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How to start in the Atlanta Film Industry

The film industry is often referred to as one of the last industries where a network is crucial. There is almost no way to make a name for yourself without climbing the ladder and paying your dues. But how does one go about starting in the industry if they have no family or business connections in film? This is a guide for entering the Atlanta Film Industry.

1. Production Assistant

A production assistant (PA) is probably one of the most available and entry-level positions a person can have in film. The job itself is a catch-all. First, we need to discuss the types of PA's and which is bested suited to you. There are two sets of production assistants: Set PAs and Office PAs.

Set Production Assistants are typically what people think a PA is. These people are on set while a show or film is in production and help with a multitude of tasks. They work directly under the Assistant Director and Key Set PA. As a PA, tasks I often dealt with as a PA are distributing walkies, locking down sets, grabbing snacks from Crafty, and basic setup and breakdown. To learn more about being a Set PA, click here.

An Office Production works in the office working under the Production Coordinator. While some duties overlap, like running to Crafty. A majority of their job handles working with schedules, sending emails, and reviewing documents as needed. They ensure that the office runs smoothly.

Being a production assistant requires you to fulfill a variety of tasks quickly for everyone on set or in the office. When deciding which position to choose, you should look at where your end goal is. What is your dream career in the future? You should work as a Set PA for those who want to work in production in a position such as Director, Grip, Sound, etc. This experience will allow you to learn more about a film's production stage and see those who currently work in your field in action. If you have more of a passion for developing a movie, such as writing and working in the art department, an Office PA is the right choice for you. Regardless of the position you get hired for, there is an excellent opportunity to learn and network in either of these positions.

2. Student Projects

Many young film students are working on projects in Atlanta to build their portfolios or turn in for a grade. This an excellent opportunity to get work experience without needing an extensive background in film. On the other hand, student projects typically do not need a person like a Production Assistant to do various tasks. They are looking for individuals with knowledge on the role they want to fill, such as grips and sound, so you will need an understanding of the position you want to serve. Student projects are great opportunities to learn and might even spark inspiration or connections within the industry.


Another great place to start is the Georgia Film Academy (GFA). We spoke with Kate McArdle, Director of Film Workforce Development at the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, to learn more about the academy and its opportunities for emerging filmmakers. McArdle stated that GFA is best suited for those interested in working in production as a part of the crew. The Georgia Film Academy offers courses in-house, and institutions such as Georgia State University awards college credit. In addition, GFA is notorious for getting young creatives internships and opportunities on sets for major feature films like Avengers.

4. Film Festivals

For someone who wants to work in development, working with or submitting work to a film festival is a great option. Their primary focus is to help emerging artists and bring about innovation within the industry. Not only do some festivals offer grants, development tracks, and internships, they often have free resources to build your knowledge of the industry and ability to construct a story. Attending courses and competing in a festival like the Sundance Film Festival not only improves your work but develops your creativity as an artist.

If you're looking for an administrative role, festivals constantly bring on interns to help coordinate events, talent scouting, and proofreading. According to McArdle, the development of film is typically based in LA, but as of right now, many opportunities are remote. This is an excellent opportunity for Atlanta-based filmmakers to take these positions and gain experience while remaining close to home.

In all honesty, working your way into the film industry takes patience. You have to apply for internships and submit your work to festivals until it pays off. That is not to say you have to miraculously stumble upon an opportunity. There is a role in the industry for you, and your voice matters. With the right tools and a self-starter attitude, you are bound to make a name for yourself.

To learn more about the industry visit these pages:

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