadvantages column for filming in Chattanooga. The items in these columns are given equal weight and without the implication of a complete list. Different film projects will carry varying weights to be applied by the producers.
- Tennessee’s Tax incentive programs
There are tax incentive programs offered to producers filming in Tennessee. The grant program offers a 25% rebate on qualified expenses and a reduction or a full exemption program at the time of sale. Under certain conditions, there can be additional incentives extending to state sales tax and the hotel occupancy tax.
As a part of the downtown revitalization of the early 2000s, Chattanooga has become known for its entertainment corridor of dining, cultural, and leisure venues. The architectural attractions of its buildings and bridges, along with the sculptures and murals, lend to the interesting cityscapes enjoyed by residents and visitors.
Chattanooga is located on the Cumberland Plateau at the southern point of the Appalachian Mountains. Because of this terrain, Chattanooga has become a haven for outdoor activities for cyclists and runners and a preferred venue for marathons and triathlons. Outside Magazine has twice named Chattanooga the “best town ever.”
Chattanooga is a very car-dependent city. Although the downtown area has a walk score of 69, the city as a whole has a score of 29. The public transportation systems are considered minimal, and the roads are not accommodating bike lanes.
The summers in Chattanooga are hot and humid, and the winters are mild and wet. The temperatures in the summer months can reach above 90°F, and the winter lows can hover at freezing.
- Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption
Tennessee offers an exemption to the hotel occupancy tax to production companies after 30 days’ occupancy. Although the other tax incentives are administered through Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development Department, the registration for the hotel occupancy tax must be made at the county clerk’s office and coordinated through the hotelier.
Famous Locations in Chattanooga.
- The Tennessee Aquarium
There are two water journeys to be experienced by aquarium visitors—the freshwater of rivers and swamps and the saltwater of the oceans. The experience is the education of the marine species and the care of each ecosystem. There is an IMAX center to enhance the learning of the marine environment and habitat.
- Ruby Falls in Lookout Mountain
Ruby Falls is the deepest of cave waterfalls accessible to the public in the US. Although the walking trail is short, the cave elevator is 260 feet down. There is another elevator to the top of Lookout Mountain for panoramic views of Chattanooga, the Tennessee River, and the Appalachians. For visitors wanting physical challenges, there is a supervised 40’ climb and 700 feet of ziplines.
- Lookout Mountain Railway
Another way to experience Lookout Mountain is taking a trolley-styled rail car. This rail has been in operation for more than 125 years. The route has become known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile” at a 72.7% grade. Once at the top, a short walk will take visitors to the 10-acre Point Park to tour this national civil war memorial.