There's McClellan with its Spanish-colonial architecture; mountains with jaw-dropping views; and a university to teach the ins and outs of the entertainment business — a multi-billion-dollar industry, really — that puts families in front of their TV sets and sweaty-palmed dates chomping popcorn in front of theater screens.
But directors have chosen to yell "Action" elsewhere.
That could change soon.
Thanks to the passage of the Alabama Entertainment Industry Incentive Act — and a $500,000 appropriation to Jacksonville State University — northeast Alabama is poised to be the set where plot lines unfold and a cash-strapped economy reaps the benefits.
The act gives tax breaks and other incentives to film crews who shoot and stay here. As part of the initiative, JSU leaders will launch a pilot film program that links Los Angeles to the Heart of Dixie.
"Despite the fact that we have smart people in beautiful places surrounded by mountains and interesting architecture, it's the business deal that matters most to the producer in California," said Pete Conroy, director of the Environmental Policy and Information Center at JSU. "And that's why this incentive act that was passed by the Legislature matters so much."
Conroy will sit on a committee with Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, and other university officials from across Alabama to oversee the pilot program.
There's an academic component, Conroy said, and direct portals to connect JSU to Hollywood. He declined to give more details until a committee meets next month. Lindsey, who represents the 39th district of Cherokee, Cleburne and DeKalb counties, said Alabama lost film business when other states offered incentive packages. The state had incentives until 2006.
He hopes the act, which is effective Oct. 1, will be an adrenaline shot to the economy.
Movie sets are crammed with blue- and white-collar workers — construction workers, set designers, hair dressers, make-up artists, caterers and accountants, among others. The money they earn filters into the local economy.
"It certainly (would) have a huge economic impact in our towns and cities and communities across the state as these industries tend to locate here as movies are shot here," Lindsey said.
Producers for the Oscar-winning film Walk the Line spent about $10 million while filming in Tennessee, and that created an economic boon of about $20 million for local communities, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
"What I want to see us do is actually attract entertainment industry that ends up staying here as well, not just shooting a movie," Lindsey said. "We're talking about TV production — that sort of thing."
Education is also part of the incentive, Lindsey said. Schools across Alabama offer majors centered on entertainment, yet the students flee the state after graduation.
"If we are to have industry here, and have educational opportunities," he said, "we're able to keep those students in Alabama."