Atlanta begins filmmaking industry job training program

By Terry Shropshire, Managing Editor and Web Editor

It is certainly apropos that the greater Atlanta area would commence with an entertainment training program to harness and cultivate the burgeoning — if not exploding — base of residents who aspire to work in the industry.

Georgia is one of the three major movie-making epicenters of America, more specifically in and around the city of Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed is looking to capitalize off this enviable metropolitan asset. Subsequently, his office and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local (IATSE) 479 are launching the City of Atlanta Entertainment Training Program.

The program is the first job training program in the United States that focuses on helping the film industry build a talent pool of trained below-the-line workers with relevant experience.

“I am proud to support the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency and the Office of Entertainment’s efforts to facilitate employment opportunities for Atlanta residents in the film and television production industry,” said Mayor Reed. “Providing a trained below-the-line workforce is critical to the film industry’s growth in Atlanta and Georgia. This program will ensure that our residents and young people have access to learn from world-class professionals and acquire vital skills.”

Since 2008, Atlanta has played backdrop to more than 140 films, TV shows and reality shows, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, during the fiscal year 2015, production companies spent $1.7 billion on 248 projects, an increase from the $1.3 billion spent in fiscal year 2014 which was already a more than 500 percent increase from 2008.

Moreover, a film L.A. survey of primary filming locations conducted in 2014, Georgia was the third U.S. city to top the list, and it comes in No. 5 behind only California and New York and two international locations.

The program, which is a partnership of the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, IATSE Local 479, the film industry and the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA), is currently in its pilot phase, Reed’s office said.

“The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 479, is excited to be working with Mayor Kasim Reed the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency to introduce residents of Atlanta to the entertainment industry,” Mike Akins, IATSE Business Agent, said in a prepared statement. “It is our hope that we can help educate and train individuals to work in the Motion Picture Industry.”

This will no appear on production companies’ balance sheets. Atlanta’s Workforce Development Agency will identify qualified applicants for positions as trainees in motion picture and television productions in Atlanta. AWDA will also pay trainees’ wages for the length of the program, which is up to 17 weeks. Once trainees are accepted into the program, IATSE Local 479 will orient the trainees to the film industry through an intensive two-day workshop and work with production to place trainees on set.

It’s a great day for our community and local labor force when the Mayor’s Office, the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees, Atlanta Workforce Development Agency and the filmmaking community can collaborate to provide entry-level opportunities for City of Atlanta residents,” said LaRonda Sutton, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment. “This amazing program supports Mayor Reed’s vision of facilitating relationships between the film industry and City of Atlanta residents with the desire to take advantage of the program.”

The City of Atlanta Entertainment Training Program is organized through cohorts based on current productions that participate in the program, the Mayor’s office said. Depending on the production, the positions open to Atlanta residents vary, which means that the number of participants for each cohort will also vary.

Admission into the program is on a rolling basis. Atlanta residents who are interested in participating must be 18 years of age, have a valid Georgia Driver’s License and must register with AWDA and go through the intake process.

This year, the film industry in Georgia generated an economic impact of over $6 billion and directly employed more than 23,000 people, Reed’s office added.

For more information about the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, go to

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