Most films schools cater to those who aspire to be auteurs or some other form of cinematic visionary. The Georgia Film Academy has a different goal that, while perhaps less lofty, is even more rarely achieved: to find its students gainful employment in the entertainment industry.
“We’ve disrupted higher education,” boasts Jeffrey Stepakoff, the GFA’s founding executive director. “Imagine going to university professors and saying, ‘If you want to study films, you have the makings here. But if you want to train people to go get a job in a few months, they need to get on a set and know which way a knuckle on a C-stand goes, and nobody in your university knows that.’”
Stepakoff’s own training tilted toward the creative side. An Atlanta native, he arrived in Hollywood in 1988, armed with an MFA in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon U., to launch a career in showbiz. He went on to work as a writer or writer-producer on 15 primetime or first-run cable TV series, including “The Wonder Years,” “Sisters,” “Hyperion Bay” and “Dawson’s Creek,” where he served as co-executive producer.