33 major movies and television shows have made Georgia their filming home this month, according to projectcasting.com. Some of the projects of note include season six of The Walking Dead, Neighbors 2, Clint Eastwood’s Sully and The Divergent Series: Allegiant Part 1. Clearly the film industry in Georgia is growing, and may even appear to rival Hollywood in what it has to offer movie studios. Film majors and minors at University of West Georgia (UWG) and colleges across the state may not need to cast their nets very far to make a career for themselves.
Some aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals seem to be seeking out Atlanta and its surrounding cities for potential work. Stacy Barton, associate Mass Communications professor and independent filmmaker, remembers the success of one of her former students from University of Colorado.
“Over the summer, Brock Byrd did an internship with The Walking Dead,” said Barton. “He was an assistant camera, so he was actually on set with the camera people, helping them set up and shoot. He didn’t get paid, he had to pay his own way out here. But he told me ‘I learned more there than I ever learned in film school.”
Whether a student chooses to work in sunny California or woodsy Georgia, many of the same struggles involved with trying to produce a film still apply.
“The biggest challenge is creative versus administrative,” said Barton. “A producer, their role is budgeting, location, doing paperwork and getting everything organized. The director is all creative, [thinking] okay, what actors do I want? What costumes and how is the camera going to work? If you are an independent filmmaker, it is likely you are doing both of those things.”
One notable example of the opportunities that Atlanta has to offer film industry professionals is the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF). The 40th annual ATLFF will be held this upcoming spring from April 1-10. Deon Kay, film and video production sequence head at UWG, is intimately involved with the events of the festival.
“I am fairly closely affiliated with the festival and have been on the jury for the past three years,” said Kay.
The festival gives up-and-coming filmmakers the prospect of showcasing their films in a variety of genres, including Narrative, Documentary, Short Film Blocks and Special Presentations. Besides the main event of presenting selected submissions, ATLFF hosts panels and seminars year round to help artists develop their crafts. The most extensive example of the workshops is their annual Creative Conference, which boasts an assortment of events from many leaders in the industry. Some of the events are free and some come at a small cost to attendants, but regardless, these events could be of use to film students.
Whether or not Atlanta is becoming the next Hollywood remains to be seen but students breaking into show business might want to keep Georgia on their radar.
“It’s kind of top secret information, but there is a movie studio in the works in Carrollton, a major movie studio,” said Barton. “And in Atlanta certainly, there are [studios] like that already.”