There is no slowing down the “Midnight Train to Georgia” as television and movie production companies continue to flock to the Peach State. And with industry growth expected to generate 3,000 to 5,000 new jobs over the next few years, those companies are looking for skilled crew members to fill the void. That’s where the Georgia Film Academy (GFA) comes in.
What is GFA Certification?
The GFA is a unique-in-the-nation, statewide effort to train Georgians for lucrative jobs in film, and it will begin offering classes in January 2016 in partnership with the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). The pilot certification program is comprised of two courses specifically designed to provide students with on-set film production skills:
• The first course combines classroom instruction and hands-on experience with industry standard equipment.
• The second course is a semester on-set, where students learn and hone their craft while working on the crew of a professional production.
On-set workforce in high demand
“On-set film workers are needed, but even entry-level jobs require a very specific set of skills. The Georgia Film Academy Certification puts students on the fast track to gainful employment,” says GFA executive director, Jeffrey Stepakoff. "In response to the tremendous growth in the industry, Governor Nathan Deal and the State of Georgia have initiated an unprecedented, cooperative effort among all public higher education institutions to deliver an industry-recognized, professional training program.”
On average, industry workers can earn about $84,000 a year, but production companies have been having a hard time finding qualified local crew members to meet the high demand. The GFA’s certification process will train Georgians to work those jobs so that crews from outside the state won’t have to be brought in. Governor Deal touched on this same sentiment during the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative in August, hosted at Clayton State University.
"There are two ways to have permanency. One is to have the actual physical facilities that actually produce the films…that’s the multi-million dollar capital investment that gives you the permanency. The other permanency is to have a workforce that the industry can rely on and not have to bring them in from other parts of the country to do a production.”
Not only will the GFA provide hands-on, practical classes, students will have the opportunity to train as part of a professional or semi-professional production. The Academy is also teaming up with Pinewood Studios in Fayette County where a 10-room training facility will be housed. The site, which is across the street from Pinewood's complex, will be the future home of a 15,000-square foot sound stage that will be used by students enrolled in the program. The GFA – Pinewood relationship is expected to be the first of many “strategic industry partnerships”.
How Georgians can earn GFA Certification
Registration for the programs is open, and students currently enrolled at any USG Institution can register for the Georgia Film Academy courses and receive credit through their home institutions. Presently, Clayton State is the only institution in Georgia that offers a degree program that includes GFA Certification, as well as non-degree options. Space is limited for the Spring 2016 semester, but there are plans to expand the program in the Fall. For more information on registration, or to learn more about the Georgia Film Academy programs at Clayton State, please visit clayton.edu/georgia-film-academy-certification.
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