Students are getting more of a voice in Georgia film industry

Budding filmmakers, directors and actors are climbing toward their dreams at Georgia State University.
Budding filmmakers, directors and actors are climbing toward their dreams at Georgia State University.
Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 12:09 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - As the film industry continues to explode in Georgia, local colleges and universities are adjusting their programs in an effort to give students and alumni a voice in the show business.

Whether they want to be in front of the camera, behind the camera or writing the dialogue heard on screen, students at Georgia State University’s (GSU) School of Film, Media and Theatre are learning it all.

“Screenwriting, production, postproduction, animation, sound, just everything you’re interested in, there’s a class for that,” GSU student Cecilia Muniz said.

It’s one of the reasons why the international student came to GSU, the other one being location.

“I did look at California and New York,” Muniz said. “But then I learned about Atlanta, how it’s the Hollywood of the South. I started looking at schools in Georgia and GSU was the best fit for me.”

While GSU always had a film major, it wasn’t until 2017 that the university created the School of Film, Media and Theatre. Just last year, GSU began offering a Master of Fine Arts.

“We’ve always done a really good job with getting people below-the-line; crew work, craftsmen, editors, all behind-the-scenes work,” said Ethan Tussey, interim director of GSU’s School Film, Media and Theatre. “We wanted more people that were above the line in the titles of the credits and things like that.”

Tussey said above-the-line positions typically include directors, writers, actors and those who influence the creative process.

Tussey doesn’t want students and alumni to wait for Hollywood to come to them. He wants to build the next generation of Hollywood here, with Georgia-grown talent, and wants alumni to be able to get any job in the film industry.

“And then, they don’t have to leave; they can stay here,” Tussey said. “Historically, the tax incentive has brought production here but the coming up with the story, and the talent that crafts the on-screen presence, that usually happens in New York and LA, and so we’re trying to build the capacity here in Georgia.”

RELATED: How changes to Georgia’s film tax credit would impact entertainment industry, Peach State’s economy

Those efforts appear to be working. After graduating in 2021, GSU alumni Timothy Richardson has worked as an actor, writer and director of photography.

“I shot my first feature, a myriad of short films, and now I’ve branched off into the commercial field, shooting around the greater area of Atlanta,” Richardson said, praising GSU for giving him the tools to succeed.

“The professors were really hands-on,” Richardson said. “I credit a lot of my early success to the professors who taught me the philosophy and the doctrine of moving images. That set me on the right path. I was very familiar when I got into the field.”