When he entered the University of Georgia as a freshman, Kyle Hamlin had decided opera was his future.
“I thought I wanted to be an opera singer," he says. "I realized that was not the path for me, so I switched to film and TV."
Now he is a graduate student in UGA's recently launched Master of Fine Arts program in Film, Television and Digital Media.
Students spend the first year in Athens and focus on writing, directing and producing. The second year is spent hands-on at Trilith Studios near Fayetteville.
"I applied to the MFA program on a whim and got accepted the day before the world shut down," he says, referring to COVID-19. "I wasn't sure I wanted to go, but I realized things weren't going to be happening, so I accepted. I'm happy with my decision."
Having switched majors, Kyle didn't have the experience the other grad students did, nor was he sure which route he wanted to take.
"I realized pretty quickly that I liked screenwriting," he says. "The program is so well-rounded that I was able to find out what I'm passionate about." He has written one screenplay and is working on an original TV series.
His long-term career goal is to be a showrunner for a TV series. In the short term, he'd like to be a writer's assistant, which most likely will take him to LA.
“Currently all of the creative stuff starts out there," he says. "I'd love to stay in Georgia because that's where my family is and it's cheaper to live here."
One goal of the UGA graduate program is to change that perception by producing a creative workforce that can complement the production infrastructure that has built up around the state in recent years.
To get a head start, Kyle found his own internship at Tomorrow Pictures in Atlanta where he is curating five years of footage filmed for a documentary about a transgender girl in California.
His other hands-on experience is coming with time at Trilith Studios as part of the graduate program, an important environment for networking, he says.
"Compared to opera, this is a more practical career option," he says. "It will definitely be tough, but you have to have this philosophy: This is what I am supposed to do. People have film careers all the time. Why not me?”