On the third day of the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival, a selection of dynamic films by six charismatic, female directors was presented to an audience of excited movie fans. The New Mavericks: Female Directors short film showcase, held at the 7 Stages Theatre in Little Five Points, was preceded by a WIFTA sponsored reception that gave festival goers the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine and mingle with both filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike before welcoming the talents of some of the indie scenes up and coming stars.
The featured directors hailed from all over the globe and represented films from Greece, Denmark, Canada and the United States. The subject matter of their shorts ranged from adolescent angst and imaginary friends, to aspiring pop stars and harsh living on the Navajo plains. A brief Q&A followed the screening and gave the public the chance to hear insightful feedback from the directors and to also give much deserved praise for a job well done.
Many congratulations go out to all of the evening’s directors for bringing such diverse and beautiful female-centered films to the screen!
Atlanta is shaking things up in the world of film with two new executives on the block – Janlatae Mullins and Gabrielle Pickle. Janlatae is a director and Gabrielle is a producer at Brothers Young Production (BroYoPro) – a production company owned by Matthew and Jared Young located in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia. Along with their production company, these women have worked with quite a few stars: Mo’Nique, Burt Reynolds, and Tom Sizemore to name a few. At present, they are working rigorously on their first film together – Untapped – a moving story about overcoming inner demons through contemporary dance. These ladies are on the rise in the Atlanta film community and we are certainly looking forward to more from them.
MC: What motivated you to pursue a career in film?
Janlatae Mullins: Ever since I was a child, I can remember being inspired by images and interactions between people. I called it “moment watching”. A grandfather sitting on a bench holding his crying grandchild with a scraped knee; a husband and wife holding hands; a child and his pet running in a field as the sun shone on their backs, the wind rippling through their hair, and their laughter squealing in the air. Those are the moments that inspired me. I felt like people needed to see what I was seeing – they needed to feel this heightened sense of awareness.
I believe that film has the power to change lives. When I watched movies like The Color Purple, Boys in the Hood, Singin’ in the Rain and West Side Story, I felt changed – I felt alive and well. Every sense in me stood at attention and wanted to live. I want people to feel the same thing when they watch movies I make.
I went to my parents when I was about 6 or 7 and I told them what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I either wanted to be a director or a maid. I realize now that my desire to be a maid was just my inner desire to take care of people; to make sure that they’re happy. Over the years, I’ve realized that my desire to serve others is one thing that has made me a good director. You can’t be a good leader without knowing how to serve first.
Gabrielle Pickle: I’ve always been a storyteller. As a child, I used to weave intricate stories together for my siblings and I made short films every Sunday afternoon on our huge VHS camcorder. Years later, while pursuing my Master’s degree, I spent time living in northern Indonesia helping to coordinate education, healthcare and co-op programs. I distinctly remember sitting in the dirt across from the pregnant wife of a former rebel soldier, hearing her explain the struggles of growing up during a war and of giving birth to her first born in the woods while hiding from approaching soldiers. Her story was unique, but her fears and joys were those that every woman shares. As I sat across from her, I was overwhelmed with the realization that stories have the power to unite us across backgrounds, races, nationalities, and income levels. I knew then that storytelling was my calling. Shortly thereafter, a job with a non-profit introduced me to film and a year after that I produced my first project. And that was all it took – I was hooked!
MC: What challenges have you faced as a “woman in film?”
JM: Thankfully, I’ve never really faced challenges as a woman in film. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that I won’t face any in the future. I just grew up with wonderful parents that fostered an environment in which the buck stopped with me. I was taught that any challenges that anyone faces – male, female, black, white – it’s their job to break them down. I’ve never let me being a woman or other people’s ideas of what a woman filmmaker should be define me. I just see myself as a person that has a unique voice – someone that has something to say.
GP: I’ve faced prejudice as a female in other job fields, but never in film. I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced, and still struggle with, is producing with excellence while not losing who I am as a woman. I am a workaholic, like most women I’ve met in this industry, and I absolutely love what I do. It’s a constant struggle to protect time for the things that make me who I am, like my faith, my family and friends, and my quirky hobbies.
What advice would you give to women who are pursuing careers in film?
JM: Make friends! Make tons of friends. Your success in this business is truly based on the circle you know. People want to be a part of a team that inspires them – that pushes them to do more. When you make your epic first romantic comedy, thriller, or heart wrenching drama, your “friends” will be the ones to support you. Friendship is however a give and take. Give your heart, time and creativity to other people’s projects and it will pay off in the long run.
GP: Find a people who believe in you and share your dream for film – then stick with them! Jan and I would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the team at Brothers Young Productions. Those guys have challenged us to grow, paid for us to get training, pushed us to excellence, and fought side by side every day to help us achieve our collective dream of making quality films with an important message.
Why did you choose Atlanta to pursue your career as opposed to other places more popular for film?
JM: I was born and raised here. I believe in the filmmaking culture that exists in Atlanta. There’s a real sense of “We’re just here for the art. If you have a dream, we’ll support it.” I’m not saying that this feeling doesn’t exist in other places, but I’ve seen it best here in the South. Southern hospitality is our birthright (along with sweet tea and family). I’ve grown up alongside some really talented filmmakers and want to see them succeed. I want to be a part of their journey. Brothers Young Productions has been integral to my growth. They’ve challenged me in every way to be a better filmmaker, a better visionary and a better business woman. If I had not stayed in GA, I would not have had that amazing opportunity.
The Brothers Young team are the most talented people I’ve come across. With such great hearts, integrity, and character not just for the art, but for people, they’ve not only made their dreams come true, but helped others achieve their own. It’s hard to walk away from that. Their friendship and leadership is part of the reason I am sitting here today and I am so thankful for that. That love and sense of family is definitely a perk of being in Atlanta. It’s a southern thang.
GP: I didn’t move to Atlanta for the film scene. It’s more like the Atlanta film community found me and won me over! As soon as I uttered the words, “I’m interested in film,” local actors, screenwriters and directors invited me on set, gave me opportunities to learn the craft and offered me jobs. The past few years have been a wild and incredible ride into a full-time film career. The opportunities for a Producer in Atlanta are many and I simply can’t fathom being anywhere else!
“Need I remind you, 007, that you have a license to kill, not to break the traffic rules.” Goldeneye
“Well, you see, I uh, I sort of have a problem seeing through lead.” Superman
“. . . Bruce Wayne why are you dressed up like Batman. . .Because he is Batman you moron.” Batman Returns
See a common pattern yet? Well if the quotes aren’t ringing a bell and the large sign above isn’t stimulating your mental energy then I will tell you. These are quotes from some of our all-time favorite films and Pinewood Studios is the production company that brought them to us. So what’s the big deal about me blogging about them? I will tell you what the big deal is. . .they have a new location here in Fayetteville, Georgia! Can’t you feel the excitement pulsating from me to you through cyberspace?
I have been in Georgia for approximately 18 years now and I’ve seen trends ebb and flow but one thing that seems to be here to stay is the growth of film in this state. This is exciting news for those of us who are involved in the film industry because we are witnessing the birth of a new trend – very powerful, top-billing production studios springing up all over metro Atlanta. Pinewood Studios is indeed a sight to see; however, I could only capture this picture for your viewing while I was out on one of my urban escapades because it is a heavily secured area. Nonetheless, every time I look at this photo, I breathe a sigh of relief that after traveling 30 miles to my destination, I was at least able to capture this image for all to see.
What does this mean for Atlanta? Well it is hard to tell; but, it certainly seems to me that the tax incentives in this state seem to be increasing the interest of film producers across the nation and around the world. Please share with us your thoughts on this trend? Do you think that this trend will go boom or bust?
________ Campbell, M. (1995). Goldeneye [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: MGM/UA. Retrieved from www.imdb.com on April 2, 2014.
Donner, R. (1978). Superman [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: Warner Brothers. Retrieved from www.imdb.com on April 2, 2014.
Burton, T. (1992). Batman Returns [Motion Picture]. United Kingdom: Warner Brothers. Retrieved from www.imdb.com on April 2, 2014.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Remember this from the Bill of Rights of the Constitution that we learned back in school. This is one of those things that we take for granted because we in the U.S. are such a free thinking, democratic society. Many countries around the world don’t have freedom of speech, let alone freedom of press; but we do and we are a remarkable country because of it.
Ok, enough of my philosophical rambling. The purpose of this blog is to reintroduce readers to a very important form of free speech that I feel is underutilized in this day and age. It was developed in the 1970s – a time in America in which people were roaring with passion for the right to demonstrate their Constitutional Rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. This development in television is known as Public Access Television.
For this blog, I am collaborating with Adrian Coleman-Tyler, who serves on the board of directors for People TV, to tell us more about this resource that many often forget about as an alternative way to “break in” to television.
Thank you Adrian for taking the opportunity to talk with us about Public Access Television – known in Atlanta as People TV. Adrian, for starters, tell us more about Public Access Television in Atlanta and how it can help those of us who want to begin a career in television.
People TV, Inc. (PTV) is an Atlanta based non-profit organization that manages the public access television channel for the City of Atlanta, Comcast Channel 24. Founded in 1986, PTV operates a media production center in Midtown Atlanta that houses two television studios, video and post production facilities. Our mission is to empower and encourage Atlanta residents and non-profit organizations to exercise their First Amendment rights and facilitate public engagement through the medium of television. In addition to managing the public access channel, PTV is an educational center offering low cost workshops in television and video production including non-linear editing and digital camera.
People TV is home to a diverse community of media makers. Many come to us with little or no video or television experience; still others are award winning filmmakers or working television professionals in search of a creative platform. Our producers reflect a diversity of backgrounds – cab drivers, broadcast journalists, graduate students, teenagers and grandmothers; but, they share the common goal to express their story, their way.
Tell us why People TV has been and is still such a big deal to the local Atlanta community.
People TV, like public access centers around the country, is where aspiring musicians, comedians, journalists, actresses, and video producers/directors come to get their start or develop their ‘reel’. In our 28 year history, Atlanta’s notables in every field (civil rights, politics, banking, education, religion, arts and more) have connected with People TV, Inc. in some way – taken a workshop, produced a TV program, appeared as a guest or host, served on the Board of Directors or volunteered to teach a workshop. As proud as we are of the who’s who, we’re equally proud of our volunteer producers who aspire simply to create programming to express their views, faith, art or culture and engage with Atlanta audiences.
What is the cost of producing programming on public access television or other services offered by People TV?
People TV, Inc. makes every effort to keep our fees affordable to keep our services accessible, most under $100. Atlanta residents are given priority access to the channel and our programs including workshops. Non-Atlanta residents may apply but availability may be limited and fees may be higher. Persons interested in our programs should visit our website for calendar of events.
How do viewers watch programming on People TV and how can those interested in being on People TV get involved?
Before I proceed with answering that question Melisha, I just want to say thanks to People TV viewers who have supported us for 28 years! Our goal in 2014 is to get Atlanta talking, spark dialogue and connect communities. Now to answer the first part of this question, in order to watch People TV, Comcast subscribers in the City of Atlanta may watch on Channel 24; or, viewers can opt to watch it online at our website www.peopletv.org.
To answer the second part of your question, People TV will be accepting programming applications for next channel season in May. Those who want to be considered can visit our website for upcoming workshops and events or check our programming guide. Viewers may also connect with People TV on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peopletvAtlanta
How is television like this sustained, i.e. through community support, sponsorship, etc.?
The City of Atlanta is fortunate to have had a history of progressive leadership who have supported public access television since the 1980’s for Atlanta residents. People TV, Inc. is supported primarily through a contract with the City of Atlanta, supplemented with community support, sponsorships and grants.
Thanks Melisha and WIFTA for your interest in People TV, Inc. In closing, I’d believe George Stoney, often referred as the “Father of Public Access Television” words best describe the value in public access television.
“We look on cable as a way of encouraging public action, not just access. Social change comes with a combination of use of media and people getting out on the streets or getting involved. And we find that if people make programs together and put them on the local channel, that gets them involved.”
Atlanta is an emerging film town, so, naturally any news – big or small – that I find out about film around town thrills me. So, let me tell you about the next big thing that I found: Atlanta Movie Tours! Yes, this is one of those things that you can add to your bucket list hall of fame because it is indeed a great way to learn about film production in Atlanta. For this blog, I have teamed up with Patti Davis, one of the founders of Atlanta Film Tours, to tell us more about this exciting opportunity for film enthusiasts.
So obviously Atlanta is becoming a film town – well at least it is obvious to some us who live here. For our readers who don’t reside in Atlanta and for those who do reside in Atlanta but are still in the dark about this fact, tell us why you developed your company and how it relates to this booming film business.
Carrie Sagel Burns and I started Atlanta Movie Tours out of our mutual ‘fandom’ for The Walking Dead. Carrie was already taking friends from out of town to The Walking Dead filming locations and I thought that this would make a terrific business. Two years later, seeing how our business is bringing guests from all over the world to Atlanta, we are still learning how we can contribute to Georgia filming tourism and continuing to add to the economic development of the city we both love.
Tell our readers about the experience. Is this a tour of a single place or is it a combination of places to go? Or better still; whet our appetite for what a tour is like.
While all four of our tours follow a similar format, they vary quite a bit. They are as follows:
For Zombie Lovers. . .
enough of the Zombies? Then our Big Zombie Tours Part 1 & 2 are just the thing for you. Board our luxury coach and enter the apocalypse with our Walker guides straight from the show. You will trace the footsteps of your favorite characters from The Walking Dead and Zombieland, while learning about being on set with the stars.
For Antebellum South Lovers. . .
Do you love the old South and Gone With The Wind? Then you will love Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind Tour. Miss Mitchell herself guides you through her Atlanta as you visit the important spots in her life. This tour feels like a one-woman Broadway show as Miss Mitchell regales you with stories from her past and takes you to the apartment where she wrote her only published novel and other exciting locations. Vouchers for this tour also allow you to visit the Road To Tara Museum in Jonesboro and the MariettaGone With The Wind Museum, as well as gaining you re-entry to the Margaret Mitchell House.
For All the Rest. . .Lovers. . .
Are you a big movie buff? If so, you will want to take our Atlanta Film Sites Tour. See locations where hundreds of movies and television shows have filmed, from “Driving Miss Daisy” to “The Blind Side” and so many more. This is a great way to see the city and don’t worry if you can’t recall the scenes for the films, we show you clips to refresh your memory!
All tours are 3-hours in length, with trivia played for prizes, free bottled water on our coaches and a complimentary souvenir group photo.
Does your tour include visiting places that are currently filming on location and those that have already been filmed; and, what is the extent of your territory that the tour covers?
It is our policy to never intrude on live filming, although sometimes it happens by accident since there are so many productions around the city. When this occurs, we think of it as a happy surprise and of course, our guests love it. Our tours go as far north as the Cobb Energy Center and as far south as Senoia, GA, depending on which tour you choose.
Do you see film as a thing that is here to stay and if so, how do you anticipate your company will grow along with the growth of film?
We definitely see the growth of film here in Atlanta, and Georgia in general, continuing for quite some time and really spiking over the next few years. Pinewood Studios joining us from the U.K. will make its facility the largest film studio in the U.S. and their presence in the state will continue to draw productions and television shows to the area for many years.
We saw a 450% growth in our second year in business and our company will continue to grow as film producers continue to utilize Atlanta and the surrounding area. We have a few projects in the works that should really delight future guests and we look forward to making those announcements shortly. We’re always coming up with new and exciting things for our guests to do!
It is a great honor to be able to share with WIFTA – Reel Focus readers another interesting jewel in Atlanta. It gladdens my heart to know that there are a lot of interesting things taking place in film right in our own backyard that many may not know about. For this blog, I have collaborated with Li Wong – Executive Director for the Asian American Film Festival – to tell us more about this amazing event taking place annually in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thank you Li for participating in this blog. I read on your website that your goal is to bring awareness to Atlantans about Asian Pacific culture and this is also what I aim to do with this blog. I wasn’t aware that this event has been taking place annually for 10 years now and I’m sure there are others who are also unaware of this event. Tell our readers more about the origins of this event and what has been taking place for the past 10 years.
[Atlanta’s Asian Film Festival originated when] a group of local Asian film enthusiasts and volunteers decided to launch a festival to create awareness of Asian films. The goal of this organization is to promote Asian heritage and understanding through films. Over the past ten years, the festival has become a platform for Asian film makers to showcase their works. The festival also provides an opportunity to young film makers to gain exposure for their work.
How do you feel about the current representation of Asian Americans in film and television in mainstream media?
Asian American representation in mainstream media are not balanced and objective. It does not truly reflect the actual shifting of changes in the American social landscapes. However, the internet does provide an outlet or platform for Asian Americans; there are several successful web series, web videos, and shorts produced by Asian Americans. It is a true reflection of the changing landscape and the future of entertainment to come.
Usually film festivals are only films to be viewed at various public venues. Does this event incorporate other cultural events during the festival such as Asian cuisines?
Yes it does. The festival incorporates the AAFF Premiere Night , which is the opening night of the Film Festival and features a screening and “Taste of Asia” – a banquet of Asian cuisines representing food from all over Asia. “Taste of Asia” cuisines are made possible with food prepared by Asian restaurants in metro Atlanta area.
Are the films that are included in the festival produced by local filmmakers or does the festival showcase films by Asians from around the world?
Films featured at AAFF range from independent local film makers to films from Asian producers. AAFF encourage and support local film makers to showcase their work.
It’s no secret that Georgia is getting into the game when it comes to film. When I started learning about what’s going on in film in Georgia over a year ago, I found that we were ranked at number four in the list of states for film making. This year, I found out that we inched our way up to number two, right behind Louisiana. The South is doing big things in film and this is so exciting! But how can we Georgians distinguish ourselves truly as a film making town? I believe it begins by having the educational facilities here that improve the skills of local talent to be able to meet the demands of this growing market. This summer, Reel Focus will be showcasing educational blogs that relate to various facets of film and film making. We are kicking off the season with a local opportunity for screenwriters and I have joined forces with a very prominent leader in the screenwriting community in Georgia – Michael Lucker – to tell us more about this unique form of writing. For those who don’t always know the name behind screenplays for a film, Michael Lucker has brought to us films like “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Mulan II,” and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”
Mr. Lucker, I first learned about you from the Atlanta Film Festival website. You were listed as one of the mentors for the screenwriter’s portion of the festival. Aside from your involvement with the Atlanta Film Festival, tell us more about yourself and what you do in metro Atlanta.
ML: Well, first and foremost, I am a screenwriter. After ten years in Hollywood writing for DreamWorks, Disney, Paramount, Fox, Universal and anyone else who’d pay for my groceries, I happily returned home to the tall trees and green grass of Atlanta. Here I have found a tremendous appetite for learning the craft of screenwriting and feel fortunate to pass along to the growing film community the lessons passed on to me by some of the best minds in the business. The folks at the Atlanta Film Festival have been terrific and kindly offered to have me be part of the festival and to host my weekend workshops. Atlanta has also served as a great home for me to write, direct and produce a good bit of television.
In your opinion, how critical is the screenwriter to Hollywood?
ML: Of course, there wouldn’t be anything without the screenwriter. It all starts with the idea. However, the ability to bring that concept to life in an engaging, emotional and marketable 120 pages that will appeal to millions is where the real work takes place. Mastering that craft takes a very talented, disciplined and passionate lot. Once a student of mine asked “Does the screenwriter write what everyone says?” I said yes. “And what everyone does?” Yes. “And the story and all the scenes?” Yes and yes. To which he asked … “Then what does the director do?” Everyone laughed, but it’s true. We provide the roadmap.
Almost everyone’s advice regarding stardom in Hollywood involves going to LA or New York. Is this always the case for screenwriters or can screenwriters get a start wherever they are and build from there?
ML: You can write from anywhere. But once it’s written, it is indeed important to have your boots on the ground in Los Angeles and New York to hock your wares to the commercial producers, networks and studios. Agents are looking for writers to represent that haven’t just written one script, but are interested in writing script after script. This requires them to be available to meet on a fairly regular basis with the buyers. This is especially true for new writers building a reputation and a career. That said, the Indy market affords writers the opportunity to base elsewhere, but then they’re faced with the task of pounding the pavement locally to find producers or financiers themselves. Either way, you need a solid pair of kicks.
Why did you decide to develop your business here instead of LA?
ML: I love Atlanta – enjoy living here. And, I like waking up to Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio. And frankly, there are a lot of incredible screenwriting instructors in LA — most of which I’ve learned from. There are not a lot of great screenwriting instructors in Atlanta. However, there is a wealth of creative talent here. I’ve always dreamed Atlanta could serve as a home for telling great stories in cinema. And with the incredible boom of production here now, hopefully that will be a reality someday soon. If I can somehow play a small role in helping southerners tell their stories, better, faster and share them with the world, I can sleep better at night, knowing perhaps I made a small difference and done a bit of what I was sent here to do.
Tell fellow screenwriters how they can get more training through your school.
ML: Right now we’re offering a weekend workshop that offers all the nuts and bolts one needs to know to write a great screenplay. Our next workshop is May 24-25. I’m also available for private consultation should anyone be interested. Hope to see you soon.
Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) is Georgia’s “free” television. Most of us know of public broadcasting for our favorite childhood shows like Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Aside from these great classics, most of us find other great shows on this channel. One of my favorite shows that helps me to escape from reality all in the comfort of my own home is Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door. For those not familiar with this show, Steve tells a tale about various places in Europe and goes to mainstream places in Europe with small tour groups visiting small, not-so-commercial places in Europe. It allows for a much more intimate exploration of fantastic places in Europe. Aside from kids shows and travel shows, GPB also has many unique documentaries covering wars, social issues, and historical topics. They also have one of my favorite news shows – Frontline – which covers so many provocative news topics that you probably wouldn’t see on mainstream news stations.
I can go on and on about how much enthusiasm I have for this television station but I’m going to digress and allow someone from the station tell us more about it. For this blog, I have collaborated with Mandy Wilson, Communications Manager at GPB and Pamela Roberts, Executive Producer at GPB – to tell us more about how awesome this television station is.
MC: I enjoy GPB! It is the home of some of my childhood favorites, travel shows, food shows, and great documentaries. If it weren’t for this station, I wouldn’t know about some of the exciting things in history or current events that aren’t discussed on primetime TV. Enough about my enthusiasm for GPB – tell our readers why GPB is important to Atlanta.
MW: GPB’s mission is to educate, inform and entertain, and we carry out our mission by delivering thought-provoking, insightful programs like Frontline, Morning Edition, American Experience and All Things Considered. We also develop educational resources and original programs such as Georgia Outdoors, Georgia Traveler and 37 Weeks: Sherman on the March, while working with statewide and regional partners on multi-platform initiatives that enable us to enhance the relevance of our programming and better serve the needs of our communities.
In addition to our national footprint from PBS and NPR, GPB also brings a Georgia perspective to the world with the national airings of GPB Original documentaries like Augusta’s Master Plan and Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, which swept the 2012 Southeast Regional EMMY® Awards with wins in five categories, including historical documentary.
GPB Original programs like Georgia Traveler and Georgia Outdoors capture our state’s people, heritage and natural beauty and also offer supplemental education materials correlated to Georgia Performance Standards. GPB highlights community life with weekly coverage of high school football games on television and on the web, along with coverage of the annual GHSA Football, Basketball and Cheerleading Championships.
The annual broadcast of over 3,000 hours of trusted, commercial-free PBS Kids programs such as Sesame Street, Super Why!, and Dinosaur Train assure parents and caregivers that GPB is a safe haven for children. And while this has been a cornerstone of content offered for our young learners, GPB also offers original content at gpb.org that includes the games “Dinoventures” and “Salsa!.”
Additional educational multimedia content delivered though gpb.org includes digital assets for use in the classroom, such as video clips, curriculum, writing prompts and lesson plans, all aligned to Georgia Performance Standards. Over 80,000 Georgia educators regularly use GPB assets.
How does GPB determine what is in the television lineup? Is educational programming the only types of shows that can be on this network?
GPB receives much of its programming from PBS, but it also has access to programming from American Public Television, the BBC, and others. GPB produces a significant amount of original series like “Georgia Outdoors,” and “Georgia Traveler,” as well as original documentaries. We also work from time to time with Georgia-based independent producers for content. What goes into the schedule and where is based on careful analysis of audience response ranging from Nielsen ratings, to phone calls, letters, and emails received, as well as public financial response during membership campaigns, and of course what – in GPB’s best judgment – is important for audiences across the state to have exposure to. And though there is certainly an educational component of some degree to most of what GPB broadcasts, it’s not all an educational mold, but represent a true alternative to what is available on commercial television.
If I am not mistaken, this network has a lot of British programs that air. We have a sister organization of Women in Film and Television in London. Inform us and them of how you choose shows for your British segment of GPB.
Just to piggyback off of the last point I made about shows not all fitting the educational mold, we have the British segments which are comedies that air on Saturday nights. Decision making for the purchase of British shows is no different than that of American shows. It’s all based on quality production and content and also based on what viewers have responded well to in the past. Hence, we expect good response for these shows in the future.
Many of us have different interests in film and television. Tell our audiences how a career in public television could be something that could be worthwhile as an alternative to Hollywood.
Before I answer this question, Melisha, let me give you a little bit of my background in documentary making on GPB. One of my latest projects is “Dean Rusk: At the Heartbeat of History” about Georgian and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It premiered on GPB on May 27. Also, my GPB original documentary “Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel,” was released in 2011 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the book “Gone With the Wind” and won five Southeast Regional Emmys and was featured as an episode of the national PBS program “American Masters.”
Now to answer your question, I will begin by saying I am truly fortunate to have had a career as a documentary filmmaker in public broadcasting, but I didn’t set out to do that. After graduating from college I moved to L.A. to study filmmaking at the University of Southern California and worked on both student and feature films, doing everything from script writing to schlepping cables as a production assistant. I had begun the laborious process of working one’s way up in the film industry which would hopefully pay off in becoming a Hollywood writer or director one day. After a while, however, I realized that my interests lay in the real world around me rather than in the world of fiction. Working with film school friends on the side, I made little nonfiction pieces and showed them to people who encouraged me to change directions.
Finding public broadcasting was like coming home. I have been at GPB for 17 years and have never had a day when I didn’t learn something. I have never been bored. I feel deeply privileged to be part of PBS which has the highest standards in terms of content, production values and original programming. I have lived in the world of American Masters, NOVA, Frontline, and Masterpiece Theatre. I have produced programs for Georgia and for national PBS and I have met and worked with extraordinary people both in front of and behind the camera.
Perhaps I could have had a successful career in Hollywood, but I am so glad I chose public broadcasting. Documentary filmmaking gave me an excuse to enter worlds I would otherwise never see, to meet people with extraordinary ideas and experiences and to learn about the roots of our life today from the richness of our history. Thanks to public broadcasting, I remain continuously fascinated by the world around me.
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.
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/
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness. I had an opportunity of a lifetime to come face to face with one of the most powerful women in the world of film in the Southeastern region: Melissa Goodman, Executive Director of SAG(Screen Actors Guild) –AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and Internal Governance Committee Chair of Georgia Production Partnership. Before I met her, I was terrified of our meeting because I thought that I would meet an executive who would be impersonal and cold, sort of resembling the interview scene from The Devil Wears Prada in which Miranda Priestly was far too busy and important to deal with interviewing Andy, the “poor fat girl” who was rambling on about her credentials. I was pacing as I waited for our interview to begin, hoping that I didn’t drop something, break something, stutter, or say something completely ridiculous that would end the interview. After a few minutes of twiddling my thumbs, rehearsing what I would say, hyperventilating, and breaking a cold sweat or two, I was put at ease when she entered because I saw the same warm smile that she exhibits in this photo. She was very easy-going and welcoming and this was a great icebreaker for my rattled nerves. We shared a few laughs and also realized that we have the same nickname. Her name is Mel, short for Melissa, and mine also Mel, short for Melisha; hence, the name of the article. Below is a recap of some of the things that we discussed about SAG-AFTRA in my interview with her.
Transcript Hi Melissa. I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to meet with me to tell Women in Film and Television Atlanta’s audience more about SAG-AFTRA. For starters, tell us what this organization is and what it does for the actors.
Well[as you said], I am Melissa Goodman, Executive Director of SAG-Aftra Atlanta. I have been with SAG-AFTRA (SAG and AFTRA merged two years ago) 25 years having become the Executive Director in 1992. Screen Actor’s Guild is a labor union and we protect the wages and working conditions of actors – and when I say actors, it’s not just our members only; but, if it’s on a union set and if it is under our jurisdiction here, especially in a “Right to Work State” we protect everybody. We are a professional organization made up of professional actors. In addition to us protecting the rights and working conditions, we also form a family for the union members. We do conservatory events twice a month and we do member-only events to help people build their skills. We even monitor agents that are franchised under us. Right now we have quite a few franchised agents. Some agents let go of their SAG franchise and became part of the ATA (Association of Talent Agents) but we still help them and work with them and the members they represent and even the non-members. Any and all of our projects – all the film and television that’s being done here in Atlanta or Georgia right now – is under our jurisdiction. The only shows that are not under our jurisdiction now are some of the reality TV shows. Our agents have to comply with certain regulations that we set forth such as the amount of commissions that they can take on jobs so that the actor is not scammed. For those that are paying thousands of dollars to get with an agency, we make sure that that doesn’t happen. In addition to the many [franchises] that we already have, we have 6 and one more that is looking to be franchised. [As a matter of fact, before this interview, I was just at a site] making sure that the franchise coming onboard with us has a physical office so that it meets the regulations that the national office puts forth. It doesn’t matter how pretty or nice the office is, we just can’t allow [franchisees] to be working out of their house or other unscrupulous behavior.
Does your local Atlanta branch focus on protecting Georgia actors?
[I reiterate], I protect anyone here working on set. We have tons of people joining now because of the amount of work we have due to the incentives that came here in 2008. Hence, we have been growing and growing and growing. Right now, our membership has been growing because of that but there have been a huge influx of people coming in from LA (Los Angeles); and because the incentives aren’t working out in North Carolina, we are also seeing people from North Carolina coming here. When they are working on a set that’s under our local Atlanta jurisdiction we monitor that. So [for example], if someone is here from LA and they have a claim against that, it goes through us. We work cooperatively with the Florida office if they might file a claim but we do the investigative part of the claim. For instance, when I was down on the set of “The Walking Dead” and there were members from all over. They are not just our [Atlanta] members but they are members in general, both [SAG-AFTRA] members and non-members.
Ok finally, I read that California recently passed the Assembly Bill 1839. How do you think the passage of this bill will affect our incentives here, if at all?
I think that it’s great for California. I think that it will help them maintain some of their shows and even take back a few of their shows, but for California, it’s just not enough for them. They needed a bigger package. I don’t think it’s going to affect us here at all. We are seeing a lot of new production coming in here all the time. Our incentives are still fine for what we need here.
For more information on SAG-AFTRA Atlanta, visit http://www.sagaftra.org/atlanta.
For more information on GPP, visit http://www.georgiaproduction.org/