Work in Georgia’s film/TV industry
Georgia College’s Department of Theatre and Dance now offers an 18-credit hour certificate program to train students to be ready for jobs in the film and television industry. The department also works hand-in-hand with the Georgia Film Academy to help students land their first job.
Through the program, you can now join the booming film industry in Georgia, which in fiscal year 2016 had a more than $7 billion economic impact in the state. Georgia ranks third in the nation—only behind Hollywood and New York— for number of productions with more than 245 feature film and television productions shot here.
What is The Georgia Film Academy?
The Georgia Film Academy is a collaboration of the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia created by state leadership to meet education and workforce needs for high demand careers in Georgia’s film and creative industries.
The GFA higher education program offers rigorous professional training, and may lead to union-covered film and television production craft internships and placement in creative industries apprenticeships and jobs.
The GFA is a unique-in-the-nation, state-wide effort which provides you with:
- Multi-disciplinary training by professionals in the film, TV and new media industries.
- In classroom course work coupled with on-set, hands-on training.
- Hands-on instruction and training working with a package of professional equipment (cameras, sound gear, lights, etc.) as well as production trucks, generators and sound studio space.
- Opportunity to work on “real world” projects in order to develop recognized film credits, through partnerships with professional productions.
- One-on-one job counseling to include resume preparation, job research and job placement outreach.
For more information on the Georgia Film Academy and the certification, visit http://georgiafilmacademy.org.
Department of Theatre & Dance
The Georgia College Department of Theatre and Dance not only prepares students for careers in both the professional and educational aspects of the field, but also gives students a personal and hands-on experience that is bar none. Students are challenged through courses and productions that emphasize imagination, passion, discipline and collaboration.
The department also has a strong focus on engaging the community with the arts. Each season we bring a variety of performances to the stage to evoke emotions, create laughter and provoke the deep thoughts of the audience.
For more information, visit Department of Theatre & Dance.
The Film Production Certificate consists of 18 hours of academic credit. The first course is 6-credit hours taught on the Georgia College campus. This is an introduction to the skills necessary for employment in the film/TV industry.
The second course is also a 6 credit hour course. It is the on-set internship where students learn and hone their craft while working on the crew of a professional production.
The Film Production Certificate Program at Georgia College is open to any student pursuing a degree at an accredited university in the state. Current Georgia College students can contact their advisor for more information. Students from other universities can learn more about our transient admissions process.
If you do not plan to earn a degree at Georgia College, but simply want to gain a Certificate in the Georgia Film Academy, please go here instead:
Keeli Ewing, Department of Theatre and Dance (478) 445-8290 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Janice Pillay, academic advisor for Art, Liberal Studies, Music, Music Education, Philosophy, Theatre, 478-445-2767 or email@example.com
Georgia College is working to implement all aspects of the program mentioned above.
Witness Cameraman (Visual Effects)
Jeremy Colwell has an unusual relationship with movies. He tends to like the ones other people don’t. The Mike Myers version of Cat in the Hat is a case in point. “Check it out; it's an underrated gem,” he says. A surprising statement given that the film was slaughtered by critics when it came out in 2003 and performed poorly at the box office.
“It's super weird - a lot of different concepts thrown together but it all works for me and it tells its lesson very well, and I think Mike Myers is really funny in it.”
“I grew up loving that book,” he added. “My librarian kept saying ‘put that back and get something different - you get that book every time you come in here.’”
Jeremy is a 25-year-old witness camera operator working in film production in Georgia. He took the Georgia Film Academy course at Georgia College in Milledgeville and his area of expertise is visual effects (VFX).
“A lot of the superhero stuff that's happening right now in Marvel and DC is very VFX-heavy. The Fast and Furious movies use a ton of VFX. Even some TV shows have them, whether it's mermaids or giants, or a building exploding or someone shooting a rocket launcher,” says Jeremy.
“Whatever magic is happening, I wanted to be a part of that - making the world come to life without you knowing that it's not real. I've seen some really insane stuff I never thought was possible on film from VFX.” Jeremy singles out the Avengers villain Thanos (played by actor Josh Brolin) as a favorite example of a stunning visual effect brought to life: “He's a big, purple giant… and it's terrifying. They accomplished something very special in making it feel so tangible and real and scary.”
“The recent Planet of the Apes films really blew me away with their ‘motion capture’ suits. Also The Social Network has some subtle but important VFX with the set of twins that Armie Hammer plays. I went months after seeing that movie thinking Hammer actually had a twin.”
Why take the GFA course? “I wanted to be in the film industry for most of my life, and this opportunity came up to train to work on set in productions. If you don't know someone and you are not part of a program, this is a very difficult industry to break into.”
The GFA course “teaches you how to work on a big Hollywood set” and tends to weed out people who think it’s going to be all fun and glamour, Jeremy says. “There's a lot that goes into it. It's made me appreciate the amount of effort and time it takes. It was extremely technical and things can be tedious. It's not always super exciting. That was my first big lesson and it was very valuable.”
Jeremy worked on Ant Man and the Wasp for his GFA internship and his name even appears in the final credits. “My department was so nice; they wanted to teach us as much as possible before our internship was over. It exceeded my expectations and they were already sky-high.”
He continues, “You see these huge movies on the screen and that's a different world completely, another realm, and then you step onto the set and it's like, ‘Oh, it's right here in front of me.’ I'm a part of it and working to make it happen; I can do this and I can be good at it; I can make a career out of this, and it's one of those experiences that you don't really believe until you see it.”
There is a viable career to be had in Georgia’s film industry, Jeremy affirms:
“I think Georgia is unique in the sense that the talent pool is immense and hasn't really been tapped into, and everyone's so hospitable here.”
Jeremy has made a couple of his own films. “There was one we did last year called Open about a guy who's seeing a girl and then finds out she’s in an open relationship. Her husband brings home a woman he is seeing so there's this tense dynamic between four people.”
“The other one we did was very guerilla-style,” he recalls. “We went on location and had this idea to do a found-footage type of short. I play a YouTube guy that's blogging. It was very organic and improvisational.” Jeremy had just wrapped work on a show called El Dorado when production on all projects came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus outbreak.
What advice does he have for aspiring filmmakers? “It's not as scary as it seems,” he says. “Jump in, you'll love it. It's a ton of hard work, but it's so rewarding.”
Calling it a “valuable opportunity,” Jeremy concluded, “The great thing about GFA is that they give you the tools and a path into the industry. They usher you in there and say ‘take what you've learned, use it, but also continue to learn.’ I don't see any other way I could have gotten into the industry.”
Kayla Elise Thomas
Actress, singer, screenwriter, gaffer
Kayla Thomas thinks we could all use a little more humor in our lives.
With that in mind, she and two other Georgia Film Academy graduates are collaborating on a short series of films under the title Scooby Crew. The story follows a group of 20-somethings working in different facets of the movie industry who end up “connecting” during a wild film festival after-party.
“It's this really goofy premise,” Kayla says in a phone interview, “and a bit autobiographical, but on top of that, it's us being satirical and poking fun at ourselves. We're just putting something out there to make people laugh.”
But there is a serious side to her work as well. As part of a production company called Our Side of the Story, Kayla has been busy on a project titled Colored Girl Chronicles (not to be confused with Jenise Wilson’s book series of the same name) “about four women of color, in Brooklyn, navigating life,” she says. “We’ve written ten episodes and filmed our pilot which is nearing the end of its editing phase.”
The other nine episodes were due to be filmed over the summer of 2020, according to Kayla, who had temporarily moved to New York for the Chronicles project. “Now I have to do a workaround,” she says. “We have a few teasers, and there's a whole Kickstarter ready to launch when things settle down and we figure out what's going on out there. We are going to try to make the filming happen as soon as possible.”
What inspired her to get involved in film? “It really started when I was in Georgia College my sophomore year. We had a film class, and learned about shots and sound equipment - things like that. That kind of sparked my interest and then in my senior year I did the screenwriting class. That's my number one passion at the moment.”
Kayla says the GFA course helps students “get a deeper understanding of every aspect and puts it all together. It's also been beneficial because once I graduated and started writing and acknowledging the program, I met some great people.”
Before all that happened, Kayla played the role of Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray and Trix the Aviatrix in The Drowsy Chaperone, the latter being “a brave and brash female aviator....sassy, sleek and a take-charge kind of gal,” according to the Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s description of the character. This was when Kayla was enrolled at Milton High School, where she participated in a Godspell production in conjunction with the Renaissance International School of Performing Arts. Thomas then joined the Atlanta Workshop Players and played the role of Ramona Merengue in the company’s production of Zombie Prom.
In college, Thomas took three years of vocal training and competed as a partner in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She wrote and performed in a short film called Dissection and her senior capstone was a one-woman show about her life titled Embrace Your Humanity.
“Finding my voice has definitely been a journey - figuring out what that is. Growing up, being the type of woman I am, I was always struggling to figure out what my genuine voice was.”
While in New York she sang in a Brave New World Repertory Theatre production called The Plantation, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard set in Virginia after emancipation and the Civil War but before the advent of Jim Crow.
“Ever since I was a child, I have been drawn to art in every form,” Kayla wrote on her website. “Every time I’ve seen the first shot of a movie, walked through a museum where hours felt like minutes, lost myself in a song, or witnessed the curtain rise at the start of a show, I felt the power of it all.”
When Kayla was working in theatre, she recalls “there was always something that didn't fully line up; then I started learning about and pursuing film, and watching more movies - that's when it really clicked that this was what I was supposed to be doing.”
So is the film industry a good career choice for people? “It's worth it,” Kayla says. “It's not always linear, but it's exciting. If you have a drive and a passion for it, you should definitely follow through with it.”