By C. Scott Votaw, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the Georgia Film Academy
As Atlanta’s film industry flourishes, there is a pressing need to create accessible paths for individuals to discover careers in film, television and new media across Georgia. The Georgia Film Academy (GFA), globally recognized as a leader in workforce training and education for filmmakers, is leading this charge through partnerships with more than 30 institutions, public workshops and close collaborations with local businesses and production companies.
GFA aims to support the growing demand for film careers by providing Georgians with skills and knowledge to succeed in the entertainment industry.
As a unit of the University System of Georgia, GFA is housed at the Board of Regents and partners with the Technical College System of Georgia to reach technical colleges around the state and provide students opportunities to participate in training initiatives. GFA also works closely with Georgia’s Department of Education to create a statewide curriculum that feeds GFA programs through audio-video training, dramatic writing, esports, and more.
These partnerships are the basis of GFA’s three-system alliance model, which has enabled us to have more than 13,000 enrollments since our 2015 inception with more than 1,100 participating in our internship program. To date, students have worked on blockbuster movies and television programs, including Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “Avengers: End Game,” “Captain America: Brave New World,” “Creed III,” “Stranger Things,” and “Wakanda Forever,” among many others.
The effectiveness of our model was evident at the recent “80th Annual Venice Film Festival,” where I was asked to showcase Georgia’s rise in the film industry and GFA’s impact. Educators and industry experts, globally and domestically, are trying to replicate GFA’s internationally recognized program.
The unique combination of public education, entertainment industry, labor, government and private sector businesses have collaborated and invested to create this extremely effective and successful instructional partnership. Placing industry professionals in the classroom has created an immersive, hands-on experience for future filmmakers and industry craft specialists.
But there is still work to be done. Many Georgians remain unaware of film industry job opportunities and GFA’s educational partnerships to fill these roles. While the map of our impact across the state is impressive, it still is incomplete until GFA has expanded beyond metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus to reach rural communities, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for those seeking attractive industry jobs.
Achieving “classroom to workforce” coverage across Georgia requires a multifaceted approach, including engaging with local school districts and superintendents to promote the program as a viable option for high school students. This would foster more collaboration with partner institutions and boost enrollment at all GFA partner institutions statewide.
The plan also involves expanding work to include remote GFA training hubs across the state, GFA partner institutions and the Georgia Department of Education to provide additional high school teacher training and student-attended summer camps.
These camps introduce students to the film, television and esports industries, developing necessary skills and educating students on potential job opportunities in the film and creative industries. High school educators can participate in a one-week AVTF (Audio, Visual, Television, Film) training program, pairing expert trainers with industry equipment at sound stages, studios and other businesses.
Currently, more than 100 Georgia school districts of approximately 240 high schools participate, but we foresee an increased focus on educator buy-in and student camp participation in the future.
While reaching rural Georgians for training and camp attendance poses some challenges, including distance and associated expenses, we are committed to overcoming these hurdles by leveraging connections and exploring innovative solutions, such as effective virtual delivery platforms to engage learners in remote areas.
GFA’s success is built on effective education and industry partnerships, but the next phase is scaling the organization’s impact. To reach lofty goals, public support is essential. GFA cannot do it alone and calls on private and public partners to join in this ambitious endeavor to fill the map.
Georgia’s extraordinary entertainment industry lies in its people. It is time to reach all Georgians and provide them with opportunities in this thriving Creative Economy.
About Scott Votaw
C. Scott Votaw serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for the University System of Georgia, where he leads the Georgia Film Academy. An entertainment arts and academic industries global expert, Votaw has more than 35 years of production, education and workforce development experience.
To read more features like this one, check out Georgia Entertainment’s Creative Economy Journal.