Don’t Miss the Georgia Film Festival Hosted by University of North Georgia from May 18-20: Insights from Dr. Jeff Marker

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by Mollee D. Harper

Georgia Entertainment News sits down with Head of Communication, Media & Journalism Dr. Jeff Marker to preview the upcoming Georgia Film Festival hosted by the University of North Georgia from May 18-20. During our time together, Dr. Marker shares highlights of this year’s festival including the lineup of films, events sponsors including GPP, special panelists, workshops and the after party hosted by Moonshine Post Productions.

The GA Film Festival will be held at UNG’s Gainesville Campus. Georgia-based filmmakers and movies shot in or about Georgia will fill the screen in UNG’s Ed Cabell Theatre and all panels and workshops will be in the CE 108 auditorium, both in the Performing Arts & Continuing Education Facility.

The festival commences on Friday, May 18, 2018 and wraps up on Sunday, May 20, 2018. This is the third annual film festival hosted by the University of North Georgia, but the first time under the “Georgia Film Festival” name. It was called the “Skyline International Film Festival” in the previous years.

Dr. Marker shared, “The Georgia Film Festival seeks to showcase films made in Georgia and to help promote and connect Georgia-based film makers and organizations. We are also a University Department that is putting on the festival so it really helps our film majors network with people within the industry. It’s great to help them get that kind of early exposure in their careers.” 

“Our mission this year is primarily to showcase Georgia-made films and Georgia-based talent. There are two UNG student blocks, but everyone else is independent and from outside of our student base. We are really proud to showcase the talent of our students pursuing our Film & Digital Media degree, but hopefully we do that in a way that serves the statewide film industry too. We believe we have a good sampling of the different movies and films being created throughout the state represented in our lineup. We received some wonderful films from around the world, too, and are excited to share them.”  

One of the sponsors of the Georgia Film Festival is the Georgia Production Partnership (GPP), who will kick off the festival on opening night with its regional meeting and field questions regarding Georgia’s booming entertainment industry spanning film, television and music.

Dr. Marker emphasized, “The GPP regional meeting is actually at the beginning of our festival. They are one of the most important advocacy groups in the Georgia film industry. We are really happy to host them on our campus.”

Georgia Production Partnership, known as the GPP, is a nonprofit coalition of companies and individuals who are active in Georgia’s film, video, music, and interactive gaming and digital media industries. Since 1995, the GPP’s top priority has been to protect the production tax incentive and strengthen the industry for the State of Georgia. It continues to serve as a critical forum for members to come together, and stay informed.

He continued, “Moonshine Post-production is another of our primary sponsors. We have an ongoing relationship with Moonshine. Several of our students have worked with them in internships and some of our graduates are now employed there. We work with them all the time. Drew and his team are such great people.

“We are also being sponsored by Final Draft. They make the industry standard screenwriting software. They are a new sponsor for us this year and another relationship we’re very proud of within the industry.”

Dr. Marker shared, “We have a couple of days of panels and workshops with some rather impressive speakers for the show.” 

This year’s distinguished panelists and speakers for the Georgia Film Festival include: Greg Sudmeire, Michael Hollinger, Morgan Lawley, Video Rahim, and Art David, among others.

The five esteemed speakers represent unique aspects of Georgia’s entertainment industry including scoring, stunts, special effects and music video production. Greg Sudmeire founded and conducted the “Skywalker Symphony” at Lucasfilm scoring music for many films and projects, including the Grammy-nominated “Star Wars Trilogy” album with composer John Williams. Michael Hollinger is a veteran stuntman in the film industry featured in numerous studio films over the past 15 years. VFX pioneer and industry veteran, Art David’s work includes giving Neo the ability to dodge bullets in The Matrix, among many other projects.

Representing the music side of the industry is Morgan Lawley who has directed music videos for Goo Goo Dolls, Trisha Yearwood, Jo Dee Messina, Terri Clark and Alan Jackson, among others. Lawley will be joined by music video director Video Rahim, most known for his work with Puff Daddy, Ciara, Mos Def, Cee-Lo, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Mastodon, Blackberry Smoke, and many others.

Dr. Marker announced, “Carrie Schrader, a faculty member in the CMJ department at UNG, will have her and co-filmmaker Charlene Fisk’s feature-length film, ‘The Founders,’ screened from 7-9 p.m. Friday. The story focuses on the 13 women who founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association.”

“Carrie’s film is a great piece of work, and she is representative of our production faculty in that she continues to produce impactful work while teaching. Every one of our production faculty members has written, directed, produced, or edited a significant project just within the past couple of years. I am enormously proud to work with all of them and proud that our students learn from actual filmmakers.”

The best films from the festival will be awarded on the final night. Three judges, Robyn Hicks and James Mackenzie, both faculty at UNG, and Ethell Nunez-Suazo, who graduated from UNG with a degree in film and digital media, will select the best Georgia-made short.

“The judges also include industry professionals and audience members in order to maintain fairness.”

“On Saturday night, our after party will be held at Left Nut Brewing in Gainesville. They produce their own draft beer which is really great. This is their actual brewery so the venue is interesting and offers a wide selection of refreshments. Moonshine Post is sponsoring the party. Left Nut is right around the corner from campus and is a neighborhood hangout for many of us, so we’re excited to introduce others to them.” 

Dr. Marker concluded, “We had around 200 attendees last year. We have a different focus and mission this year and aren’t sure how many we will have in attendance. Given the interest in pre-sales and on social media, attendance is definitely looking strong.”

“The purpose of this announcement is to get the word out and encourage people to attend. Hopefully this will help us to do an even better job reaching other filmmakers throughout the State for next year, and continue to grow our program for continued success for our students in their future careers as the next generation of Georgia talent and filmmakers.” 

For more information and a complete schedule, visit the Georgia Film Festival website. See the full slate of panels and workshops here and purchase passes here.

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