Atlanta Children’s Film Festival stresses positive media message for children of color

Event led by local nonprofit Kids Video Connection | Latest in our series on Georgia’s film industry
Indie filmmakers, festivals benefiting from Georgia’s thriving film industry
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 8:52 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - While working as a producer for Fulton County’s government TV station, Channel 16, Alesia Crosby Johnson was talking to a group of schoolchildren about her job. She then asked the group of students, “What’s your favorite program?”

“All these little hands came up, and one boy said, ‘Oh, Ms. Johnson, my favorite show is the WWF (now known as World Wrestling Entertainment).’

“Now, this little boy had been getting into trouble at his elementary school, putting headlocks on his classmates, but he thought he was just playing. I began realizing that children are trying to emulate their favorite characters: to walk and talk - and fight - like them. So I wanted to teach children how to produce their own, more positive programs.”

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Today, Crosby-Johnson is CEO and founder of Kids Video Connection (KVC), whose goal is to teach children media literacy and how to create positive media content. For the last 15 years, KVC has also hosted the Atlanta Children’s Film Festival every summer, and Crosby-Johnson said one of the festival’s goals is to expose children to careers in the film industry.

“Several people who work in the film industry donate their time and talents to teach the children about film production, editing, animation and acting,” Crosby-Johnson said.

Crosby-Johnson points to 2018-19 statistics from Common Sense Media, showing 13- to 18-year-old minority students will spend 11 hours a day consuming media; 308 hours a month using media; and the fact that the average child in America will have watched 200,000 negative or violent acts on media by the time they are 18.

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She works with young people, often minority youth, teaching them the skills they’ll need for a career in the film industry in Georgia. “Media is central to children of color in terms of how they think,” she said.

Writer and producer Phebe Dowels credits Crosby-Johnson and KVC for her media career.

“With her guidance and video expertise, at age 15, I was inspired to be a forward-thinking teen and set goals which resulted in me graduating as a first-generation college graduate from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and film/video,” Dowels said.

By the numbers: Georgia film industry

  • No cap on the film/ TV tax credit program
  • In fiscal year 2021, 366 productions were filmed in the state, represented by 21 feature films, 45 independent films, 222 television and episodic productions, 57 commercials, and 21 music videos.
  • In fiscal year 2021, the film and television industry set a new record with $4.1 billion in direct spending on productions in the state.
  • In fiscal year 2021, Georgia doled out $1.2 billion in film and TV tax credits. That was 40% higher than the state’s previous record, $860 million, which was set in 2019.
  • Georgia was the first state to allow filming during the pandemic.

Assembly Atlanta is a 135-acre mixed-use real estate complex centered around the studio industry at the former site of the General Motors plant in Doraville.

The signature component of the Assembly Atlanta development is the 43-acre Assembly Studios complex featuring soundstages, production offices, warehouse and mill buildings, studio bungalows, event space, and a parking deck. The new facilities will include multiple soundstages, production office space, warehouses and mill space, as well as parking and other necessary amenities.

Next to the Assembly Studios complex is Third Rail Studios, a movie and television production facility spanning seven acres that opened in 2016 and that Gray acquired in September 2021.