Image via Unsplash.

As Atlanta’s film industry flourishes, there’s a pressing need to create accessible paths for people to discover careers in film, television and e-gaming across Georgia. The Georgia Film Academy (GFA), globally recognized as a leader in workforce training, 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.

As a unit of the University System of Georgia, GFA is governed by the Board of Regents and partners with the Technical College System of Georgia to reach 22 technical colleges around the state and provide students with opportunities to participate in our training. GFA also works closely with Georgia’s Department of Education to create a state-wide curriculum that feeds programs through audio-video training, dramatic writing and more. 

These partnerships are the basis of GFA’s three-system alliance model that has enabled us to educate more than 12,000 students since our 2016 inception, with over 1,100 participating in our internship program. To date, students have worked on blockbuster movies and television programs, including “Captain America: Brave New World,” “Creed III,” “Stranger Things,” “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 are trying to replicate GFA’s internationally recognized program.

Scott Votaw is the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy.

However, 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 incomplete, GFA has expanded beyond metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus to reach rural communities, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for those seeking these attractive industries.

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.

The plan also involves working with partner institutions and the Department of Education to provide additional high school teacher training and student-attended summer camps. These camps introduce students to the film and television industry, including job opportunities both in-person and virtual. High school educators can participate in a two-week AVTF (Audio, Video, Technology, Film) training program, pairing expert trainers with industry equipment at soundstages, studios and other businesses. Currently, more than 100 Georgia school districts comprised 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 film industry lies in its people. It’s time to reach all Georgians and provide them with opportunities in this thriving industry. 

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