Georgia’s multi-billion-dollar film industry has generated tens of thousands of jobs for Georgians in high demand career fields, such as electric and lighting, grip and rigging, and Avid post-production. This fall, the Georgia Film Academy (GFA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) rolled out the state’s first-ever professional Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media program for Georgia filmmakers and content creators, in collaboration with film industry center, Trilith. Through this master’s program, the state is building a content creation industry here to rival that of Hollywood.
“This is an unprecedented advancement in laying the foundation to create writing and content creation jobs in Georgia,” said Jeffrey Stepakoff, executive director of the GFA. “For the past five years, we have been actively training a robust workforce of Georgians in below-the-line fields, and this program will create opportunities for storytellers, who would otherwise have to leave the state for jobs in New York and Los Angeles.”
With the first cohort successfully underway and applications now open for fall 2021, the MFA program is drawing top talent from Hollywood to work with students as part of a Distinguished Industry Mentors initiative, including recent Emmy Award winner Damon Lindelof (co-creator/showrunner: Watchmen, The Leftovers, Lost; screenwriter: Star Trek Into the Darkness, World War Z).
“Our goal is to provide students with a world-class education and that includes having contacts with some of the most accomplished television and film professionals in the business,” said Dr. Jeff Springston, director of the MFA Film, Television and Digital Media program. “Our faculty have invited their extensive network of Hollywood talent to the program through our Distinguished Industry Mentors and Writers-in-Residence initiatives. These connections not only set our program apart from others, but the mentors are sure to provide inspiration and motivation to our students.”
Hailing from Hollywood, with screen credits including cult teen comedy Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead; Melrose Place, The Magnificent Seven, Doogie Howser, M.D., The Secret World of Alex Mack, Twice in a Lifetime, MTV’s Undressed and more, industry veteran Neil Landau is the founding associate professor and director of screenwriting. Landau leads graduate students in screenwriting, producing, directing, film history, audio production and lighting at the UGA campus in Athens. Accomplished editor Bryan Cole (Who Killed Malcom X) also joins the program as associate professor, Department of Theatre and Film Studies.
“Drawing this level of talent to Georgia sends a strong message to the industry,” said Stepakoff. “Georgia means business.”
- ● Amy Aniobi (executive producer: Insecure, Two Dope Queens; writer/producer: Silicon Valley, Trial & Error, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl)
- ● Justin Hillian (showrunner: The Chi; writer/producer: I’m Dying Up Here, Superstore)
- ● Gloria Calderón Kellett (showrunner: One Day at a Time; writer/producer: How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, Devious Maids)
- ● Veena Sud (showrunner: The Killing, Seven Seconds, The Stranger)
- ● David Koepp (screenwriter: Jurassic Park, Spider-man, Panic Room, War of the
Worlds, Carlito’s Way; writer/director: Stir of Echoes)
- ● David Semel (director: The Man in the High Castle, Goliath, American Horror
Story, Heroes, Person of Interest)
- ● Thomas Carter (director: Coach Carter, Save the Last Dance).
After spending their first year studying at UGA’s campus in Athens, students spend the second year taking residence with GFA at Trilith, the 935-acre master development for the creative industries in South Metro Atlanta that is home to Trilith Studios, the second largest purpose-built studio in North America, where blockbuster films like Avengers: Endgame were produced. The studios feature 18 sound stages ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet with adjacent workshop facilities and an extensive 400-acre backlot. Immersed in the industry, students will gain real-world experience in advanced writing, production, advanced directing, computer animation and thesis films, and will graduate with a master’s degree from UGA.
Applications for the fall 2021 cohort are open until December 1.