Georgia Film Academy planning sound stage at Pinewood Atlanta Studios

The newly launched Georgia Film Academy has plans to build a 15,000-square-foot sound stage at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville, Ga.

The academy has signed a letter of intent for 10,000 square feet of classroom space at Pinewood, access to state-of-the art post-production and “resources to teach the full range of film and TV development. It’s also in serious talks with the studio to build a dedicated 15,000-square-foot sound stage it will market to professional productions. Construction is slated to be complete within six months.

Pinewood Atlanta is the first industry partner of the academy, according to Georgia Film Academy Director Jeff Stepakoff, who addressed members of the industry at a Georgia Production Partnership meeting on Oct. 6.

Stepakoff said the academy will be working not only with the University System of Georgia (USG) and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), but also industry partners like Pinewood to get students on real sets to work on “commercially viable projects.”

“We’re looking to make professional quality work,” Stepakoff said at the meeting. “…What we’re doing is akin to a teaching hospital. If you want to get people to work, if you want to get doctors to work you don’t send them off with patients. You have to put them in an environment where they can get real hands-on experience but still be in a teaching environment.”

Stepakoff said a second industry partner in Georgia is in the works, and emphasized that the academy will be statewide, not just Atlanta.

“The Georgia Film Academy belongs to all of us; it belongs to the state of Georgia,” Stepakoff said. “It belongs to the people from Dalton, people from Valdosta, people from Savannah and people from all over Atlanta. It belongs to the studios here… the Georgia Film Academy is seeking to work with all institutions as well as industry partners. And a model for that is Pinewood.”

In January 2016, the Georgia Film Academy will roll out pilot programs for two certificate courses designed to get aspiring film workers into the workforce. The first semester-long course includes 6 hours a week in classes, plus out-of-class production work. The second semester’s focus is on hands-on workshop training in independent moviemaking. Students will crew an entire film production and spend three hours a week per semester in class, plus weekend production work. These credit hours will then be accepted for degree programs at USG and TCSG.

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