Film industry group to help kick off UNG’s Georgia Film Festival

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By J.K. Devine

For the second time in the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) history, the Georgia Production Partnershipnew window (GPP) will open itself to the public for questions and answers regarding the film and television industry on UNG’s Gainesville Campus.

The GPP’s public session will kick off the Georgia Film Festivalnew window, presented by UNG’s Department of Communication, Media and Journalismnew window (CMJ). GPP is sponsoring the opening night of the event, which runs from May 18-20.

Dr. Jeff Marker, department chair of CMJ, said GPP holding its regional meeting at UNG is an ideal fit for the Georgia Film Festival.

“The goal of the festival is to promote Georgia-made films and Georgia-based talent,” Marker said. “GPP encompasses both of those goals. They are one of the most important advocacy groups in the Georgia film industry.”

GPP is a nonprofit coalition of companies and individuals who are active in Georgia’s film, video, music, and digital media industries, the GPP websitenew window states. Since 1995, its top priority has been to protect the production tax incentive and strengthen the industry. It also provides a forum for members to stay informed.

The public GPP meeting is a networking opportunity for all sides, Marker said.

“It’s a great way for people in the local business community to learn how to work with the film and TV industry,” he said. “And it’s a great way to bring industry professionals to our campus and see what our students are working on.”

UNG students have been working hard to prepare for the film festival. Not only are they volunteers for the festival, they will premiere their films to friends, family and community members.

Two blocks of time — from 5-6 p.m. May 18 and 4:30-6 p.m. May 19 —focus on UNG students’ short films. Exactly 60 UNG student films were submitted to the festival, said Elizabeth Foil, a senior majoring in communications with a concentration in public relations from Winder, Georgia. She is tasked with spreading the word about the film festival.

Marker always looks forward the students’ submissions.

“I love the UNG shorts,” he said. “We usually have a lot of family and friends attend, and I love seeing their support for the filmmakers. It’s often the first time students show their work publicly. It’s very exciting and a very big deal.”

Students are not the only ones who have a moment to shine in a darkened room with a screen displaying their work. Many Georgia-based filmmakers or movies shot in or about Georgia will fill the screen in UNG’s Ed Cabell Theatre in the Continuing Education Building.

For example, 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.

Short films to be shown throughout the weekend include the best of The 48-Hour Film Projectnew window. Marker explained the nationwide phenomenon is a competition among filmmakers to make a movie in 48 hours. At the festival, the best from 2017 filmed in Atlanta will be shown.

The best of the film 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 May 4 with a degree in film and digital media, will select the best Georgia-made short.

“For the UNG film blocks, the judges are industry professionals in order to maintain fairness,” said Elizabeth Foil, a senior from Winder, Georgia majoring in communications with a concentration in public relations at UNG.

Foil is tasked with lining up sponsors and partnerships and spreading the word about the film festival.

Other judges will select the best student short film. Audience members will also vote on both awards.

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