Forty of the first Georgia Film Academy graduates were honored today at Pinewood Studios on the soundstage where some of them got their first hands-on industry experience.
University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby, Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin, and Academy Executive Director Jeffrey Stepakoff were on hand to congratulate the students who pioneered this Academy. The ceremony was held at the Academy’s sound stage, which opened in April as part of the program’s “Semester on Set.”
Here’s what we learned at today’s event:
These grads are working. “We’re committed first to jobs for Georgians,” said Jeffrey Stepakoff, executive director of the Georgia Film Academy. That’s a strong statement that has already proven true. Each student in the Academy has the opportunity to work an internship on a Georgia film or television set, some of which turn directly into well-paying jobs.
Melinda Anderson, who participated in Gwinnett Technical College’s GFA program, interned in the costume department for “The Walking Dead.” After the internship, she was asked to stay on for the remainder of the season, and she’s just one of many successes in this young program’s history. “The film academy changed my life,” Melinda said. “I look forward to working more productions for many more years.”
The future is bright for GFA students, and Georgians across the state. Numbers don’t lie. In 2007 Georgia’s TV and film industry had a $242 million economic impact.
At today’s student certificate ceremony, Stepakoff said that the TV and film industry now has an economic impact more than $7 billion in Georgia, a 3,000-percent increase in just nine years. Over the next five years, the TV and film industry could generate up to 5,000 more jobs in Georgia.
Everybody wants in on the action, including Huckaby, who will retire as Chancellor at the end of the year.
“I’ll have a lot of free time,” Huckaby said with a grin. “Keep me in mind for any starring roles.”