GSW shoots first feature film in Americus

Alison Cantrell

MERICUS — The Georgia film and television industry is a large and prosperous entity, earning $5.1 billion this fiscal year. Georgia attracts film companies for reasons ranging from its varied geography to its tax incentives for film and television productions. Most recently, Georgia has been used as the filming location for scenes in movies such as the “Hunger Games” franchise and “Selma.”

Now that so many films are shot in Georgia, there is a demand for a workforce with the skills necessary to support these endeavors, but production companies that shoot in Georgia say they often struggle to find the workers they need.

One measure that is being taken to meet this need is the establishment of the Georgia Film Academy. In January, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that a portion of the 2015 state budget would fund the new initiative, which is expected to launch this fall as a collaborative effort between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia.

A new effort at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) is also preparing students for careers in the film industry.

The Department of Theater, Communication and Media Arts (TCMA) is now giving students the opportunity to experience the process of creating a movie, as it is currently shooting the department’s first major feature film.

The film, entitled “Which Way There,” is being directed by Joey Watson, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication and media arts at Georgia Southwestern.

The film follows a woman named Mavis and her experiences with time travel. Each time she awakens, she finds she has either been sent forward to the year 2115, or back to the year 1915. As Mavis is hurdled through time, she not only has different identities in each time period but also different love interests.

“It seems like she’s trying to decide between picking a time period or a certain man in each time period. At the end, she ultimately picks herself and what she wants to do, not what she’s supposed to do,” said Natalie Donner, the actress who portrays Mavis.

Donner is an Atlanta-based actress and has a degree in theater from Louisiana State University. While Donner was working on her undergraduate degree at LSU, Watson was also attending the university to work on his doctoral in communication studies, though they had known each other previously.

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