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Athens: Local Pride & The Future of Film


Commentary by David Sutherland, Senior Lecturer, University of Georgia

Combining the power of eight registered film production groups, an Athens Clarke County Film
Office, local talent and capability with others moving to the Classic City, a high school film career development program in addition to technical schools and a major university that is granting a Master of Fine Arts in Movie and Television Production and working with the Georgia Film Academy, – Athens is rolling!

Recently a feature production was shot at the UGA/Athena Studio during the Writers and Film
Actors strikes. The film, American Deadbolt, received one of only 34 Screen Actors Guild waivers to allow filming. Director Bryan Redding gathered a team of 54 individuals, local film talent and capability, including UGA film students and staff, added a known actor, Jeff Fahey, and shot the 90-minute set-based thriller in seven production days (two of those days were worked during a power outage on home generators, after a severe windstorm knocked out power).

According to Assistant Director Clint Ross and Executive Producer Chris Hines, what drove the
cast and crew to the heightened level of production and performance was a camaraderie focused by a tremendous desire to show what this small college town with its purpose-built Athena Studios could do. Fahey helped to elevate that commitment through his example and mentoring, staying a few extra days in Athens because he liked it so much. (Hines had a conversation with Fahey about his potentially working on other projects to Athens in the near future.)

On October 4 a committee reviewing the Georgia Film Tax Incentive will meet in Athens to discuss the future of that incentive. The members of this committee need to know how proud the community is of this burgeoning film industry. They need to know how this project not only brought revenue, but the buzz in shops, restaurants and local haunts the past two months was about “that movie they’re doing out at Athena”, and they need to know how that pride lives on in constituents’ hearts.


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