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Dekalb program sets students up for success in Georgia’s entertainment industry

Dekalb's student program includes a film festival that honors student productions.

Myles-Anthony Johnson, age 17, asked all the right questions, and that’s exactly the point:

How do I get involved?

What degrees would help me get into the entertainment industry?

What are some of the jobs that I might not know about?

Participating in a recent Zoom edition of the Student Entertainment Expert Speaker Series, he was among a group of students questioning professionals in Georgia’s entertainment industry.

As a junior at the DeKalb School of the Arts, he’s blossomed into an advocate for the next generation of Georgia’s film, television and entertainment production industries.

“I’ve learned that you need to go to events, introduce yourself and ask to stay in the loop about things,” Myles-Anthony says. “I want to pass the information I’ve gathered along so that others in my community can seek the same opportunities.”

He’s part of a growing group of youths participating in the Dekalb County Youth Commission, a program in its twelfth year that helps prepare high school students for entertainment industry work, among other opportunities in their communities.

Its programs range from an annual film festival — currently paused because of the pandemic — to Zoom gatherings that link students to entertainment industry professionals such as local Art Director Omar Foster and Key Costumer Gee Gee Smith to get an up-close-and personal interaction that allows them an opportunity to learn about their experiences.

“The program has been exceptionally successful,” says Shelbia Jackson, Director of Dekalb Entertainment Commission. “Students are now able to learn about jobs behind the camera and opportunities for work right here in Georgia.”

Some of the topics covered in this year’s Student Entertainment Expert Talk Series include: The Power of Set Design, The Script Makes the Movie and The Logistics of Production.

In 2020, DeKalb Entertainment Commission hosted its second annual student film festival at the AMC North Dekalb 16 Theater in North DeKalb Mall complete with a red-carpet experience, students dressed to the nines, and awards such as “Best Screenplay,” “Best Actor,” “Best Sound,” “Best Director,” and even “Audience Choice.” Last year’s event featured 30 films produced by more than 180 students representing 12 Dekalb County schools.

The program has partnered with Savannah College of Art & Design and the DeKalb County School System for multiple events, as well as Georgia Piedmont Technical College, which assists with speakers, and Blackhall Studios, which hosted a Saturday Speaker Series to highlight film and TV production job opportunities.

The Commission is planning its third Student Film Festival in February 2022 in addition to more events in its popular Virtual Entertainment Expo Panel Series that will launch on May 18, 2021.

“It’s more than a youth program, it’s an experience and gateway into something more,” Shelbia says. “The impact is deep, and it brings the kids together.”

Learn more about the Dekalb County Entertainment Commission, go to



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