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CASE STUDY: Georgia Film Academy



Introduction

Established in 2015, the GFA is a joint initiative between the University System of

Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia. It aims to meet the

educational and employment needs of Georgia's film and television sector.

The GFA offer three industry certifications delivered through 28 partner institutions

across Georgia, including Savannah State University, the University of Georgia and

Georgia State University. 31 The GFA also works with these educational institutions to

develop industry-relevant curricula and training opportunities. Through its partnerships

with educational institutions, industry entities such as Disney, MGM, Netflix, HBO and

industry unions IATSE Local 479 and Local 491 the GFA ensures its curriculum

remains attuned to industry-relevant needs and provides students with a practical

education that prepares them for work in the film and television industries.


Aims and Objectives

The GFA aims to bridge the skills gap in the state’s growing film and television sector

by offering targeted education and training programs. Through its industry

collaborations, the GFA aims to continuously adapt its curricula to furnish students with

the relevant skills and credentials needed to enter Georgia’s expanding film and

television industry.


Impact

Since its foundation, the GFA has profoundly influenced Georgia's film and television

landscape and is now considered the gold standard for industry training. Working

alongside major Georgia studios like Trilith Studios, Athena Studios, and OFS Studios

and leveraging expert instructors and state-of-the-art equipment, the GFA has created

a unique environment to ensure students across Georgia are poised for industry

integration post-certification. Notably, the GFA has collaborated with Trilith Studios

(then Pinewood Atlanta), where it opened a 15,860 square-foot soundstage for hands-

on experience education as part of the Semester on Set initiative. 32 Similarly, Athena

Studios has dedicated a 14,600-square-foot soundstage and learning center

exclusively for the education and training of students in the University of Georgia and

the GFA programs. 33 These partnerships with studios and the provision of student

soundstages underscore the GFA's commitment to providing real-world training

environments for its students.


GFA students are provided first-hand production experience and an opportunity to

jumpstart their careers through the GFA’s internship/apprenticeship course. Part of

their industry certifications, the GFA internship/apprenticeship is a highly competitive

course which matches eligible students with professional film and television

productions shooting in Georgia. Thanks to the GFA’s strong engagement with the film

and television industry and great relationships with IATSE and the Georgia Film Office,

the GFA are able to reach out to every production that shoots in Georgia to source

potential internships, apprenticeships and jobs for GFA students.

 

31 Participating Institutions. Georgia Film Academy. Accessible at: https://georgiafilmacademy.edu/academics/participating-institutions

32 New Georgia Film Academy Soundstage Opens At Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Pinewood, 26 th April 2016. Accessible at: https://pinewoodgroup.com/pinewood-today/news/new-georgia-film-academy-gfa-soundstage-opens-at-pinewood-atlanta-studios

33 Athena Studios dedicates state-of-the art soundstage, learning center to University of Georgia and Georgia Film Academy. Athena Studios, 4th November 2022. Accessible at: https://athenastudiosga.com/blog/athena-studios-dedicates-state-of-the-art-soundstage-learning-center-to-university-of-georgia-and-georgia-film-academy/

 

The Georgia Film Academy has placed 1200 interns onto over 150 films and TV

productions since its inception


GFA instructors are experienced industry professionals able to develop and deliver

coursework that aligns with the needs of an industry often characterized by rapid

technological changes. Chuck E. Kerr, lead production instructor, and Greg Gause,

head of post-production, lead a team of instructors who, along with GFA leadership

and professional staff, hold more than 834 years of professional film and television

experience. Many GFA faculty continue to work in Georgia’s film and television

industry and, as a result, provide valuable current insight, knowledge and experience

to the GFA student cohort.


The Georgia Film Academy Scholarship Fund, operated through the USG Foundation,

provides tuition support of $750 for a single course or full tuition coverage of $2,250

per student, the GFA reinforces its commitment to educating all of Georgia. These

efforts contribute to a broader demographic engagement, leading to higher levels of

employment among diverse communities outside of Atlanta.


To extend the film/TV production training pipeline to high school students, GFA has

launched secondary school programs to provide curriculum and teacher training in the

areas of content creation, production, and post-production so that students may be

exposed to the full ecosystem of the film, TV and digital entertainment industries.


The GFA, in partnership with the CTAE-- Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education

division of the Georgia Department of Education, created and now offers GFA

production training workshops designed to teach the Audio-Visual Technology and

Film (AVTV) teachers across the state the latest film standards and provide the

schools with updated film equipment to supplement their existing AVTF programs.


Working with the Fayette County Schools and the Georgia Department of Education,

the GFA also helped to create a new English Language Arts course called Dramatic

writing for Film, TV and theater 1.  This course can serve as an ELA core requirement

option as well as a fine arts elective. Complementing this course, the GFA conducts

training workshops to certify teachers. In the past five years, more than 360 educators

have completed this course, which is estimated to have reached over 12,500 students

throughout the state.


More recently, the GFA has initiated a workshop series in Broadcasting and New

Media to support the growing trend of live-streaming varsity esports in Georgia high

schools. Beyond educator support, the GFA orchestrates summer camps for high

school students, providing them with training and mentorship from industry

professionals on state-of-the-art equipment.


These endeavors are directly aligned with the GFA’s objective of fostering and

expanding the state’s film, TV, and Creative Media industries, and to foster and retain

creative talent in Georgia. Through partnering with educational institutions across

Georgia, the GFA has enabled students from all backgrounds access to an education

that will lead to career in a high-growth industry.

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