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Decatur set decorator builds career in Georgia’s film industry

Updated: May 8, 2023


If you love to shop, you’d love Amanda Cornell’s job. She buys most of the stuff that winds up on a movie set. Actually, it’s more than shopping.


“As a buyer, I have to coordinate with the set decorators to understand the look they want on a particular set,” says Amanda, a Decatur resident. “Then I have to search throughout Georgia to find it all, but even that’s fun as I work with various local retailers and manufacturers to secure just the right pieces.”


What’s more, her future does not depend on an elevation to a higher-paying job. “I love this job,” she says. “I might eventually want to decorate low-budget features, but for now I’m doing what I’m most happy with –– a challenging, creative job that never gets old. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”


Amanda, who grew up in Connecticut, got to Georgia by recognizing the opportunities here. When she was a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, she studied film production design, but her career opportunities were limited when the state withdrew its tax credit for the industry.


“I considered going to New York, but then thought I could do better in Georgia,” she says, adding that she doesn’t regret that decision. “Georgia offered a better quality of life, so I saved up to buy a home in Decatur and have been here almost 10 years.


Despite her job, Amanda’s life is not defined by “stuff.” It’s the relationships she prizes most.


“I get to develop personal relationships with local vendors,” she says, citing the folks at Sarah Donuts who made the donuts for the shop in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Each job is different. “I never would have imagined all the great people I’ve met. I especially love having the chance to help family businesses.”


In addition to the “Spider-Man” movie, her work includes “The Color Purple,” “Haunted Mansion,” “Jungle Cruise,” “The Tomorrow War,” “The Glorias,” and “Venom.”


In short, she’s content with her job opportunities in Georgia and confident she will have a rewarding future in film production.


“It took a decade to get here, but I’m happy where I am.”

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