The global ambitions of Georgia’s emerging filmmakers were front and center at the World Affairs Council of Young Leaders event “Reeling Out Georgia Film to the World” held on Aug. 9 in Buckhead.
Panelist Sheoyki Jones, senior manager of Creative Industries at the city’s economic development agency Invest Atlanta, said that her associates attended the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in France and successfully encouraged international production companies to film in Georgia.
The panel was moderated by Susanna Spiccia, the executive director of re:Imagine/ATL, a non-profit that provides Atlanta teenagers with mentorship opportunities and resources in film and digital media to build an ethnically diverse workforce.
In addition to Ms. Jones and Ms. Spiccia, panelists included Drew Sawyer, partner and post-producer at Moonshine, a post-production company including an experienced team of artists, supervisors and technicians and Diamonde Williams, CEO and founder of Blossom, a digital streaming network for women of color.
The heart of the discussion was the panelists’ zeal for storytelling and their aspirations to help Georgia’s creative talent develop compelling content for diverse audiences no matter what corner of the world the stories came from. “When you see yourself represented it gives you hope,” said Ms. Williams, who also highlighted women of color as a market for content creators because they stream “10 percent more content than any other demographic.”
Ms. Spiccia’s overview of the financial underpinnings of the state’s film industry included encouraging statistics. She began by discussing the 20 percent tax credit the state of Georgia offers film projects that spend at least $500,000 on production, adding that Georgia gained $9.6 billion from the film industry during the 2017 fiscal year.
The panelists and attendees were interested to learn more about how Georgia’s creative talent can benefit from state sponsored business relationships.
They also called for a rebranding of Atlanta as a cinematic city and collectively rejected the notion that Atlanta was becoming “the Hollywood of the South.”
“Stop looking at us as a transactional city,” said Ms. Jones, a call that the other panelists readily took up criticizing the view that Georgia has experienced its success primarily because of cost benefits as opposed to the depth of its local talent.
The Young Leaders event was well timed, following on the heels of an announcement by the city of Atlanta of a New Creative Industries Loan Fund, a joint project between the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment and Invest Atlanta to assist the city’s independent content creators and creative entrepreneurs.