Georgia Film Academy – Educating Georgia’s Aspiring Film Professionals

Student in the Georgia Film Academy
Image courtesy of Georgia Film Academy

Georgia is home to the third largest film industry and has most recently been named number one for feature films, even surpassing Hollywood in feature filmmaking — the long-standing leader in the industry.  This is exciting news for Georgia and as a result of this boom, Georgia’s film industry is growing much faster than many expected.  It is growing so fast that jobs outpace the local qualified people who can fill them.  In order to fill this gap, Georgia Film Academy (GFA) was created to train locals in film so that Georgia can utilize its own homegrown talent to fill some of these positions.  

Image of Jeff Stepakoff, Director of Georgia Film AcademyThis great initiative is led by, Executive Director, Jeff Stepakoff.  He is a writer-producer with over 28 years of experience in the industry.  His most notable work includes The Wonder Years, Sisters, Major Dad, Beauty & the Beast, Simon & Simon, and Dawson’s Creek.   He and his team are committed to getting “jobs for Georgians” in the film industry.  Jeff and his team have developed a comprehensive program that trains students for work on one of Georgia’s many film sets.  This training includes in lighting and electric, grip and rigging, and set construction and painting.  Education and training then culminates in an internship with a film production company filming in Georgia.

The Georgia Film Academy works in conjunction with the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia.  Partner schools that offer GFA classes are as follows:

 

  • Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • Clayton State University (offering continuing education courses)
  • Columbus State University
  • Dalton State College
  • Georgia College
  • Georgia Piedmont Technical College
  • Georgia State University
  • Gwinnett Technical College
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Savannah Technical College
  • Southern Crescent Technical College
  • University of West Georgia

These schools work to get students workforce ready for areas of high need in as little time as possible so that graduates can take advantage of working on the set of many of Georgia’s film projects.  

The Georgia Film Academy launched in 2016 and since it launched has supplied student interns to several Georgia productions such as “The Walking Dead,” “Spiderman,” “MacGuyver,”  “Finding Steve McQueen,” “Stranger Things,” and “Day Time Divas.”

As Georgia’s film industry continues to grow, Georgia Film Academy will inevitably grow with it.  To find out more about how you can train to become part of Georgia’s growing film industry, visit www.georgiafilmacademy.org to learn more about the program.  

 

Image of a student in the Georgia Film Academy

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

 

 


Edutainment – Key Wardrobe

Fashion designer working in progress in tailor studio.
Image courtesy of Stockphotos.

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

When watching a film, unless it is a film with obvious costuming such as ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ it can seem to an average audience like actors and actresses just show up in their own attire.  However, everything about film is controlled – even what people wear.  The person or people in charge of costuming the cast are called key wardrobe. This month’s term comes from About.com’s Film and TV Careers site.

Key Wardrobe

The Key Wardrobe is the person in charge of the wardrobe on a set. . .The duties of someone in wardrobe vary from project to project, but essentially the job consists of reading the script and based upon the scenes and character descriptions, the Key Wardrobe person will determine what style and types of clothing a given character will wear.

Notable Film Costume Designers

Eiko Ishioka

Sandy Powell

Milena Canonero

Colleen Atwood

Alexandra Byrne

Janet Patterson

Jany Temime

 

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


Edutainment – Blacklisted

Photo credit - CBS News Archive/Getty Images
Photo credit – CBS News Archive/Getty Images

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

This term is thrown around loosely nowadays.  In general, it usually refers to anyone who has been kept out of something or deprived of something for their beliefs or political stance that is unacceptable by a majority.  However, this word is deeply rooted in the Joseph McCarthy era in which communist ‘witch hunts’ ran rampant.  There was a general fear back in the 1940s that communists were infiltrating Hollywood and as a result, certain film professionals were added to a list called a blacklist and prevented from obtaining work.  This months term comes from BFI Screen Online.

Blacklisted

“[c. 1940s]. . .hundreds of writers, actors, directors and producers were identified as communists and/or pressurized to reveal the names of communist sympathizers. Those who chose not to co-operate with HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) found themselves on a ‘blacklist’ preventing their working with any Hollywood studio.”

 

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


Edutainment – Close Up

Angelina Jolie in 'Maleficent'
Angelina Jolie in ‘Maleficent’

 

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

 

Most writers for television or film will write a script or screenplay on spec.  However, much more advanced writers (or directors) may write what are called shooting scripts.  This type of script writing requires more than just writing skills; rather, it incorporates a firm understanding of filmmaking particularly as it relates to the camera itself.  If you are a new, inexperienced writer, you will not have to worry about shooting scripts; however, there are some times when you will come across a shooting script and wonder what the code words on the page mean.  This month’s term is one which may be found in a shooting script and comes from the Empire Film Studies 101 glossary.

Close Up

“A shot that keeps only the face full in the frame. Perhaps the most important building block in cinematic storytelling.”

 

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


Edutainment – Script v. Screenplay

Film

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edutainment – learning about film and television one word at a time.

These two words – script and screenplay – are used erroneously in the world of film and television interchangeably.  Although these words are very similar, they are  distinct.  The definitions of these words below come from the IMDb Glossary page.

Script

“A general term for a written work detailing story, setting, and dialogue. A script may take the form of a screenplay, shooting script, lined script, continuity script, or  a spec script.”

Screenplay

“A script written to be produced as a movie.”

 

Both of these written documents help an actor and a film crew to remain organized throughout the course of recording a motion picture or television show.  However, as you can see from the definitions above, a screenplay is a description only for film and a script can be used to describe a variety of scripts.  Although a script can describe a screenplay, the opposite isn’t true – a screenplay can’t describe a script unless it is a film script.

“Words are power.  Use your words and your power wisely.”

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop


So You Wanna Be an Indie Producer?

???????????????????????????????
Photo courtesy of Alex Orr

 

 

About a week ago, I – as did other WIFTA members and non-members alike – had the opportunity to listen to the zany presentation by Alex Orr. He filled the room with laughter about making it in independent film but his topic was no laughing matter.  Despite the humorous comments, Alex was spot on when it came to educating the audience about the ins-and-outs of being an Indie producer. One of the first most memorable statements that he made about being a filmaker in general is:

“You do what you want and you don’t have anyone telling you what to do”

From there, he went on to explain some not so positive sides of producing Indie films but still critical to the role. “An Indie film producer wears many hats and may have to perform most if not all of the jobs that may be delegated to others for big budget films.” As he made this statement, he then pulled up a sample film budget, complete with all the detailed line items from a big budget film. This was followed by his reasoning for why most of these things are NOT NEEDED by and Indie producer.

Lecture Photo
Event photo taken by Mel

“Minimal location changes and few scene changes in your film can take costs down tremendously,” said Alex. Many blockbuster films like James Bond films and Fast and Furious films have countless scene changes but these scene changes can drive up costs. Another significant point that Alex made is “if you wait on financing for your film, you will never get it made. Set a date and move forward with what you have.” Many have a tendency to go into analysis paralysis especially when analyzing budgets but going with the flow and not waiting on everything to fall into place is the way to go, according to Alex. “Get friends and family involved in order to keep down the costs of the film but compensate them with things such as providing meals,” Alex pointed out.

As Alex continued down the list, striking out a host of irrelevant line items for Indie producers, he responded to someone’s question about cameras to use. He mentioned the Arie Alexa camera as the one he often uses but he also shocked us when he told us that an Apple iPhone can be used. “With a zoom nearby you can sync the sound while you capture the image and cut it in editing software like iMovie,” explained Alex.

Alex ended the night by reminding us about how short an Indie budget should be. “While a big film budget will be generally 44 pages, Indie budget should be somewhere around 4.” He also reminded us that legal fees is one of those things that can be striked from the list of things needed in the budget; however, Indie film producers should make some serious considerations with regard to payroll or this could result in unwanted legal action. The audience digressed into this topic of payroll in film. One important point that was made is that it is important for an Indie producer to decide whether to use a payroll company to pay crew as independent contractors or to pay crews as employees using a 1099. Interchanging the two inadvertently can result in actions taken by the Department of Labor. This can be a really sticky issue as one audience member pointed out from her experience.

We ended the night on a great note. Alex took some questions from individual audience members and the remaining lingering audience members mingled. Those who were leaving also enjoyed a great treat, courtesy of WIFTA, from a place called Vintage Frozen Custard. Mmm. What a night filled with treats indeed – both Alex’s advice on Indie film and the custard.

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

 


Spelman & Morehouse College – Paving Pathways to Hollywood

2014 photo
Photo courtesy of Keith Arthur Bolden

 

There is a lot of film activity taking place in Georgia. From Vampire Diaries, Madea, Anchorman 2 to the latest edition to film and television chronicles – The Originals – Georgia is getting into the game. It’s one thing to be in the game and another thing completely to stay in the game. How does anyone sustain growth in any successful market? Well, one pertinent way is to have useful and timely information and this usually comes from education.

As Georgia continues to film on location, build new production companies and other activities related to film, it can’t forget about training locals to fill positions in the local market. Spelman and Morehouse College is doing its due diligence and helping to create future stars. This week, Reel Focus will explore Spelman and Morehouse’s contribution to film and television by speaking to Keith Arthur Bolden – Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama and Dance at Spelman College – about their theater programs.

Keith, welcome to our blog. Tell us in general, about Spelman and Morehouse Theater programs and what it provides to students.

2014-09-27 14.51.27
Photo courtesy of Keith Arthur Bolden

The Drama and Dance program at Spelman College provides students with a real world theatre experience in a liberal arts setting. A lot of people don’t know this but Morehouse doesn’t have a drama program (they do have a wonderful film and emerging media program). So the young men at Morehouse actually earn their acting chops at Spelman College. We are giving our young people a taste of everything that the art has to offer from front of house to technical aspects to actually acting in full productions. My focus since being here has been to prepare our students for graduate school if they want a future in the arts. We prepare them exceptionally well for further study as well as real world application.

How did you get involved in theater and eventually begin teaching theater?

Keith Full length
Keith Arthur Bolden

I was a freshman at Fresno State University as a journalism major. They had just recruited a young professor – Thomas Whit Ellis – to establish a black theatre program. His first production was George C. Wolfe’s, The Colored Museum. Thomas had to recruit folks for this production and he’d come to University 101 classes to do this. I auditioned and I was hooked after being cast. I had no idea what theatre was or how to achieve it. Ironically I wrote a play about the birth of Christ when I was 8 years old and I did that never having seen a play. So I guess it’s always been there, but it was never nurtured. Theatre/acting has given my life purpose. The only reason I was a journalism major was to be a film critic because I never thought that I could actually be onscreen doing what I know I loved…little did I know.

Are Spelman and Morehouse preparing students for opportunities in the local market along with opportunities in places like California and New York?

I think that we give our students some tools to make a choice about what direction they want to go in the field. But they should always know that the training never stops. Just like a doctor or lawyer, there is always studying and training to be had. Even I still get coaching some times. Some of our favorite artists still receive coaching and they should know that. I am still a working actor and have work consistently since relocating here to Atlanta. I have lived in New York and Los Angeles and I am very aware of the temperament and landscape of each market and how rapidly it changes, specifically with emerging new media.

A lot of film and television shows are being shot on location here in Georgia as you know and there are a few schools around town that have had the opportunity to have their campus as a backdrop for production. Tell us what would be great features for Spelman and Morehouse, making it a great location for filming.

We have several locations that are excellent of course for classroom scenes, but we also have apartment style dormitories, cafeterias, executive meeting rooms, labs, theatres, parking structures and lots, stadiums, gyms and workout facilities, the list goes on and on. Anyone can film almost any type of scene here at Spelman or throughout the entire Atlanta University Center.

 

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

 


Spotlight on Film in Atlanta – Atlanta Screenwriter’s Group

Logo
Logo courtesy of Martin Kelley

 

 

You may be one of many people who live in Atlanta who has a dream of getting into film or television but you are not sure of how to get started. Well, rest assured that you are not alone and that there are some people around town that are in the same predicament as you. However, rather than simply dreaming and wishing they can be in the industry, these people are doing something about it.

One such group that has formed and is spearheading stardom for several Atlantans is the Atlanta Screenwriter’s Group. This group, under the leadership of Martin Kelley, is a group that meets twice a month, providing support to screenwriters who are paving a way to Hollywood from Atlanta. Martin Kelly, is no stranger to Hollywood. He has and is still achieving success without a California zip code. He is not only successful in his own right, but is also helping other screenwriters in Atlanta to achieve success.

Thank you Mr. Kelley for taking time to share your group’s story with Reel Focus. Congratulations on your success as a screenwriter and most importantly, thank you for reaching back to show other aspiring screenwriters how to achieve success in the industry. First, tell us what is your background in the film and television industry?

I’m a screenwriter and producer primarily but I have worked on independent film sets for over 15 years now in nearly every capacity except cinematography. I have had six feature scripts produced and released; my last two Immigration Tango and Step Off were released by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate respectively a couple years ago and enjoyed a nice run on cable since then. My latest feature film blackhats will be released later this year so I hope everyone will be on the lookout for that. I founded the Atlanta Screenwriters Group let’s just say “over 10 years ago” to help screenwriters connect and help each other improve.

Photo 2
Photo courtesy of Martin Kelley

What was the motivation behind developing such a group?

The original goal was just to connect with people who shared an interest in screenwriting in Atlanta. We started as five guys meeting at a bar in the Highlands and have grown into an organization that has had hundreds of members attending throughout the years. Early on, we decided that the best way we could help each other is by offering a workshop environment designed to allow writers to improve their craft through a supportive group that was willing to give constructive feedback.
Over the years, that commitment has paid off for many writers. We’ve had a lot of success stories in terms of script sales, contest winners, and members getting their films made and released. But I think the main testament to our success is that we’re still going very strong after “over 10 years”. We meet twice a month and attendance is consistently solid.

Photo 1
Photo courtesy of Martin Kelley

Paint a picture for our readers. What is it like to attend your meetings?

At most meetings, we have a table read for a feature length screenplay – all the parts assigned to different readers and someone responsible for narrating the action. After the script read is completed, we provide feedback to the writer. The feedback is structured to address aspects like Characters, Dialogue, Structure and other considerations. The feedback is designed to be constructive and related to the script that the writer has set out to write rather than give the writer opinions on what they should have written.

Where do you see your organization in the future as it relates to this booming local Atlanta industry?

Well, our organization will remain a valuable resource to writers who want honest and constructive feedback on their work in order to improve their craft. How it relates to the current boom in production in Atlanta isn’t clear. In fact, there are likely no correlations to be made as long as the GREENLIGHT power for content remains in Los Angeles and New York. What will make a difference and has for some of our members is if creative content originates from Georgia. The more we get content creators like Tyler Perry to headquarter their production companies here, the more likely local writers will have access to getting their material in front of the creative executives. Otherwise, it remains a pretty daunting task to make waves in the industry from Atlanta. It’s certainly not impossible but the degree of difficulty is higher. Should Atlanta continue to grow in that area, the prospects will certainly improve for local screenwriters.

For more information about Atlanta’s Screenwriter’s Group, visit http://www.atlscript.org.


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

 


New York Film Academy – Training the Stars

Al Pacino

 

Since the advent of film and television, there has been a need to educate film professionals in the trade.  One such school that understands this need and understands the need for affordable film education is New York Film Academy.  In order to tell us more about this unique institution that is located not just in New York but around the globe, I have teamed up with Frank Pasquine, Director of Social Media at New York Film Academy in order to tell us more about this school.  Frank is no stranger to the industry.  He is a freelance writer and  award-winning screenwriter – his work having been featured on ABC’s Good Morning AmericaHuffington PostRotten TomatoesScreenRantPaste Magazine and more. His most recent comedy script, Rusty Trombone, won Best Feature Screenplay at the All Sports LA Film Festival.

Frank congratulations on your most recent award for your screenplay and thank you for joining us.  Tell us about New York Film Academy and what it does for students?

The New York Film Academy is a premier hands-on school that focuses on the visual and performing arts with short-term, long-term and degree programs in filmmaking, acting, screenwriting, producing, animation, game design, musical theatre, cinematography, broadcast journalism, digital editing, photography, graphic design and illustration.   Since its inception in 1992, the New York Film Academy has not only expanded its programs, but also its locations around the world, offering courses in Los Angeles, South Beach, Disney Studios, Sydney, Gold Coast, Abu Dhabi, Florence, Moscow and more.

 

Is financial aid available to those who qualify?

The New York Film Academy offers FAFSA and a Need Based Tuition Discount to all qualifying students. We also have a financial aid staff to assist students with their potential financial aid availability.  In addition, NYFA is a military-friendly school with many of its programs approved for GI Bill benefits, including the Post – 9/11 GI Bill. Both the New York City and Los Angeles campuses are approved for the training of veterans and eligible persons under the provisions of the GI Bill. Those who are not fully covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill funding will receive a 15% discount on tuition.

Is it possible to take classes online?

The New York Film Academy offers an online course for those interested in learning the craft of screenwriting.  Those interested should refer to the following site:  https://www.nyfa.edu/online-screenwriting/

 

As you have said, NYFA is located in many places around the world.  Is there a possibility that it can expand into the Atlanta market?

While the New York Film Academy is open to expand its locations domestically and abroad, there are no current plans to open a campus in Atlanta.

Students 1

 

 

 

 

Students 2

 

 

 

 

 

Student 3

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about New York Film Academy’s programs and admissions, visit www.nyfa.edu.

 

Photos courtesy of Frank Pasquine.

 


 

Read more Reel Focus blog articles

 

Become a member of WIFTA

 

Become a WIFTA Sponsor

 

Donate to WIFTA

 

Attend an upcoming WIFTA event or workshop

 


Local Performing Arts School – Callanwolde

Local Performing Arts School - Callanwolde

I remember that my first glimpse into the world of film and television – well, at least outside of watching my favorite actors and shows on television and at the movies – was in middle school when I attended a performing arts school. I still recall my drama teacher reminding us that whenever we feel paralyzed by stage fright to simply look above the audiences’ heads instead of at their eyes to avoid feeling nervous. I also recall the countless dance and band recitals that I attended, making me no stranger to the stage.

All of us in the film and television world started somewhere, whether it was a performing arts school or a place where acting, dance or writing classes are held. I’m sure as you read, this is probably taking you back to a time when your favorite teacher, or not so favorite teacher, pressured you into being your absolute best on stage so that you could have a career in entertainment. Some of us have made it big while others of us, like myself, have made many detours in the process; but, nonetheless, we are still passionate about this industry.

In this blog, I have decided to pay homage to one of Atlanta’s finest art centers, which is designed primarily for the purpose of helping those of us in the entertainment industry to get our start. My niche in this industry is writing and often it is very hard for us writers to find places that support our talent; therefore, it is for this reason that I am placing emphasis on educational opportunities offered at this venue. I have collaborated with Peggy Johnson, Executive Director of Callanwolde, to tell us more about this enchanting mansion of budding talent in metro Atlanta.

Peggy, I have to admit, I wasn’t aware that this place exists in Atlanta. It is through my involvement with the Atlanta Film Festival that I found out about this jewel of Atlanta. I discovered that the screenwriter’s retreat for the Atlanta Film Festival has been held here historically which piqued my interest. For readers who also may be just as baffled as I am that such a place exists here in Atlanta, tell us the great things about this art center, both historically and currently.

Callanwolde is a beautiful historic site built in 1917 by Charles Howard Candler (son of Asa Candler, founder of the Coca Cola Company.) Charles Howard Candler was also a President of Coca Cola and a trustee of Emory for over 30 years. His family loved the arts and they always wanted the estate to be a fine arts center. Today DeKalb County owns the estate and the Callanwolde Foundation’s mission is to preserve the estate and offer fine arts to the community via classes, concerts, festivals, gallery exhibits and more. Today we also offer tours Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. til 4 p.m. Our Callan Café is open Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. til 7 p.m.

Tell us what you offer budding artists in terms of education at your facility.

Our classes range from dance to music to pottery to the visual arts. We also offer classes in fiction and poetry writing and partner with many nonprofits and organizations in Metro Atlanta. In January 2015 we will start our music recording program and our Director of Recording will be Grammy Award winner Phil Tan. Our programs are portfolio and certificate based so you can take a class here and there or be on a path to achieve more.

Why is it important for us in the film and television industry to pledge our support for organizations such as yours?

[The reason is because] Callanwolde is embracing what is happening in Atlanta with the music and film industry. We have had 4 filmings this past year, offer classes in film, photography, and of course now offer classes in music, songwriting, composition and music recording. We are growing to reflect Atlanta and offer instruction and scholarship programs to teach all ages from children to adult. We want to teach skills, technique, and give our community the arts. Many of our classes are not taught in the public or private school systems and these are classes that are very important in the arts.

Are there any exciting events coming up that you care to share with our readers?

We have a marvelous Halloween Concert Event on October 31st – Night on Callanwolde Mountain. There will be trick or treating, a costume contest, pumpkin carving contest, food trucks, cash bar, and a concert by the Callanwolde Concert Band and Atlanta Braves Organist Matthew Kaminski playing the Callanwolde priceless organ.

http://callanwolde.org/event/halloween-night-callanwolde-mountain/

Of course we also have the very well known Christmas at Callanwolde – A Christmas Destination and Designer Showroom. This will be a 16 day event beginning December 1st. There will be a VIP Party, Cocoa and Caroling, Family Movie Night, Tours, Breakfast with Santa, Teddy Bear Tea and more.

For more info, visit http://callanwolde.org/christmas-at-callanwolde/