As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across America, Georgia’s multi-billion-dollar film industry is one step closer to relaunching. The Georgia Film Academy’s (GFA) is offering a first-ever COVID Compliance Course (CCC). Free to film and television production workers, casts, and crew, GFA’s CCC provides an unprecedented virtual training program of safety and sanitation best practices and procedures for anyone who works on a film set in Georgia. Created in 2015 to put Georgians to work in all aspects of the state’s explosive film industry, the GFA’s veteran film instructors have incorporated the most up-to-date protocols from the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health to create individualized, trade-specific crafts on film sets.
“We’re a partnership, a collaborative of the University System of Georgia at the Technical College System of Georgia, the labor unions, the global entertainment production industry, the State Leadership, the private sector, right, we all come together to build this business for Georgia,” says Jeffrey Stepakoff, Executive Director of the Georgia Film Alliance. “And again, this is a snapshot of why I believe the film and television production industry here in our state, and really the full entertainment business here in our state has been so successful. This partnership is how we roll here in Georgia, I like to say, so we took the same sensibility, the same culture, same way of doing things, and applied it to our new COVID compliance course.”
The two-part Covid Compliance Course is free. It’s a tool to help re-open Georgia’s film industry.
Meanwhile, the GFA courses are $125 per credit hour, times six credit hours, equating to $750. And the GFA will place each student in a paid internship against six credit hours. So basically, for $1500 bucks, Stepakoff says an interested student into a training program, where the pupil will have the opportunity to have a career that according to the Motion Picture Association of America, averages about $84,000 a year.
“Well, it’s primarily designed for professional craftspeople,” Stepakoff explained. “We want productions as they are, wherever they’re located in California, New York, anywhere in the world. Perhaps here in Georgia, we want productions to take this course give it to their crews. And understand that there’s there are safety protocols for working on our sound stages in our sets. So who should take it? Anybody who’s a professional craftsperson should take it initially, but we’re also giving it to our students. Obviously, in the first course, the fundamentals of safety and sanitation are the general courses. We’re sending this out to all around the university system right now, it’s basic knowledge embedded by the CDC, vetted by the Department of Public Health. We worked very closely with the IAA with the DGA with sag AFTRA with the Teamsters, with a lot of professional craftspeople to make sure that everybody is in agreement about how we can come back to work safely here in Georgia.”
Classes are offered for college credit through 22 University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia partner institutions. Students can take film and entertainment-oriented arts, craft, and career coursework through continuing education programs at several partner institutions and/or directly through the GFA as professional education. The GFA also offers training to high school teachers in GFA-developed courses, which serve as DOE-approved English Language Arts and Theater standards. The Georgia Film Academy has between 15 and 20 people who have been admitted into the program. The GFA also says the current crop of students will train at the University of Georgia in Athens, then in Fall 2021, those students will move down to Pinewood Studios, and they will be living in residence across the street at Pinewood forest, will they will be training with Georgia Film Academy instructors, they will be writing scripts and having them produced in the region, and they will be working with professionals at Pinewood Studios.
“We’re training our content creators, in this case at a graduate level, and we’re really working hard to produce their work so that we incentivize this talent stay here in our state,” Stepakoff said. Now, this is the first question cohort of the classes, but we intend to really build up this pipeline. So just like we have a collaborative as I mentioned earlier, and I may have been remiss in not mentioning that we have over 20 partner institutions now who participate in the film Academy. Similarly, we intend to build this up at the graduate level, and really build out this full ecosystem here. So we have writers, we have producers, we have craftspeople, and George becomes a full and complete entertainment capital.”