Georgia College Preps Students for Jobs in State’s Burgeoning Movie Industry

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Georgia College’s first course in moviemaking prepares students to work in the state’s $7 billion industry, dubbed “Hollywood of the South.”

Only five of 30 schools in the University System of Georgia (USG) – and four schools in the Technical College System of Georgia – have partnered with the Georgia Film Academy (GFA) to offer “Introduction to On-Set Film Production.”

Internships on movie sets, as well as access to $100,000 worth of real film equipment at Georgia College, make this opportunity exciting, according to Dr. Karen Berman, chair and artistic director of theatre and dance.

“Georgia College needed to be teaching film. It was always on our wish list,” she said. “We got in on the ground floor, and we weren’t sure how it was going to work, but it’s been growing with us.”

“I think our students are very motivated, and they have a great work ethic,” Berman said. “Now, being able to learn actual skills in the craft of moviemaking, they are going to be unstoppable.”

In 2008, Governor Sonny Perdue created a tax incentive to lure film production to the state and generate thousands of jobs. Georgia now ranks third in the nation for moviemaking, behind Hollywood, California and New York. More than 245 films and television programs have been shot here.

In the next three-to-five years, the industry is expected to create up to 5,000 new jobs with median salaries of $84,000, Berman said.

Blockbusters like “The Hunger Games” and this summer’s “Spiderman Homecoming” were filmed in Georgia. In recent years, Macon hosted several movies, including “42” and “Trouble with the Curve.”

This year, according to Project Casting, nine movies will be filmed instate, including “Avengers: Infinity War,” “The Darkest Minds,” “Den of Thieves” and “Misfortune.”

The attraction is availability of cheap land, good tax incentives and a varied landscape, said Bryan Krass, the GFA instructor who teaches film at Georgia College.

“You’ve got mountains. You go to Columbus, and you get more open fields. You go southeast, and you’ve got the coast. Swamps in the south. The Southeast is pretty diverse,” Krass said.

The only thing lacking was a qualified, instate workforce. GFA was created to meet that need. The academy opened in 2015 and graduated its first class in December: 209 students with job-ready certificates.

“If you don’t have a labor force, it’s hard to attract movies,” Krass said. “It’s always been an industry where, if you don’t know anybody, it’s hard to get that first job. The Georgia Film Academy tears down that barrier.”

Employment is mostly reputation based, but “once you’re in, you’re in,” Krass said. “Film is one of the last few meritocracies in the world. If you’re good, you’re good. And if you’re good, you’ll work.”

GFA is located at Pinewoods Atlanta Studios on 700 acres outside Fayetteville. The multi-million-dollar complex was built in 2014 with 18 sound stages movie companies rent. The introductory, hands-on course at Georgia College covers what students need to become production assistants or camera, lighting, grip and electrical workers.

Senior mass communication major Maggie Foster of Marietta discovered she likes using a counter-weighted camera crane called a ‘jib.’

“I never would’ve known I’d enjoy using it had I not been able to try it in class,” Foster said. “We’re really immersing ourselves in what it means to be a proper member of a film crew.”

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