Oz Magazine September/October 2017

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CONTRIBUTORS Christopher Campbell

Tia Powell (Group Publisher) Gary Powell

Christopher Campbell is a writer specializing in nonfiction film and television. He is the creator of the documentary review website Nonfics and an editor for Film School Rejects and Movies.com. He has also contributed to Indiewire, MTV News, Paste, New York magazine and Documentary Magazine. He has a Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and now resides in Georgia with his wife and children. www.nonfics.com

Editor-in-Chief: Gary Powell

Associate Editor:

Zachary Vaudo


Michael R. Eilers Martha Ronske Kris Thimmesch

Lea Faske


Creative Director: Kelvin Lee

Kelvin Lee Michael R. Eilers Ted Fabella (Oz Logo Design)

Cover Image: Lea Faske

Cover Artist Lea Faske is a digital illustrator in the entertainment industry, currently employed with Hi-Rez Studios. Before entering the industry, she achieved her Master of Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design, where she studied sequential art. While most of her present work is dedicated to her profession, her personal art aims to illustrate that which cannot be seen in everyday life, and often dips into the genres of fantasy and surrealism. www.leafaske.com

Christopher Campbell Dov Jacobson Isadora Pennington

Production and Design:

Feature Story: Rev Me Up, Covington, p.46

Dov Jacobson

Voices: 12 Steps Toward Immersion, p.32 Dov Jacobson founded GamesThatWork, Atlanta’s leadingedge digital media studio. Launched in 2002 and dedicated to “play with purpose,” GamesThatWork applies videogame science and art to solve real problems of human performance. The studio’s clients include leading corporations. The studio is involved in several VR /AR/MR projects and has released award-winning titles in each.

Isadora Pennington

Cover Story: Put Your Feet Up, p.38

Isadora is a photojournalist and multidisciplinary artist. Born in Nashville, TN, she spent her early life moving often between states on the East coast, before settling in Atlanta to attend Georgia State University, where she got her BA in Studio Art. She has worked as a designer and photographer for local print publications, and has also discovered a joy for writing, specifically when it’s about artists and their work. A lover of all things creative, she stays busy with new projects that span a broad spectrum of mediums. www.isadorapennington.com

www.ozmagazine.com www.facebook.com/ozmagazine www.twitter.com/ozpublishing www.instagram.com/ozmagazine (404) 633-1779 Oz Magazine is published bi-monthly by Oz Publishing, Inc. 2566 Shallowford Road Suite 104, #302 Atlanta, GA 30345 Copyright © 2017 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Oz Magazine

Seeks Next Generation of Artists

See page 66






Oz Scene

A compilation of recent news and hot projects, from and about industry leaders.


54 BronzeLens Film Festival


56 TERMINUS Conference & Festival


12 Steps Towards Immersion


60 Fujinon Lunch & Learn Lens

How I Got Into The Business


38 Cover Story



60 Behind the Scenes Inaugural Gala


Let Me Give You My Card



Feature Story


Next Generation Presenting Georgia’s emerging artists

Rev Me Up, Covington The Past, Present, and Future of the Hollywood of the South


58 Barbizon Lighting Company’s Summer Grilling Series 59 SCAD AnimationFest


Put Your Feet Up Setting the scene from stem to stern with these growing Georgia prop houses

52 GPP Summer Industry Party


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Graphs courtesy of FilmL.A.

Georgia Ranks Fourth in Pilot Production By Zachary Vaudo


ot on the heels of its Number One ranking for feature film locations worldwide (2016), Georgia has been ranked fourth in television pilot production. FilmL.A.’s 2017 Pilot Production report counted 173 broadcast, cable and digital pilots, including 109 dramas and 64 comedies last year; 12 of these filmed in Georgia. The Peach State came in fourth

behind California (68 pilots), British Columbia (21 pilots) and New York (24 pilots). Ontario had five pilots, New Mexico had six and Louisiana had five. FilmL.A.’s report also examines straightto-series show orders and digital pilot projects in production: a total of 65 network, cable and digital shows were ordered straight-to-series

in the 2016-17 cycle. Cable networks put 29 shows into production, while digital networks launched 27 shows and broadcast networks launched nine shows straight-to-series. Georgia holds its number four ranking from the 2015-2016 cycle. The FilmL.A. report did note, however, that the overall number of pilots made this year is two dozen fewer than normal. Tyler Perry. Photo credit to Lester Cohen/WireImage

Tyler Perry Strikes Deal with Viacom By Nicola Breslauer


eorgia film mogul Tyler Perry has signed a major deal with Viacom to produce 90 episodes for Viacom networks. Viacom will have distribution rights to his short-form video content starting in 2019, when his contract with the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) expires. In addition, the Paramount Pictures group within the Viacom conglomerate will have f irst-look rights on Perry’s feature-film pitches, effective immediately. Perry’s contract with Viacom currently lasts through 2024. 6

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Many believe that this could be a blow to OWN and a great help for Viacom, following a rough 2016 that resulted in the removal of longtime Viacom chief executive Phillipe Dauman. The New York Times reported, “This year a new chief executive, Robert M. Bakish, outlined a plan to embrace the company’s flagship brands, including BET. The deal with Mr. Perry is a way to capitalize on the star power he brought to OWN.” Bakish commented, “Tyler is a prolific creative force, and I’m excited that this collaboration will bring his signature

humor and powerful storytelling to Viacom’s audiences while further cementing BET’s position as the leading home for bold, relevant African-American programming and scripted content.” Perry has brought new viewership and success to OWN with shows he has a hand in such as The Haves and Have Nots, a draw that Viacom hopes to capitalize on. Media analysts have suggested that Viacom is finally investing properly in some of their networks, and competing to get their cut of the market share back.


“Hollywood's most elegant talent trailers and motorhomes” -Los Angeles Times


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan). Photo credit Gene Page/AMC

AMC Seals Deal with Walking Dead Studio By Zachary Vaudo


MC purchased Raleigh Studios (d/b/a Riverwood Studios), home of The Walking Dead, from Senoia Enterprises, according to Alan Wexler (CEO, Databank Inc.). The network bought the nearly 80,000 square foot studio for $8.25 million, officially closing the deal in July. This marks a long-term investment in both The Walking Dead and the town of Senoia for AMC, coupling with producer Scott Gimple’s stated desire to keep the show running for “up to twenty seasons.”

AMC conduc ted the purchase of the eight-building studio under an LLC, Woodbury Studios, a reference to the fictional town that was heavily featured in season three of the show. Senoia Enterprises sold the studio under the LLC Kudzu Productions Inc. The Walking Dead has revived the town of Senoia, with Senoia Enterprises rebuilding its main street, tourism at an all-time high due to the show, property values doubling, and merchandise businesses sprouting up. Senoia

city councilman Maurice Grover said the show has been “an economic juggernaut” for the town. Scott Tigchelaar of Senoia Enterprises estimates that it will take $100 million in investments to complete the current master plan, which includes developing a residential area in what is currently the walled-off city of Alexandria. The Walking Dead is set to return with Season 8 this October.

Georgia Post Production Set for Growth By Nicola Breslauer


s the new entertainment tax credit expansion (House Bill 199) became law on July 1st, people are preparing for it to kick into effect January 1st, 2018. The new expansion will cover post production work, aiming to keep even more parts of the filming process in Georgia. This legisla-


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

tion will apply a 20% tax credit on qualifying expenses in post production. Production companies also have the ability to earn a bonus 10% credit on post production spending that has occurred in Georgia. Companies must spend at least $500,000 in a tax year, as well as maintain a $250,000 or

more payroll in Georgia in order to qualify for the benefits of this expansion. The state-wide cap will be $10 million dollars per year until 2023. The new bill should create more post production opportunities in Georgia, creating a great incentive to stay local throughout the whole project.


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Tabitha Mason-Elliott, Daniel Sattelmeyer, and Ann Daykin Mohammadione

Julia Merrill

Nine Mile Circle Welcomes Julia Merrill


ine Mile Circle has hired Julia Merrill as executive producer. Merrill, whose background includes nine years as a writer/ producer for Cartoon Network, will lead client relations, business development, and project management. She will also work with Nine Mile Circle editor and owner Kyle Kramb to implement the company’s expansion plans, including a move to a larger facility this fall. “We’re excited to have Julia join us,” Kramb said. “We believe our clients are going to benefit greatly from her dedication, knowledge and efficiency, and they will love her passion for the creative process.” Merrill has worked in Atlanta’s media and entertainment industry for 15 years. A graduate of Georgia State University, she joined Cartoon Network in 2002, writing and producing promos and other broadcast media for the network’s shows and for advertising partners, including McDonald’s and Sony Pictures. For the past three years, she has worked as a freelance writer, producer, and project manager, handling a wide range of assignments for local agencies, producers, post houses and digital studios. She began her career as an editor. “Post is where it all comes together,” Merrill said. “I got my start as an editor and have always valued the creative aspects of post. I enjoy working with schedules and budgets in ways that help clients achieve their creative goals.” She added that she is impressed with the company that Kramb has built and is eager to help it grow. “I love that Nine Mile is an artist owned and operated company,” she observed. “Kyle is a great leader and has assembled an excellent team. This company has wonderful client relationships and I look forward to strengthening and adding to them.”


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BARK BARK Adds Three Partners


acked by new investment, several key employees at BARK BARK have taken equity positions in the company: creative director Daniel Sattelmeyer, head of production Tabitha Mason-Elliott, and studio executive Ann Daykin Mohammadione now collectively own a majority stake in BARK BARK. Karen Grant, SVP of Client Partnership, retains her equity position as an officer of the company as well. “I’m thrilled and proud that the incredible management team that has worked so hard to build this firm will now run the business, especially at this time of great recognition and

overall success,” said Brian Tolleson, BARK BARK’s founder & managing partner, who will stay on for the next several years, continuing to contribute to the company and working handson with BARK BARK’s loyal clients. In speaking about the industry at large, Tolleson remarks, “I’m hoping this inspires more studio owners to invest in the future by sharing ownership with key employees. What’s your real legacy? We have a responsibility to share success, and help move loyal people forward, otherwise we’re just ‘the boss’ in the Dolly Parton song. I think that empowerment is what future-thinking firms look like.”

Matchbook Media Group Sponsors American Film Market


atchbook Media Group (MMG) will sponsor the 2017 American Film Market & Conferences in Santa Monica, and will have an office at the Loews Hotel for the duration of AFM. “We are excited to be the first independently-owned Georgia company to sponsor AFM,” says MMG founder Taylor Owenby. “At MMG, we see an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate with global producers and distributors of content and want to bring back better opportunities for local industry professionals. Our board of directors and advisors all agree that Georgia needs a resource to develop content and teams above-the-line, so that is what we are doing.” MMG will host the opening night reception at AFM on November 3rd. There, company partners will showcase what MMG offers in Georgia for the global entertainment communi-

ty, in the company of MMG’s board of directors and advisory board members from Hollywood. MMG Studios will also be producing and selling content throughout the year and at markets like AFM. “As a producer, one of the largest problems I’ve found is local content is not going anywhere,” says Owenby. “We are a location state, with great infrastructure and incentives, but few people are investing or selling content from Georgia. MMG is currently in a position to solve that problem. The first thing most studios do when they open is throw up a gate. At MMG, we are opening a door to help our community.” MMG held a soft launch event at Eagle Rock Studios this past June when it created and produced the 2017 Creative + Investor Summit. Together with strategic and capital partners, MMG is opening up its own creative studio workspace.


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September / October 2017



Rob Hardy Receives AAFCA Award


he African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) honored the career achievements of producer/director Rob Hardy during its 6th Annual SYNERGY event in Atlanta. A signature program of the organization, AAFCA SYNERGY provides an opportunity for creative professionals in Atlanta and the Southeast to connect and collaborate with their peers. “Rob Hardy was an early proponent of creating films and other creative content in the Southeast and is a living testament to the immense opportunities that are possible for a growing number of producers, directors and content creators based in the Southeast,” says A AFCA president and co-founder Gil

Rober tson. “Atlanta’s position as a player in film and TV production is now undeniable, and SYNERGY is honored to celebrate game-changers like Rob Hardy with a platform that encourages, inspires and connects others who are following that lead and further strengthen the region’s prime position.” Hardy is responsible for a successful pipeline of films (created alongside one-time producing partner Will Packer) that include Trois, The Gospel, Think Like a Man, and Think Like a Man Too. For Trois and The Gospel, he pulled extra duty as director. In television, he has amassed an impressive resume, directing episodes of such popular TV shows as Power, Blindspot, Criminal Minds, The Flash, and The

Vampire Diaries, among others. Recently, BET picked up the second season of The Quad, starring Anika Noni Rose as the president of a black college, which Hardy co-created and for which he serves as an executive producer. Previous AAFCA SYNERGY Award recipients include Tirrell Whittley and Nick Nelson, principals of the media marketing company, Liquid Soul; Charles Humbard, founder and president of UPtv; Roger Bobb, executive producer of the popular sitcoms, Rickey Smiley Show and Mann and Wife; Brett Dismuke and Eric Tomosunas, principals of Swirl Films; and Mark Swinton, producer at Tyler Perry Studio.

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September / October 2017


OZCETERA Brent Brooks with students at Blank Stage

New Classes at Blank Stage By Zachary Vaudo


lank Stage Acting Studio has unveiled four new classes for actors. In addition to the current schedule of classes, Blank Stage now offers a new beginning teen class taught by Anthony Veller, Jr.; a new short form improv class taught by founder Brent Brooks; a new beginning adult class on Thursdays offered by vice president Lilian Brooks; and an onset production class coming by Anthony Veller, Sr. These classes will blend elements of improv, on-camera acting, competitive sessions, and more. “The new classes will be exciting as many of our blank stagers have never left us since they started,” says Brent Brooks. “They can serve as studio mentors to the new actors. Helping others is a beautiful thing.”


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Chicken small movie poster and stills

Big Chicken, Small Movie By Zachary Vaudo


wesome Inc. and Wieden+Kennedy banded together to create Big Chicken Small Movie on behalf of Kentucky Fried Chicken, premiering the film in August. The new animated short pays homage to Marietta, Georgia’s beloved 56 -foot-tall s teel fowl, The Big Chicken. In the film, a young boy who’s a bit of an outcast finds a friend in the gigantic steel chicken, and they go on an adventure in North Georgia. “The Big Chicken has been a local pop culture icon since 1963. There was a Big Chicken board game in the 70s, and for years the Marietta History Museum’s most popular souvenirs have been Big Chicken shirts, ornaments and even bird houses. On New Year’s

Eve, Marietta doesn’t drop a disco ball, they drop a Big Chicken,” said Anthony Gianino, KFC franchisee owner and VP of marketing for KBP Foods. “And, now, there’s Big Chicken Small Movie: a sweet celebration of a Georgia town and a giant steel chicken.” The creative team from Wieden+Kennedy, KFC’s creative agency, is from the Atlantaarea, and Georgia’s own Awesome Inc. was tapped to bring this to life, keeping the film very Atlanta-centric. “I think every Atlantan has a tender spot for that giant bird, so it was an honor to try to do it proud. Also, I’m excited to show all my friends from high school that I made it to the top… even if it’s just the top of the Big Chicken,”

says copywriter Mike Egan, who was born and raised in Atlanta. The beloved Big Chicken KFC restaurant recently underwent a $2.2 million renovation, reopening to the public in May. “I remember the f irst time I saw the Big Chicken. I was driving around Marietta doing errands and wham! There it was. I thought it was so amazing that I stopped to take a photo and post to my Instagram,” relates Awesome’s design director Craig Sheldon. “It’s been really fun and an honor to work on a short revolving around this iconic piece of Atlanta history. Wieden+Kennedy had a really inspiring vision for the project, and it’s been a joy collaborating with them throughout the process.”

Keslow Camera Acquires Clairmont Camera


eslow Camera has acquired Clairmont Camera and its Vancouver and Toronto operations. The move will more than quadruple Keslow Camera’s anamorphic and vintage lens inventory, and add a substantial range of custom camera equipment to the company’s extensive portfolio. Simultaneously, Clairmont founder Denny Clairmont, one of the industry’s most respected talents in front and behind the camera, announced his retirement. C o m p a n y f o u n d e r a n d C E O Ro b e r t Keslow said, “This acquisition perfectly aligns with Keslow Camera’s mission: to never stop growing, never stop learning, and never stop improving. The expansion into the two busiest Canadian markets delivers on our clients’ ongoing requests for us to service them in more areas of the world.” Keslow Camera will retain the talented support staff and experienced team at Clairmont’s


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Denny Clairmont

Vancouver and Toronto facilities, who have been offering professional digital and film cameras, lenses and accessories to the filmmaking community since the 1980s. All operations within California will eventually be consolidated to Keslow Camera’s headquarters in Culver City. Clairmont noted that this deal also serves as his endorsement. “Clairmont Camera is my

life’s work and I never stopped searching for innovative ways to serve our clients. I have long respected Robert Keslow and the team at Keslow Camera for their integrity, quality of management, best-in-class customer service, and successful performance. I am confident they are the right company to honor my heritage and founding vision going forward,” said Clairmont. “We are honored to have earned Denny Clairmont’s trust, and recognize the work and innovation that he and his great team have brought to the industry over the past 70 years,” added Keslow’s chief operating officer Dennis McDonald. “To be able to offer our personalized level of service in more locations, with a wider range of technology to serve the needs of the creative community, we’re poised to elevate the Keslow experience for current and new customers.”


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September / October 2017



UNHEARD/OF Ignites New ODESZA Music Video By Nicola Breslauer


NHEARD/OF director Dan Brown brings sci-f i to ODESZA’s new music video, Line of Sight. Working with other great post/ VFX specialists like World Famous, Atlanta’s UNHEARD/OF created the new music video for ODEZSA, offering a juxtaposition of sci-fi within a tropical paradise, matching the music in unique ways. The storyline of the song follows a boy and a robot stuck on a lonely island. “The track is so big and open it just felt like it was tailor made for putting a story under it,” Brown says. “I focused on trying to convey something that was serious with a little melancholy but would ultimately be about hope and the human spirit to adapt and survive. In many ways, I like to think of it like a parable with a science fiction twist, but at the core it’s an adventure story: a kid lost in the jungle trying to live another day where he gets help from a robot instead of a pack of wolves.” Most of the music video was shot over three days in Hawaii before going to post production. “Along with the challenges you’d expect from shooting in the Hawaiian tropical


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

rainforest with a small crew, the VFX required a complex, multidisciplinary approach and a whole lot of planning,” recalls Casey Steele, head of production at World Famous. “Still, all challenges were handled by a robust and talented post team, and thankfully we had the resources at the ready to really play and explore the art of it all.”

O D E S Z A m e m b e r s C l ay K n i g h t a n d Harrison Mills had an easy time picking Brown for the project: he created the music video It’s Only a few years back, and they were thrilled with his work. The company added a special treat for Brown and ODESZA fans: a behind the scenes style video has been released showing what they go through to create a music video.


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Ben Dolphin

Dan Reichart

Fresh Buzz at Fizz


izz City Films’ creative roster keeps growing: in addition to new arrival Peter Mattson earlier this year, Fizz welcomes Ben Dolphin and Dan Reichard to its city limits. Dolphin is formerly an instructor at the NYU School of the Arts with a work history including L’Oréal, Olay, Dove, Aquafina, and more. Reichard comes to Fizz City on the business side of things, joining Fizz to increase sales. “With such an infectiously positive attitude and drive for all things media related, there is no one else that could helm the FCF business ship better than Dan,” say Fizz City co-founder Mark Simon. Via silverscreenrentals.com

Silver Screen Opens in Georgia By Nicola Breslauer


ilver Screen Rentals, based out of Louisiana, has launched a division in Georgia to help service the booming film industry. Silver Screen has been in business since 2009 and worked with over 350 film projects. When film producers Dave Pomier and Bryan Wright acquired the company earlier this year, they relocated some employees to Atlanta and hired a few locals. Silver Screen rents location equipment like tents, air conditioners, generators, tables and chairs, flooring and makeup necessities, filling needs for Georgia and Louisiana productions.


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OZCETERA Tris Sicignano

Surge Wraps First Year


ndependent media cooperative Surge Television celebrates its first year of operation. Co-founded by Tris Sicignano and Klarque Garrison, the network broadcasts series, documentaries, films, red carpet, and festival coverage, with support of content creators from the UK, US, Canada and Italy. As Surge Television brings year one to a close, Sicignano says, “Our second year is going to be a really, really big year. We are not only revamping our website and channel, we are also adding music, animation, films and more.” Noting that women account for about 23% of executive producers, and that African-American women account for an even smaller portion of that number, Sicignano states, “I had been waiting most of my career for my opportunity. It’s a tough industry and you have to not just take opportunities: you also create opportunities.”

September / October 2017



Blood, Sweat, and Honey


ong-time, film industry veterans Jeff Dowd and Alex Nohe launched Blood Sweat Honey, a comprehensive consulting agency specializing in providing strategic counsel to indie filmmakers, offering such services as producer representation, film festival strategy, script and post production creative consulting, theatrical release, hybrid distribution and marketing. The inspiration for “The Dude” in the Coen brothers’ cult favorite The Big Lebowski, Dowd has been prominent in the indie film circuit for more than 45 years. A writer, exhibitor, distributor, film festival director, producer and producer’s representative (as well as a founding member of the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival) Dowd is a nationally recognized authority on scriptwriting, marketing, distribution and exhibition. He has consulted on a diverse array of films, including Blood Simple, The Black Stallion, Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, War Games, Hoosiers, Desperately Seeking Susan, Kissing Jessica Stein, The Blair Witch Project and Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, among many others. Currently, Dowd and colleagues are evolving storytelling, media and activism with the interactive transmedia series Our Classic Tales that Fuel Our Future. Nohe is a film distributor, filmmaker and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of executive and management experience in the film business with broad-based expertise and relationships with talent agencies, managers, publicity firms, festival programming, event producing, film production, post production, marketing and theatrical distribution. Most recently, Nohe was a partner in Circus Road Films where he helped shepherd more than 100 films into distribution. Prior to that, he ran the theatrical distributor Walking Shadows. Nohe has worked with some of the world’s most noteworthy filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan on Following, Don Coscarelli on Bubba Ho-Tep and Bill Condon on Gods & Monsters, assisting with representation, distribution and box office success.

MTV’s Vault Project Chooses Crawford


iacom tapped Crawford Media Services earlier this year for its MTV Vault Project. The MTV Vault Project transforms MTV’s footage tape library into a curated, digital library. Once relevant content was selected and digitized, the project team needed descriptive metadata, including memorable moments, artists, song titles, interview topics and keywords for all digitized resources, and selected Metaforce by Crawford Media Services for the task. “Because it utilizes an experienced, distributed workforce of media contractors, Metaforce is able to deliver the hyper-efficient results outlined by Viacom,” said Corinne Whitney, director of content services for Metaforce. “Our skilled team accesses the Viacom content through a secure, proprietary platform, using custom-built, cloud-based tools. A key differentiator of the service is the ability to centrally manage tasks, files, and metadata services. As content and metadata needs change, so too does the allocation of Metaforce staff to the project.”


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


September / October 2017


OZCETERA Sarah Jones

Verdict for Sarah Jones By Nicola Breslauer


he parents of Sarah Jones recently won a major lawsuit against railroad company CSX. In 2014, Sarah Jones was tragically killed after the director of Midnight Rider instructed his crew to film on a railroad bridge in Wayne County. While some of the crew were on a trestle to film the scene, a train came down at nearly 60 mph blaring its horn for 33 seconds before colliding with seven people working on the film. The director has served jail time for trespassing onto the railroad bridge, and it was argued by the Jones’ attorney that the crew was unaware they were not permitted to enter the area. The director, Randall Miller, served one year in jail following his guilty plea for involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing. After seeking justice from those responsible from the production team, the parents turned to the railroad in a lawsuit claiming they could have done more to prevent such an incident. CSX’s attorneys insisted the collision was not the company’s fault, and that they were not


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

responsible for the incident, as they had denied permission for access to the director twice. However, the Jones’ lawyer argued that since multiple CSX trains had passed by where the crew were earlier in the day, that they should have been aware of the crew being there and informed others to prevent any incidents. “Despite the fact that multiple CSX trains passed the Midnight Rider cast and crew on February 20, with those individuals in view of the trains’ operators, no warning was given to the subsequent train that ultimately caused Sarah’s death,” the lawsuit says. The railroad workers say they were not legally obligated to report them, and did not assume the crew would put themselves in danger as they did. CSX’s request to have the case dropped before trial was denied by Chatham County State Court Judge Gregory Sapp, who said the jury would be charged with deciding “whether the trespassers were anticipated or discovered.” The jury found $11.2 million to be the total value of Jones’ life as well as her pain and suffering. Additionally, the jury found that CSX was

primarily liable for the accident and should pay 35% of the total judgment, totally $3.9 million. “CSX is deeply sympathetic to the terrible loss suffered by the family of Ms. Sarah Jones, but respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the jury today and will appeal,” CSX said in statement. The jury decided that about $2 million should be received for pain and suffering, and another $9.2 million for economic losses. “Elizabeth and I have spent the last three-plus years wanting to understand how our daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Jones, tragically lost her life,” Richard and Elizabeth Jones stated. The parents also mentioned that they wanted this lawsuit to bring awareness to preventing incidents during production, to shed light on the safety issues of sets and filming. The film Midnight Rider was intended to be about the life of Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band, but production halted after the tragic incident. Gregg Allman later sued the film’s producers as well, saying they had lost the rights to tell his story after the young woman’s death, before settling out of court.

OZCETERA Atlanta Beauty Snob’s Mobile Salon

Atlanta Beauty Snob Rolls Out


tlanta Beauty Snob unveiled its new luxury mobile venture, Mobile Beauty Concierges. A full service mobile salon that can address set needs as well as on-location services, the high-tech van offers mobilized beauty services in comfort. Atlanta Beauty Snob is powered by Angela White and Kim Calhoun, who have worked professionally in the hair and beauty industry for over 25 years.

A Divine Opening for Allen and Shkilnyi


shley Allen and Stanislav Shkilnyi have launched Divine Artists Talent Agency (DATA), a boutique talent agency catering towards grooming and growing the best dancers, actors, and actresses. “We want our dance talent and our actors and actresses to know that they have an agent who understands what it’s like to be in the industry,” says Shkilnyi. “An agent whose owners are involved and have been part of the entertainment industry, not just a talent agent. With our relationships and connections worldwide, we want our Atlanta and worldwide talent to be seen on the top TV, film and stage performances across the world.” Shkilnyi is currently the treasurer for GPP, president of Crogan Filmworks, LLC, and runs the entertainment department at Barrow Group, LLC. Allen comes from the professional world of dance, including dancing at various stage shows in Las Vegas, on cruise ships and much more.

September / October 2017


OZCETERA Kodak Film Lab Atlanta team, clockwise from left: John Woodson, lab technician; Robert Wales, lab manager; Tony Bifano, lab technician

For the Love of Film: An Interview with Kodak’s Michael Brown By Zachary Vaudo


odak has purchased Craw ford Media Services’ Cinefilm department, incorporating the processing lab and the transfer facility into Kodak Film Lab Atlanta. Michael Brown (vice president, motion picture and entertainment group) sat down with Oz to discuss the new acquisition and Kodak’s love of film. Oz: How did Kodak come to acquire Cinefilm? Michael Brown: Cinefilm has been operating under the Crawford Media Services umbrella for the past few years. An opportunity arose at the beginning of the year when Crawford wanted to sell the lab business as well as the transfer facility. Kodak’s biggest customer in Georgia is a little show called The Walking Dead which has used 16mm color negative film for the last eight seasons. To keep that operation going, Kodak stepped in to buy the lab and transfer facility, running it similar to the New York facility. Now, our other facilities were planned in advance—New York, the U.K.—but Atlanta was a surprise. We didn’t plan it, but to keep the art form going we knew we had to step in. We recognized what’s going on in Georgia with both The Walking Dead and other productions (Hidden Figures, Gifted, etc.) that shoot on film and have gone through Crawford’s Cinefilm. Kodak Film Lab Atlanta’s first official project is I, Tonya, which started under Crawford and finished under Kodak. We’re still working with Walking Dead, there’s some shorts and school projects going through, and we’ve got a few features that I can’t reveal just yet. Oz: So you saw an opportunity and had to take it. Michael Brown: Absolutely. We see the resurgence of film in Atlanta and beyond: look at Dunkirk, where theaters had special 70mm showings. Audiences are becoming more educated about film and realizing there’s a difference. As people get HDTVs and bigger screens in their homes, theater owners have to figure


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Kodak’s transfer facility team, from the left; Steven Sovel, dailies assist; Ian Macdonald, dailies colorist technician; Jeremiah Drueke, dailies producer; DC Cardinali, senior colorist; Michael Brown, vice president, Motion Picture Entertainment Imaging Division

out how to differentiate what they offer, and the answer is showing film prints. You can’t see that in your house. Theater owners are always thinking about how to get more people in the theater: nickelodeons made it cheap, they went widescreen when televisions came out, surround sound came in, Smell-o-Vision was a thing, all different formats. Art houses are advertising the special runs of film, and movies like Dunkirk get the big theaters doing it too. Oz: Is film going beyond the special screenings nowadays? Michael Brown: It is: the music videos being shown at the MTV Awards and the Grammy Awards are getting a film resurgence as well. The percentage of films in film festivals that were shot on film is relatively small, but when you look at the awards at these festivals (Cannes, Toronto, SXSW) and the Oscars and Emmys…they’re disproportionately in favor of film-shot. When the awards come out, it’s big for film, and it’s because when you shoot film you really have to know what you’re doing. Oz: You have to keep that old conservative mindset, with the finite amount of film. Michael Brown: And you have to learn how to expose, how to use a meter—if you learn how to use a meter, you can move faster on set and you get hired more. Any time we do

a workshop, like the one we did at PC&E’s stages with the Atlanta Film Society, they fill up quick. If no one shows up, it says no one’s interested, but people buy the tickets and we have waiting lists. The people in that room want to learn the classic art form, they’re tired of digital and want to learn film, they’re students who aren’t learning film in school so they come to us. Kodak offers the classes, and they’re intensive. We shoot on film and take it to the processing center and show them the steps. We have camera rental houses and stages in Atlanta to work with, Kodak has inventory and processing here now, it’s all here in Atlanta. There’s no reason not to shoot film, because the infrastructure is here. Oz: Has the transition been smooth? Michael Brown: Completely smooth. It’s the same crew in the lab and the transfer center from when Crawford bought Cinefilm. Working with the lab people, I know how first-rate they are. They know film, they know processing, there’s never been an issue. But there was always a perception when a production came to Atlanta of “Who are you folks? You’re not L.A. or New York,” even though they did great work. With Kodak’s name on it, there’s a new perception from productions: “Oh, it’s Kodak, we know that.” It’s the same quality people that have always been there with a collective 100 years of experience, but now it’s got Kodak’s name behind it and productions will give it more of a chance. Oz: What are you hoping to build here? Michael Brown: If you look at the history of George Eastman (who started Kodak), he was all about education, and that’s our ideal: keep film going and educate the marketplace about it: for still film, motion picture, archival, all of it. It’s important to teach the trade. And down the road, we want to consolidate our two locations into a center that shows the art of filmmaking as well as offering processing and transferring.


Morin Joins WIFTA Board By Zachary Vaudo


ee Morin, principal at MORIN Entertainment Law, accepted an appointment to the Board of Directors for Women in Film & Television Atlanta (WIFTA) as programs committee chair. “It is an honor to be recognized by this distinguished organization as an industry leader in entertainment, and in particular as a womanowned business in legal services and film,” says Morin of her appointment. “I endeavor to support WIFTA with my enthusiasm, professional network, and resources to create edu-

cational opportunities in programming and a strong sense of family with my fellow board members and volunteers that I find is inherent in the Georgia creative community.” Morin star ted as a radio DJ at WRAS Atlanta (88.5FM) in 1996, moving into her legal education in 2001. MORIN Entertainment Law was launched in March 2013, with a mission to provide access to quality legal services for independent artists and small business owners.

Southeast Staging Marks 21 Years


outheast Staging Inc. celebrates its 21st year in Atlanta this year. “Southeast Staging moved to the Greater Atlanta Area in 1996,” recalls Joe Daniel, VP of marketing and technologies, “and was part of the 1996 Summer Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies. Since then we have grown and expanded to being one of the largest ‘Stage Right’ rental house distributers in the nation.”

To c e l e b r a t e , S o u t h e a s t S t a g i n g h a s l a u n c h e d i t s n e w w e b s i t e , w w w. SoutheastStage.com. “The new site is interactive and gives a high level of view of what our capabilities are and has a new and improved dedicated blog page,” says Daniel. “Our goal with this new site is to provide our visitors and potential clients with a visual of the end-product and services that we can provide.”

Southeast Staging sets up at the Falcons NFC Championship game

PLEASE TEST HERE DigitalGlue Workflow Laboratories 800 Forrest St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 404.900.6799 | digitalglue.com/test

Building Post Solutions

September / October 2017



The Sound of Success: Georgia’s New Music Incentive By Peter Stathopoulos


eorgia has a very rich music history, being the home of legendary artists such as Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers, R.E.M., the B-52s, Outkast, Ludacris and many others. Following the success of Georgia’s alt-rock/ college radio scene in the 1980s and 1990s, Atlanta became the epicenter of the hip-hop music/rap scene in the 2000s. In more recent years, however, Georgia has been losing its music industry artists, producers, managers, and other industry professionals to Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. Making this loss more poignant, the erosion of the Georgia music industry took place against the backdrop of an immense boom in Georgia’s non-music entertainment industry (i.e., film, television and digital entertainment productions). While the music industry shrunk in Georgia, direct spending in film and television production grew from $67 million in 2007 to $2.7 billion in 2017, according to Governor Nathan Deal’s announcement earlier this year. The growth of the film and television industry was in large part the result of the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of a

competitive film tax credit in 2008: the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act. To halt and reverse the losses, and in hopes of replicating the success of Georgia’s film tax credit, Georgia’s music industry has

been fighting for a music incentive for the past seven years. Led by the music industry’s political advocacy group, Georgia Music Partners, these efforts produced a surprise win during the 2017 legislative session. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the General Assembly passed the Georgia Musical Investment Act (HB 155), which creates a new tax incentive for music production in Georgia. The Georgia Musical Investment Act won over a competing piece of legislation that would have exempted music royalty payments from Georgia income tax. According to Tammy Hurt, founding president of Georgia Music Partners, “The goal of the incentive is to retain Georgia talent and create jobs which include musicians, logistics consultants, caterers, lawyers, accountants, composers, engineers, stage designers, lighting designers, managers, promoters and booking agents. This type of ecosystem can employ thousands in Georgia. Most importantly, music is a scalable sector: more content begets more jobs and revenue.”

HOW THE CREDIT WORKS The act provides for a Georgia income tax credit equal to 15 percent of a music production company’s qualified production expenditures in the state. For expenses incurred in Georgia’s least developed counties, as ranked by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (www.dca.state.ga.us/), there is an extra income tax credit of five percent, bringing the maximum possible credit up to 20 percent. To the extent credits generated exceed a production company’s Georgia income tax liability, the excess of the credits can be taken against the company’s employer withholding liability (which is a form of a cash grant to the company) or carried forward for five years. The credits are not transferable or refundable (i.e., you can’t sell them for cash or have the state issue a cash refund).

The credit applies to the following kinds of musical productions:


A touring musical or theatrical production (including touring concerts, ballet, opera, or other live variety entertainment) that originates and is developed in Georgia and has its initial public performance before a live audience in the state, or that has its U.S. debut in Georgia after preparing and rehearsing for at least seven days in the state;

recorded musical performance, including, but not limited to, the 2. Ascore and musical accompaniment of a motion picture, television or digital interactive entertainment production.

In order to claim the credit, the production company must first meet certain minimum spending thresholds in the state. For musical or theatrical productions, $500,000 during a taxable year;

1. For a recorded musical performance incorporated into a film, or digital interactive entertainment production, $250,000 2. television, during a taxable year; 3. 28

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

For any other kind of recorded musical performance, $100,000 during a taxable year.


There is a payroll cap of $500,000 for payments to any single employee or related loan out company. Qualified production expenditures include costs for recording, studio and music equipment rentals, set construction and operation, wardrobe, makeup, accessories, photography, lighting, editing, vehicle and transportation costs, food and lodging, payments to employees, talent and producers or their loan outs, insurance and bonding, and other direct costs of production in accordance with generally accepted music industry practices. The production company must apply for certification of the musical production with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (DECD). Rules for the application process and criteria for selection have not yet been issued by the DECD, though it appears the Department of Revenue (DOR) will require pre-approval to claim the credits. After expenditures are incurred in association with a certified project, the expenses must be claimed on the production company’s Georgia income tax return.

COMPARISON TO FILM TAX CREDIT Unlike the film tax credit, which has no cap, the music tax credit is capped annually, with the cap set at $5 million for 2018, $10 million for 2019, and $15 million thereafter until the credit sunsets in 2023. The credit will be awarded to production companies on a firstcome, first-served basis and no single production company may claim more than 20 percent of the annual credit allocation. Another difference alluded to earlier is that the music credit can’t be transferred or sold to a third party for cash. Accordingly, the value of the credit will be limited to the production company’s Georgia income tax or employer withholding tax liability over a six-year period. It should also be noted that the recording of musical compositions for movies, television and digital games in Georgia also qualifies for credits under the film tax credit. However, the same expenses can’t be claimed for both the film tax credit and the music tax credit. Because the music incentive is not transferrable or refundable, it remains to be seen whether the music credit will have the same kind of success as the film tax credit in attracting investment by the music industry in Georgia. The hope is that Georgia’s natural advantages in attracting the music industry (e.g., international airport, diverse and culturally rich cities, low cost of living, etc.), when combined with the new music tax incentive, will be enough to give Georgia a key advantage in attracting and retaining a thriving music industry.


Peter Stathopoulos is a partner at Bennett Thrasher LLP, one of the country’s largest full-service certified public accounting and consulting firms, and head of the firm’s Entertainment Practice.

September / October 2017




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


Filming Location Worldwide Tony Lefebvre

September / October 2017



Steps toward Immersion BY DOV JACOBSON

You feel like you’re there. That’s the power of immersion. Immersive technologies hijack your senses to persuade them that you are now within the virtual environment. When it works, you are promoted from mere observer to full inhabitant of this new world.


e visit worlds beyond our reach: remote locations, ancient times, worlds of fiction and every sort of fantasy. We visit with superpowers like X-ray vision or bullet time. We enter as lucid dreamers: thanks to immersive technology, our “willing suspension of disbelief” requires very little will power. The goal of immersion isn’t new. Renaissance painters achieved it by inventing perspective. Audiophiles pursue it by piling up speakers. Early movies, grainy, jumpy and silent, were stunningly immersive to their new audiences. People ran screaming from the theater when an oncoming locomotive was projected on the screen. Today we seek immersion in the new medium of virtual reality. In Georgia, many teams are exploring this brave new world. Some are creating entertainment; others build exhibits or online promotions. Many want to use its power for training or education or self-improvement. Some of the leading researchers in virtual reality psychotherapy have been working in Tucker, Georgia for decades. I’ve been


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

lucky enough to meet most of these explorers and collaborate with many of them. Virtual reality means different things to different people, ranging from classic stereoscopic viewers to largescale, whole-body VR systems. At each level, with hooded eyes and covered ears, immersion is deeper because more senses are engaged and the viewer becomes more of a participant; we take a giant step into immersion just by blocking out the competing signals of real reality. Each level demands more sophistication from its developers. Let’s look at twelve features that promote immersion.

STEREO VISION When each eye sees a slightly different view of the world, depth perception kicks in. This phenomenon of binocular vision has been exploited since the Victorian era. It sucked up pennies in 1900’s peepshow arcades and it will sell 3D movie tickets tonight. Headset-based virtual reality almost always exploits stereo vision…and sometimes little more.

In this 360 photograph, Dov models the Vive headset on the production stage

6. CGI

2. 360 VISION

4. 360 VIDEO

When the image contains everything that can be seen from a single point, it is called 360 (pano, photosphere, surround photo). You are the center of the scene. As in real life, you see only one sector of the scene at any time, but you can pan and tilt the view to see whatever part you like. If you’ve used Google Street View, you are familiar with 360 vision.

The 360 image can be a video. In this case, the world contains moving images and the location of the point of view (the camera location) may also be moving. Camera motion is baked into the video. While viewing, you cannot control the camera location; you control its angle and tilt. Of course, nothing’s free. This huge volume of video demands a lot of bandwidth and storage.

The virtual world becomes far more fluid when it is live, rather than pre-recorded. You view fresh computer generated imagery, rather than static photography. This is rendered in real time, as in a video game. Now (if your headset supports it) you can not only change the angle of view but also shift the location of your head to see around objects in the foreground. This effect, parallax, is a strong contributor to visual immersion. With 3D CGI, the system is driven by computation rather than on pumping pixels. You can enjoy high resolution without big data demands. 3D content also includes the hybrid technology of photogrammetry. In photogrammetry, the synthetic world is not an artist’s model, but instead the result of scanning a real scene and its contents. Photogrammetry offers a moving point of view and parallax. But because it is ultimately pixel-driven, its bandwidth savings are limited and it does not easily support high resolution close-ups.

5. 360 AUDIO


The sense of immersion is significantly enhanced by the addition of audio, particularly when the audio sources are located in space and change as the field of view rotates. Audio production is far less expensive than producing visuals, yet it can be even more compellingly immersive.

3D content means that not only can you change your point of view, but also the live computer generated world can come alive with action. 3D animation requires up-front effort but then needs little data to bring characters and objects to life in the virtual world. Animation can be simple scripted movement or complex algorithmic behavior. There are really no limits to dynamic content.

‘Crike,’ an AR program for Air Force trainees to see superimposed virtual anatomy on live patients. Model is Stephanie Chergi

3. HEADTRACKING Everybody can enjoy a 360 image. On a flat screen, you change the angle of view with mouse or fingertip. Virtual reality systems, however, introduce the new feature of head tracking. To select the angle of view, just turn to face what you want to see. This direct, natural control of the field of view enhances immersion. It is associated with headsets, but it can also be achieved with a bare cell phone. As you turn your head, you keep the cell phone screen in front of your face–offering a moving window into the virtual world.

A segment of the 360 photograph

September / October 2017


VOICES A segment of a 360 Kitchen photo, from the Kitchen Designer VR app (where players can remodel their kitchen in the virtual world!)



Transreality combines multiple experiences (real, virtual and alternate) into one complex thread.

Your virtual world might incorporate a live view of your real world. Now you are in “mixed reality.” This category includes augmented reality, where the system embeds virtual images into the world around you, either by intercepting the video feed of a camera or by reflecting into the view you see through your glasses. It also includes a type of augmented virtuality, in which bits of your real time world can be seen embedded in the computer-generated scene. In augmented reality, you control not only the angle of the camera, but also its location. A geolocated application, using GPS for example, can respond to location cues all over the world. Think Pokémon GO. Hardcore immersive overachievers are not satisfied with mixed reality. They want transreality. Mixed reality combines the “virtual” and “real” into a single experience. Transreality combines multiple experiences (real, virtual and alternate) into one complex thread.

virtual space. Different systems offer different volumes: HTC’s mass-market Vive operates at room scale; custom built systems can offer warehouse-scale play. Walking in a tightly registered virtual space makes it feel rock solid. But systems without this positioning technology often attempt virtual locomotion. You move in the virtual world, but your real body goes nowhere. The dissonance between visual cues of movement and the body’s sense of stasis frequently results in nausea.



High precision location becomes possible when GPS satellites are replaced by local landmarks, such as the tiny electronic beacons called lighthouses or base stations. Virtual reality systems with this technology allow you to walk around, stand up or crouch to see new things. This freedom of movement adds extraordinary verisimilitude to the virtual scene. Exploring on foot, rather than sitting, means you are far more present in the

Not only can you look around, but you can be an agent of change. The live computer generated world can respond to your actions. It can respond to what you are looking at. When you walk, objects can respond to your proximity. You are not just present; you are participating. As you move, you enjoy the consequences of your action. A world that responds to you offers profound immersion.

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Brush Up VR, the awardwinning fun and functional toothbrush game that teaches hygene from inside the mouth

A deeper immersion comes when you are motivated to achieve a goal in the virtual world.

11 . MANIPULATION A system that can precisely track your head, can (with more hardware) also track other things. In particular, it can track your hands. The virtual world becomes more immersive as you reach out to touch it. Handheld controllers also add haptic experience, immersing another sense in the virtual world. When you touch the world, you change the world. The virtual world can respond to your direct actions: throwing an object, wielding a weapon, or opening a door.


Claire Blare, the spokesrapper for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, who lives in a cartoon VR environment

Special for the readers of OZ in print:

It is not enough to be present. It is not enough to be a participant. A deeper immersion comes when you are motivated to achieve a goal in the virtual world. You will be fully immersed when you are in a world that presents challenges and you confront these to achieve an end. Your goal in the virtual world may be entirely fictitious and self-contained (e.g., you save the castle from attackers) or it can relate to back to challenges you face in real life. In our studio, we like to close the loop. We want players in the world of virtual reality to return with new skills and insights that improve their experience of regular reality. These skills might include hygiene, first responder skills, social skills and others. Different projects serve different purposes. The success of a new medium depends on everything from technological readiness to market conditions. It depends on creative zeal. But most of all, it depends all on its ability to meet human needs.

Try a transreality treasure hunt! It starts with a classic AR app and ends with a physical collectible in your mailbox. Load the LAYAR app on your smartphone. Point it at my picture here, to see what’s on my mind!

September / October 2017




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

HOW I GOT INTO THE BUSINESS How did you get into the business? I was contacted by The History Channel after they saw some of my videos back around 2002. For years people had been telling me that my action sequences and performance demos were beyond anything they’d seen in cinema, television, video games or stage combat routines. So, the program I pioneered and the innovative skills I acquired in historical combat methods started to get some industry notice.

What’s different or unique about what you bring?

John Clements Fight Consultant Iron Door School of Arms IronDoorStudio@comcast.net www.HistorcialFencing.com

I work from a vast untapped reservoir of authentic teachings preserved in an almost entirely unknown genre of technical fight literature. It represents literally centuries worth of spectacular action that show off how weaponry can really perform and how warriors actually moved. I’ve unequaled knowledge of this material and demonstrable expertise in it’s safe application. It’s beyond anything yet presented in popular entertainment. Instead, directors keep getting offered the same-old cliche’ fight routines repackaged and

How did you get into the business?

Mike Fortin Pilot / Aerial DP

For the past 17 years, I’ve been a professional RC helicopter pilot (that’s a real thing!), competing competitively around the country. Before the word “drones” were even in our everyday language, MTV approached my company about filming the pilot for the Wake Brothers TV series. They asked us about strapping a camera onto our fleet of RC helicopters, this was way before we had the complex aerial camera systems we have today. When the MTV team saw our footage, their jaws dropped, and the rest they say is history. Five years ago, we solidified our reputation in Los Angeles, as Hollywood’s trusted drone team. With film and TV migrating to Hollywood South, we saw a need for top notch pilots and operators that could handle the bigger productions being filmed in the city. It’s now become our mission to be the drone team Atlanta deserves.

ATL Cinedrones mike@cinedrones.com www.cinedrones.com

How did you get into the business?

Kapil Ghandi Executive Producer Full Lock Media LLC, SwayATL kapil@fulllock.com www.fulllock.com www.swayatl.com www.kapilg.com

I went to school at Georgia State University for film, but spent a good portion of my time skipping classes to PA on commercials and film my own projects. I would tour with bands and film behind the scenes videos, started taking cameras out and documenting illegal street racing in the early 2000s - I simultaneously studied under a well known food photographer who taught me camera skills and client management. I was able to edit a few feature length projects that sold to distributors, so I was a sophomore in college with a couple projects you could buy in stores nationally. I began taking more jobs in production and camera departments, and eventually started Full Lock Media. I almost failed my last semester of college because I was simultaneously producing an Indie SAG ultra low budget project, and after graduating immediately went into preproduction on another. A few years later I was asked to shoot an test sizzle video for a boutique hotel, and they loved it so much they asked me to produce a series of videos for them. It spiraled from there, and through word of mouth I became one of the go to producers for, among other things, hospitality content creation.

What’s the best advice you can offer to young people in your profession? Grind, all day. Stay off your cell phone on set, be attentive, offer your help, be friendly and keep a smile on your face.

regurgitated with new effects or new stunts. But, directors can’t ask for something else is they don’t know an alternative exists. Any fight scene is an illusion. It’s pretend. In essence, everyone is faking it and yet, none of them have a clue what the “it” is that they are faking. After all, you can’t fake it if you haven’t reconstructed and mastered it in the first place. Well, Iron Door School of Arms is that “it”. We have the real “it”. All I do is study and train in “it.” That’s what makes what I have so distinct.

What makes your job cool or fun for you? I operate a one-of-a-kind facility an hour West of Atlanta that is unique to North America. It’s the only dedicated fight school focusing exclusively on training in historical European martial arts, specifically authentic Medieval and Renaissance self-defense disciplines. Our specialty is swordsmanship and consultation services. Iron Door also has a program that offers an alternative to standard fight certification courses for actors. The philosophy I follow for this is to train performers to “act like you’re fighting, not fight like you’re acting.” The difference shows.

What’s the best advice you can offer to young people in your profession? Practice! I am 100% self taught. Before getting into entertainment, I knew everything there is to know about remote operated helicopters. But the difference between a GoPro, RED Helium, and Arri Mini Alexa? Not a clue. I remember staying up till 3 a.m. on the Arri and RED website, learning how to distinguish between the cameras. During each job we were hired for, I went the extra mile to spend time with the DPs on set...understanding their camera preferences, why they decided to frame a shot this way, and understanding the “signature look” they brought to the project. It truly was a masters class in filmmaking! This gave me the creative tools to understand how to better tell the story from the air. I’m proud to say, all of our pilots aren’t just flying from point A to B. We all work hand-in-hand with the DP and director, giving them creative input. We are true cinematographers and have been lucky enough to be recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers and IATSE union.

And pay attention: no matter how good at your job you get, there is always someone you can learn from.

If you had to do all over again, what would you change? I may have considered joining the union early, but the biggest thing would’ve been to invest money during periods of growth in different necessities to help my business grow. Also, reminding myself during the grind that this is fun, and to get out there and enjoy the parts of the business that make us love it so much.

Do you have a word or quote or mantra you live by? “Difficult times often bring out the best in people.” -Bernie Sanders.

If you weren’t doing this, what would be your dream job? Working with a non-profit trying to improve the lives of everyone, reminding myself that we are all of one energy.

What makes your job cool or fun for you? Getting to make a living telling stories. Getting to see growth in my employees, artists and creatives around me, and the city of Atlanta. Being trusted by strangers to capture the visuals in my head.

September / October 2017



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


ow does one truly “sell” a film to an audience? There are many ways that film industry professionals can create compelling and dynamic works that tell a story, one of the most fundamental being the use of props. Short for “theatrical property,” props have been used in film, television, and theatrical productions for hundreds of years. The term first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1841. During the Renaissance, many theatrical troupes would pool resources and travel together, putting on performances in a variety of locations. Back then, many of the actors would provide their own outfits and costuming, but items such as stage weapons and furniture would belong to the troupe as a whole, hence the term “property.” As a general rule, props are items that are used by actors in a production to set the scene and further the action. Additionally, some props go on to become motifs and carry special significance for the overall storyline, like the ring in the Lord of the Rings series. A prop can be something as innocuous as a cup of coffee, as temporary as breakaway glass, or as crucial as a “hero” prop: something that’s central to the story and specifically used by the main characters. Sometimes these hero props might include functional, moving parts or incorporate technology such as LCD screens. While watching any performance, you can learn a lot about the characters and plot from examining the props.

Perhaps they are intended to blend into the background, or maybe they convey important messages about the characters you watch. For instance, a devout religious person with sacrilegious imagery hanging on the walls of their bedroom could imply a lesser known or seldom seen side to that character. So where do these props all come from? In many cases, it’s unrealistic to expect each production to go out and buy every item that’s needed for a film or show at cost, especially given that one crew might work on vastly different types of productions within a short amount of time. That’s where prop houses come in, offering a vast array of items available for rent. Some shops specialize while others try to offer a little bit of everything. According to research by the Motion Picture Association of America, Georgia is quickly becoming one of the nation’s largest film and television production hubs. Statistics tell us that in 2016, the industry generated $1.7 billion in wages for over 25,000 people in the state. With an ever-increasing litany of productions coming out of the state, it comes as no surprise that prop houses are in high demand. After all, nearly every show, play, or movie needs props, and they have to stay somewhere when they are not on set. For this feature, Oz spoke with eight of Atlanta’s top prop houses about what it’s like to work in the industry and provide the items that help directors, writers, and actors tell their stories.

September / October 2017


Bright and Tidy and On Display “This is a changing world every day,” explained Claire Foley, the general manager of the Atlanta branch of Bridge Furniture & Props. Indeed, the very spaces in which Foley walks every day are always changing. Their bright and tidy warehouse is located off of Interstate 75 in the Underwood Hills area, divided into sections by large shelves, packed with neatly organized items of virtually every sort. In the open floor spaces in between, carefully crafted room scenes appear ready for a production as is. Strategically placed measuring tapes can be found from aisle to aisle for the convenience of shoppers. As prop masters rent out and reserve different items from the warehouse, Foley and her team must then come behind them to neaten and tidy the remaining items, resulting in continuously evolving miniature sets. “It’s fun,” Foley said. “It’s hard work and it’s really busy.” Founded in 2006 by Matt Hennessy in Brooklyn, New York, Bridge Props has seen continuous success in the industry. The company has since expanded to three locations: New York City, Los Angeles, and most recently, Atlanta. Foley has a diverse background, with a degree in psychology from UGA and a career that includes stints in sales, retail, restaurant management, and even working on a cruise ship. It was thanks to an old co-worker who was hired to fill a senior role at the New York branch of Bridge Props that Foley was recommended for the role at their new Atlanta location. Her knowledge of managing people and caring for clients in retail and the service industry allow her to make and maintain a strong network of professionals in the area. Though she admits that sometimes she is teased by her co-workers for her Southern accent, it is precisely her genuine nature and Southern hospitality that makes her such a perfect person for the job of general manager. As for the vibe at Bridge? Foley describes it as being professional while still keeping things real. “I’m proud of that,” she said. The prop house has

Claire Foley

contributed to productions such as MacGyver, Ozark, Star, The Walking Dead, Sully, Baywatch, and Dynasty, just to name a few. They have also stocked commercials for brands like Gold Bond, Georgia Lottery, Georgia Power, Dannon Yogurt, and have even provided props for rap music videos. Since accepting the job two years ago, Foley has seen an increase in business not just for her shop, but in the productions that are taking place in Georgia. “It’s very word of mouth here,” she explained. “There is so much growth and there are so many new people coming to town, so I hope they get to know us.” Fortunately for Foley, the local scene is a friendly one. “Everybody tries to help everybody out,” she said. From the outset, Hennessy’s goal has been to provide a selection of higher end items. He had been working at another prop house when he realized his dream was to start a company of his own, and thus formed Bridge. Though the three branches of Bridge carry distinctly different items, which is due to the types of productions that take place in each city, there are some overarching themes that remain constant between the locations. For example, Hennessy is an animal lover, so he included a clause in his contracts for employees that encourages them to bring their pets to work. He even built a cat hotel for strays in the New York office, and he runs an informal fostering program out of the prop house. Despite operating with a robust history of work and the proven success that Bridge has found, Foley thinks there’s still more to learn. “Not just Atlanta, Georgia is learning,” she said.


Wall art selection

Inside the Bridge showroom


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The cast of Archangel from the Winter's End Chronicles

Medieval is the theme in the Museum Replicas showroom

David Di Pietro

Local Inventory Strikes True “I could not be happier to be in the Atlanta area at this exciting time,” said Dave Di Pietro, director of new products at Museum Replicas. In the prop business, it’s important to not only be accessible, but also to carry items that the customers want to rent. Having local inventory is key. “They can stop in and shop for things that they would normally have to ship in from Hollywood or other areas throughout the United States.” Originally from the Philadelphia region, Di Pietro has found a happy home in Atlanta. “The amount of friendly, professional people we have here is quite staggering!” A filmmaker in his own right, he has worked in Super 8, 35mm, and 35mm film. Di Pietro expresses a distinct love for model building, though he fears that this role may be “a disappearing art with the current digital age.” Beyond working in his preferred roles of distressing costumes and aging props, Di Pietro also writes and directs an action-packed steampunk web series called Archangel from the Winter's End Chronicles. Knowing what it’s like to be behind the camera gives him an added appreciation for the work he does supplying props at Museum Replicas. When television shows The Originals and Sleepy Hollow rented almost their entire set, Di Pietro felt a sincere appreciation for what he does. “That made me feel great, that two network TV shows found my creations exciting enough to feature them as a key set on their shows!” Museum Replica’s selection features swords, daggers, helmets, suits of armor, costumes, and home accents, specifically within the realm of Greek, Roman, Viking, Medieval, Renaissance, and steampunk styles. The company, established in 1983 under the parent company Atlanta Cutlery, has provided sets, prop replicas, and costumes for films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Gladiator,


One of Alpha Props' medical settings

Robert Vanasco

Inside Alpha Props

Braveheart, and The Lord of the Rings. “The most important aspect for believability in film today is the ability to make that world look ‘real,’” Di Pietro said. “I still see so many historical films, especially low budget, that look like clothing just came out of the package and props that look newly store-bought. Today's movie-goers can spot this type of inconsistency.” He cites seeing the original Star Wars: A New Hope released in 1977 as being a major turning point in his own appreciation for props and staging. “It opened my imagination like no other film prior. It showed us a sci-fi world that was ‘lived in,’ which is now the norm for the industry.”

Welcome to the Lab While all the details may not be immediately apparent, sets and props of all kinds play a crucial role in the interpretation of film and television shows. According to Robert Vanasco, the branch manager and head of sales at Alpha Props Atlanta, considering your setting is important beyond defining the atmosphere for the audience, “because it is necessary for the acting talent to believe in not only 'who' they are pretending to be, but also 'where' they are pretending to be,” he said. Alpha Props also has three locations: LA, New York, and Atlanta. Their specialty is medical and laboratory items, and they have been in business since 1992. The Atlanta branch opened in 2014, occupying a nondescript building in East Point. The shelves are stocked to the brim with everything you could need to dress an entire hospital set. From biomedical machines to desks, computers, hospital beds, and lab equipment like beakers and centrifuges, Alpha Props stocks it all. For Vanasco, running the shop is a natural fit. Some of his favorite films include the remake of Total Recall, the first two Alien movies, and the Matrix films. His penchant for sci-fi lends itself quite easily to the work at Alpha Props, and his experience growing up included working at Alpha during his winter and summer breaks as a teenager. He was

September / October 2017


first hired in 2000, and helped open the Atlanta branch by traveling between locations until 2015 when he moved here to run the shop full time. “I love it here!” Vanasco said when asked about the transition. “I grew up riding the waves of SoCal, so I never expected to move here, but I am glad I did. Atlanta is a beautiful city . . .and sorry to say, much cleaner and prettier than Los Angeles in my opinion.” For transplants like Vanasco, there’s much to enjoy about not only working in Georgia, but also living here as a resident. “There is such a great mix of things to do.”

Turning the Page Not only are there things to do, there is demand for a variety of industries. “The entertainment industry is one of the reasons independent bookstores like ours are still alive and thriving,” explained Jan Bolgla who owns Atlanta Vintage Books alongside husband Bob Roarty. “Georgia tax credits have made a huge difference in our bottom line. Without book rentals and purchases to supplement our regular business, it would be much harder to keep our doors open.” Atlanta Vintage Books has been part of the local community for 29 years, and Bolgla and Roarty purchased it in 2007. Prior to owning the store, they both had been working in other industries for many years. Bolgla had been a self-employed graphic designer for 20 years, and Roarty had managed production and estimations at printing companies of various sizes for more than 30 years. The two were ready for a change, and when Bolgla saw that Atlanta Vintage Books was for sale, they thought to themselves, “why not?” The two had always loved books and feared that passing this opportunity up might leave them with regrets, so they bought the business two months later and haven’t looked back since. “It's always exciting to see a movie or TV show and spot our books,” said Bolgla. “We've been in everything from MacGyver and Marvel movies to biopics on Henrietta Lacks and the Unabomber. One of our favorite experiences is when someone

calls ahead and asks us to pull books to fit a specific scene, like a 1930s schoolhouse, or the office of 1960s NASA scientists.” Among Vintage Books’ proudest moments is when they were asked to fill the personal library of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the 2014 film, Selma. Despite the small size, the types and specifics of books on a shelf or desk in a production can make a huge impact in the overall work. “Not unlike a great descriptive passage in a William Faulkner book, the right props can transport us into the story,” Bolgla continued. “On the other hand, the wrong props can distract as much as a poorly written book!” Atlanta Vintage Books stocks a wide variety of rare, vintage, and outof-print books with subject specialties in art, architecture, photography, history, military history, Southern history, collectibles, cookbooks, aviation, nautical, railroad, radical literature, religion, metaphysics, the classics, and children’s literature. In fact, their children’s book collection is one of the largest selections of rare and out-of-print books in the Southeast. All told, the 29-year-old business stocks more than 70,000 books in their 5,000-square foot library.

Silent Details that Illuminate the World Considering not only which items one wants to use as props, but also how used or new they ought to be, and whether or not they fit with the popular view of a character or storyline is crucial for filmmakers. “With set design, you are creating a world: a space in which the characters navigate through, guided by their intents or motivations,” explained Eric Bomba-Ire, co-owner of ATLiER Props & Design. “That world is sometimes indicative of who the characters are, sometimes what they are striving for or up against. That world can be complementary or disruptive to the characters, so furniture and props for me are the silent details that illuminate that world.”

Jan Bolgla & Bob Roarty

Easton Press Books

Statues on display

Eric Bomba-Ire & Phoebe Brown

Portraits for set design


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ATLiER Inventory

Studio Service Group

“Good design should complement the way you want to tell your story,” added co-owner Phoebe Brown. “Your average room, even a really beautiful room, needs to be tweaked to look good on camera. Messy rooms need more mess. Clean rooms need something interesting so they don't look sterile.” So how does one make a scene look authentic? The answer is often frustratingly simple: it needs to look used or functional. Knowing how to make something look legitimate requires an understanding of human behavior. “Even just your average bulletin board, when done in a lazy way, can be distracting,” continued Brown. “I've spent so many hours crafting good looking bulletin boards, that's one of my weird little peeves when I watch anything. I'll call out a bad background bulletin board.” Brown and Bomba-Ire opened ATLiER just one year ago, and have had a banner first year in business. The warehouse, located just off of Fulton Industrial Boulevard, is packed wall to wall with items. In the front of the space sit a few curated small rooms. There’s a room full of African artifacts, a library complete with giant decorative animal heads protruding from the floor, and a room full of religious items and taxidermy animals. Locally made artwork decorates the hallway that leads to the warehouse space where the shelves are cluttered with items that cover a vast majority of genres and ages. You can find everything from vintage TVs and telephones to tables, desks, and lamps. Prior to running the shop, they both had extensive experience in the theatre and filmmaking aspects of the industry. Having grown up in Ghana by way of the Ivory Coast, Bomba-Ire has lived through a lot of political conflicts. His path eventually led him to the United States where he has pursued his love for film and turned it into a sustainable business.

Heavily involved in the indie film scene of the late 90s and early 2000s, BombaIre has a wealth of experience behind the camera that lends itself to a greater understanding of the importance of props. “As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything else I had ever wanted to do but set decoration and props somewhere down the road,” he said. Brown, on the other hand, has lived in Atlanta since 1997. Prior to that she lived in New York City, D.C., and New Orleans, originally hailing from Cape Cod. As a self-described “theater geek,” she had grown up loving film. Her design icons include Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers, and she has been working in props since 2002. The two met by chance when participating in a film festival, a fortuitous meeting to be sure. “I was the production designer for Eric's 48 Hour Film Project in 2003. Who knew that almost 15 years later we'd open a prop shop!” said Brown.

Strive To Be The Best The path to opening and running a prop house is not often linear. Such is the case for Studio Service Group, a company initially opened by president Mark Hurt in 1982 to make and sell props to museums, amusement parks, and film productions. Seeing the potential for expansion, in 2013 they began renting out their products to film and television production companies. Keenly aware of the burgeoning film industry in Atlanta, Hurt was able to acquire the Warner Brothers Property Department and expand services in manufacturing. “We now offer property rental, prop and special effects fabrication services, as well as production and storage space rental,” explained Hurt.

September / October 2017


Hurt grew up in Stone Mountain and worked in his father’s business building museum exhibits. “Animatronics and robotics have always been my favored focus, leading to my educational background in electro-mechanical engineering,” Hurt continued. “The fabrication arm of the business, Constructioneer, utilizes a vast array of computer controlled machinery and processes.” Studio Service Group is located on Old Dixie Highway and occupies a sprawling warehouse. The large space carries many staples of traditional prop houses, but they set themselves apart in their comprehensive fabrication capacity. They offer services such as waterjet cutting, 3D routing, plasma cutting, laser cutting, wide format printing and cutting, and molding and casting. Hurt maintains that “filmmakers want to tell a believable story; the illusion of reality begins with the perfect visual setting.” “Atlanta, my home for over 50 years, is a wonderful city with incredible potential. The film and television industries have recognized the opportunities available here, and are quickly growing with the support of the community,” explained Hurt. Despite the many upsides to working in the ‘Hollywood of the South,’ he admits that we have some catching up to do. “Hollywood has been making movies for over 100 years. The bar has been set high, and production companies coming to Atlanta have certain expectations.” His advice to those looking to break into the industry? “If you’re going to be in the business, strive to be the best.”

Time Is Always of the Essence Working in props, whether on set or in a prop house, is not without its challenges. In today’s society, there is a culture of I-want-it-now mentality, a la Veruca Salt. There’s little room for error, time is always of the essence, and word of mouth is everything in this city. William “Billy” Biggar, the owner and operator at Biggar Antiques, knows this to be true from experience. “All of them


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are exciting,” explained Biggar about the thrill of working with productions. “They are like hurricanes; they all have their own personality.” Biggar was born into this business, which was initially run by his parents in Buffalo, New York. They have been operating in the area since the 70s, and recently moved from their location of 47 years to a full prop warehouse. While the company began with antiques, specializing in the commercial side of the business, restaurant, and décor, they eventually got into film and provided set pieces for some of Georgia’s earlier classic films, such as Driving Miss Daisy, Heat of the Night, and Fried Green Tomatoes. It’s a family business, and Biggar has an innate knowledge of period pieces, which is incredibly helpful for prop masters and other industry professionals. He knows that you have to pay attention to all of the details on a set, “from large pieces right down to period thermostats and electric covers.” As a longtime resident of Georgia, Biggar is excited to see the increase in productions that are coming out of the state. “To see the steady growth and transition into the number one area for movies being filmed has been great,” explained Biggar. “I enjoy seeing the younger locals that are here and how they have grown and are now making some of the most major productions being filmed today.”

Studio Service inventory

In the Studio Service Workshop


Carnival Props

A wall of prop knives, cleavers, and other blades

Carnival Props

Rich “RJ” Rappaport

RJR Props Inventory

A Diverse Catalog of Abilities Beyond fulfilling and exceeding the expectations of their clients, those who run prop houses must also maintain their props, oversee the business and financial sides of their companies, replenish their stock, and maintain accurate inventories of their items. Having a diverse catalog of abilities helps immensely in running a well rounded prop business. Rich “RJ” Rappaport is uniquely suited for the job. He has a technical background, and has extensive experience and schooling in electronics of all sorts: computers, avionic design for the military, engineering, and medicine. Prior to landing in the film industry, Rappaport ran an industrial computer design company for many years. He is able to understand, fix, and operate virtually any electronic he comes across. It was due to Rappaport’s love for electronics and capacity as an engineer that he found his way into the film industry. About ten years ago, he received a phone call from Bob Shelley of Bob Shelley's Special Effects studio in Fayetteville. He was in search of a specialized electronic item, something called an ‘annunciator panel,’ and asked if Rappaport had one. When he replied

that he did, in fact, have the roughly $30,000 piece of equipment, Shelley was incredulous. By then rewiring the panel so that the lights would work, Rappaport was able to provide a crucial piece of equipment for a shoot the very next morning. It was his first time working with film, and the friendship he developed with Shelley has helped him expand his business into the film industry. Today, RJR Props houses more than 30,000 items, with an emphasis on military and functional electronics. Their selection also ranges from fake money all the way up to an actual portion of an airplane and the cockpit of a fighter jet for use in film productions. “An audience wants to see captivating realistic rooms, sets, computer rooms, electronics, and working props,” explained Rappaport. He believes that props and furniture are the meat and potatoes of the film industry. Originally hailing from Connecticut and New York, Rappaport cites his love for Blade Runner with Harrison Ford as being a turning point in his appreciation for props in film. “The script was written with incredible insight; the future had gritty realism and detail down to the tiniest minutia; the props were beyond exceptional; the sets were pure realism,” he remembers. “For me, it was exhilarating. I was hooked.” The work is at once demanding and gratifying. Seeing a set in a film or on TV that you helped to create is a unique experience, and many of these industry professionals live for that thrill. While the hours may be long and the productions may seem few and far between at times, props are a key part of the film community. “It is cyclical,” explained Rappaport. “It’s up, and it's down, depending on the cycles of the industry.” For those who are driven and talented it can be the most fulfilling job of your life. As with all things, success in props takes hard work and dedication. So, next time you’re watching your favorite show or movie, take a moment to observe the props within the frame. Ask yourself what they tell you about the action and those acting in it. Consider the wear on furniture, and what behavior that suggests on the part of the character. Once you start looking, you’ll realize there’s so much more to props than you noticed before. September / October 2017



ollywood of the South” is a term used for all of metro Atlanta these days, but one Georgia city has the phrase trademarked: Covington began using the nickname decades ago and made it official in 2011. Recently, the city has also been “Mystic Falls, Virginia,” New Orleans, the Smoky Mountains and Selma, Alabama, to name a few of the real and fictional places it’s doubled as on screen. But going forward, Covington and the rest of Newton County deserve to be recognized by name for what they are in and of themselves: a favored region for location filming with plans to grow even further as a major center of production.


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THE PAST Covington has a long and rich film history, going back to the Oscarnominated 1955 biographical drama A Man Called Peter, and through its hosting of TV series such as The Dukes of Hazzard and In the Heat of the Night in the ‘80s and ‘90s. “I can vividly remember In the Heat of the Night filming around town,” says Robert Faulkner, who grew up in Covington and now works as both a location coordinator and assistant location manager. “Everyone would get excited when Carol O'Connor would come around. There's always been that film presence, but nothing like it is now.” That past experience has helped the city’s continued interest in the industry, and vice versa. The people of Covington are accustomed to hosting Hollywood, and Hollywood is familiar with the area’s reputation for being so film friendly. “It’s easy to film here, and people don't think twice about it because we've been doing it for so long,” affirms Jenny McDonald, the director of tourism for Newton County

and the official liaison for production in the area. “Covington was one of the first Camera Ready Communities,” she reminds, referencing Georgia’s program that assists filmmakers and productions through a streamlined process. Ask anyone in the area, and they’ll vouch for McDonald’s expertise with the area and the film industry, recognizing that she’s one of the best things to happen to Newton County as a production destination. And she’s passionate about that rich film history, so much that she recently started a pop up exhibition called the Hollywood of the South Film and Television Museum, which showcases props and set pieces from movies and TV shows that were shot in the area. “It's nice to see that the community has come up a lot more to encourage film,” says Steven Spelman, a props assistant whose credits include Marvel superhero blockbusters and the Hunger Games movies. “The area is very friendly to the arts.” Spelman was so taken with the area that he and his wife recently moved to Covington and set up their own multimedia art studio, Wildwood,

in their barn. He says that even while there’s always a fair amount of production in town, it’s never been overwhelming from a residents’ point of view. “It's never slowed us down or gotten in our way,” he claims, “versus when I lived in Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta, where every time you turn down two different streets there's a lot of stuff going on.” And that’s with Covington having been the home base for The Vampire Diaries from 2009 until this past spring. The series was a huge hit, putting the area back on the industry map in a big way. “TV shows entrench themselves in the community, which is awesome,” McDonald says, while acknowledging its impact. “They spend dollars here, use local resources. Vampire Diaries became part of our community. It became second nature to us.” Despite such a popular series being headquartered in Covington, Spelman sees his new home as “still a sleepy little community. It hasn't gotten to that pretentious stage where everyone's bought up the property and everything's jacked up price-wise.” September / October 2017


On set - Coat of Many Colors

They don't use traditional street lights anymore. And filmmakers love it."

THE PRESENT Little has changed about the character of Covington from the past to the present, which keeps the city unique and attractive to productions. “We've maintained the integrity of our downtown,” McDonald says. “It actually looks like a backlot, which is a huge draw for the film industry because they don't have to do much.” In addition to the old-fashioned look of downtown Covington, McDonald also points to the surrounding area’s diverse appeal to productions. “We've got five cities within Newton County, and each city is small but has its own personality,” she says. “You go ten minutes from downtown and you're in Porterdale and you have what I call the river district and the old cotton mills. Then you go ten minutes east and you have farm land, you've got horse farms, you've got dairy farms. You've got beautiful country homes within Newborn and Mansfield. Then you go to the other side and you've got Oxford College. You have all these different

personalities to choose from. It just makes it easy to pick a lot of locations.” Such variety isn’t just great for bringing different kinds of shows and movies to the area. It’s also convenient for projects like the new Amazon show Lore, which Faulkner worked on this year. “Lore is not a typical TV series,” he explains of the anthology program based on the popular podcast of the same name. “It had to take place in different time periods and different countries, like Germany in the 1500s, Maine in the 1800s. Covington was able to do that.” “Company moves cost a fortune,” points out local sound mixer Aaron “Cujo” Cooley. “Productions want to avoid moving as much as they can. Covington and Newton County are nice to shoot in, because you can get so many different looks in so many close places; you don't have to move on.” More and more productions are discovering the advantages of filming in Covington as others discover and have good experiences here. “I've worked with a lot of people who've been surprised at

Aaron Cooley on Black Mountain

how much Covington has to offer,” Cooley shares, confessing that he was also once unaware. “I never really thought about it until I actually got in the business and saw it from the inside and became fully aware of it.” He points out that improvements are constantly being made that help to lure new productions, too. “Covington has redone all the lighting in the square to make it film friendly. They don't use traditional street lights anymore. And filmmakers love it,” he says. “Even Porterdale, which has revived the downtown, has had pretty good growth over the last 10-15 years. Bringing productions to the town helps exposure.” Faulkner adds that the local governments themselves are incredibly easy to deal with. He recently worked in Covington, Porterdale and Oxford and found each one very accommodating while still keeping the interests of their citizens in mind. “They didn't just say yes to everything,” he acknowledges, noting that instead of flat out rejections, the officials always offered alternatives. “They just do it right and efficiently, Robert Faulkner working

They just do it right and efficiently, which is refreshing..." Robert Faulkner


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Nicole Kanoy with shoulder friend

which is refreshing. So much more streamlined. Good communication. That's one of the biggest positives, especially for the locations department.” It’s not surprising that many people who work in the industry are making the Covington area their home, whether they’re returning or relocating. “There's a good crew base here, a lot of people that live in Newton and commute every day to Atlanta or the studios when there’s no shooting in Covington,” Cooley recognizes, adding that obviously they all prefer when there is something shooting nearby. “Any time you can work close to home is a good thing.” Spelman agrees: “I always try to work locally. I've been down the road from Sleepy Hollow, and it helps that I can just show up and talk to the prop master or meet with the art director. When you source everything locally, you don't have any shipping time. The turnarounds tend to be faster. I can go work in my shop, get it done, then deliver it, and if there are any issues they can be dealt with immediately. A lot of the people I've been dealing with seem to appreciate that.” Another local film professional who appreciates so much production in the area is Nicole Kanoy, an animal wrangler and snake safety expert whose claim to fame should be that she kept Ian Somerhalder and the rest of the Vampire Diaries cast from being bitten on a daily basis. For her, though, it’s about being able

to balance her profession with her home life, which involves three kids and 80 rescue animals. “It allows me to be a bit of a better mom with my schedule,” she says of the close gigs, which has also included work on TV shows The Originals and Sleepy Hollow. “I love it, too, because I can drive by and say, 'This is what we did there,’ and my kids are like, 'Oh, that's so neat!' My work is cool and they're proud of me. They can relate to what I do because they can see it.” About the current state of the industry in town, she adds, “There's just so much work, so many jobs. A lot of people that I knew out here in high school never went to college and were very limited in their future. They're now specialized and working. It's provided so many jobs. And the town looks great. And everybody here has heard of it now. It helps the people who are willing to work hard make a living.” And the non-industry locals benefit, too. “I have friends in all kinds of businesses in town. Any time a production moves in, they tend to benefit,” Cooley says. “All the restaurants On set - Tyler Perry's A Family That Preys

get extra business, the retail stores get extra business, and local law enforcement ends up with extra overtime.” (Editor’s Note: people working on Georgia productions are solid citizens. Law enforcement works overtime providing security on sets and locations . . . not making arrests! GP).” Spelman, who also mentions having friends from high school who now work in or alongside the film industry, also commends the locals for not being jaded by all the productions. “They know what's going on,” he says of the people of Newton County. “Nothing freaks them out. They still get excited about it. It’s this sweet spot where they're still excited about it but they're not really intimidated by it.” With Lore, he says he really made an effort to utilize local businesses wherever possible, too. “Restroom vendors, equipment rental vendors,” he specifies. “Covington is coming along in terms of vendors that cater to the film industry.” Some companies, such as Burgess Amusements and Special Events, have even started catering to the industry directly. “As the film industry has grown over the past seven years, so has a need for our services,” says Burgess president Ron Dudik, Jr., who tells of the pleasure of working with The Vampire Diaries and providing items for Fourth of July celebration scenes shot in downtown Covington. Dudik recognizes that businesses like his benefit especially from positive buzz within the community. “Through word of mouth and the reputation of providing quality equipment and services, Burgess has become involved in many more productions.” When Nicole Greer bought the historic Twelve Oaks plantation in 2011, she only intended to turn the house into a bed and breakfast and event space. But even before she closed on the property, Billy Bob Thornton was knocking on her door hoping to use the location for his movie, Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Unfortunately the timing wasn’t right for that, but Twelve Oaks quickly became a hotspot for film shoots (including Vacation and the upcoming Life of the

September / October 2017


Burgess Amusements on set of The Vampire Diaries

Jenny McDonald

The Future Party). “I didn't anticipate it,” Greer admits. “It happened organically. Then people talk about you.” Of course, the B&B also serves the industry’s need for high-end lodging for above the line cast and crew who require “more privacy, more discretion.” Greer has had experience with accommodating A-list talents who refuse to stay at the local chain hotels, for instance, but need to stay close to the filming location, not in Atlanta. “That’s an hour commute, and traffic is severe,” Greer points out. “It makes more sense to put them here.” Twelve Oaks also hosts a lot of guests who want to stay in the plantation house that inspired the look of one of the homes in Gone With the Wind. “They copied a lot for the set,” Greer states, also acknowledging the property was used in other older movies before her time as owner, including 1977’s False Face (aka Scalpel). Others look to the B&B as an option while in Covington visiting Vampire Diaries locations and general film tourism interests. Regarding Vampire Diaries tourism in the area, McDonald confesses, “It's huge,” and she attributes this offshoot of the film production impact to helping to bring Covington’s downtown back to life. “We get people from all over the world coming here. It's amazing. It will blow your mind. In 2015, for the tourism industry in Newton County alone it was $125.6 million in direct tourist spending. That was an increase of $5.4 million from 2014. $3.7 million was generated in local 50

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tax revenues, and in state tax revenues it created $5.14 million. Another number that's impressive is the payroll in the tourism industry: in 2015, $23.35 million for 1,140 jobs for Newton County.” “When you drive in, you're in ‘Mystic Falls,’" McDonald adds, recognizing why Vampire Diaries fans are so attracted to the show’s filming locations. She also thinks the local businesses just “get it,” given how many restaurants and bars and ice cream parlors have created special menu items inspired by the show. McDonald recognizes that Covington still looks like the setting of In the Heat of the Night, as well. “We still have fans come back 21 years later to see ‘Sparta, Mississippi.’”

Nicole Greer with Cindy Crawford

Despite The Vampire Diaries concluding this past season, nobody seems too worried about the loss of the show for the film or tourism industries in Covington. “There is concern any time a show ends,” McDonald confesses. “There was the same concern with In the Heat of the Night. It's like lightning in a bottle. We've been very, very fortunate to have two very, very popular TV series. But what we're trying to do right now is target the international market, because they're about two or three seasons behind. Then we're expanding into Porterdale, because the spin-off show, The Originals, is on the air for another year. We've still got a while.”

Rahim Charania

Georgia isn't going to slow down anytime soon...” McDonald is also positive that Covington will continue to be attractive to Hollywood. “Covington treasures its downtown and look and will make sure it keeps that quaint small town feel. That won't change.” Meanwhile, she’s personally looking to appeal to more tourists with her museum. “If it’s popular, we’ll find a permanent space for it,” she says. “And it will become another attraction.” Then there’s the opening of Three Ring Studios, which promises a bright future for the city, as well. Rahim Charania, head of the enterprising new “Google-esque” campus for production, believes it is the next step in the evolution of movie studios. “The way movies are being made today is very different than how they were made even a decade ago,” he acknowledges. That’s why he’s made

sure Three Ring will be “tailor-made for the future of content development.” “It seems like for that studio, they're planning way ahead to have an influx of traffic and extra power and sewage,” Spelman says of his positive outlook on the infrastructure in place for Three Ring. “It seems they're doing their due diligence of planning ahead, instead of building a studio then trying to retrofit the area around it.” Charania admits that a lot of the groundwork was Covington’s own doing, and that’s why he ultimately decided on the location, affirming that the city and county were head and shoulders above the competition: “We were very much excited about the level of capability the city of Covington brought to the table with regards to the TV and film industry. We wanted to invest in a city that

The Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast On set - Vacation

On set - Dukes of Hazzard

On set - Vampire Diaries

those on the West Coast and actively engaged in this business already had familiarity with. There's also a sense of life and community in Covington and an understanding of the industry and an eagerness to service it.” Encouraging for the studio is the county’s invested interest in its success, with McDonald working with Charania on making Covington’s relationship with Three Ring the most synergistic enterprise possible. “We're going to work hand in hand and have local resources available to productions that land at the studio,” she vows. With history and infrastructure in a place like Covington and an innovative new studio like Three Ring now established, it’s easy to trust in Atlanta’s role in the industry as strong and long lasting. “Georgia isn't going to slow down anytime soon,” Charania believes. “We've got a couple years or even a decade before that changes. We want to create an atmosphere where a group of actors, directors and crew can see Covington as their home. We want to bring longer term productions to Georgia.” It’s no wonder that he sees the city as having more potential than a comparative nickname implies. “Covington is not "Hollywood of the South." Covington is Covington,” Charania professes. “In its own way, it's a unique area that is ideal for so many things involved in content development throughout not just Georgia, but the nation as a whole.”

September / October 2017


OZ SCENE Southern Exchange at 200 Peachtree

July 20

GPP Summer Industry Party

O DJ Jeff Myers

ver 500 industry professionals turned out for Georgia Production Partnership’s SIP–Summer Industry Party. Hosted by Southern Exchange at 200 Peachtree, the event was both an industry-wide mixer as well as a fundraiser for GPP. Co-Presidents Clark Cofer and Trish Taylor took the opportunity

to welcome everyone to the second annual event and underscored that proceeds from the evening go toward supporting GPP’s mission to protect the production tax incentive and sustain our industry. Sponsors, attendees, volunteers and GPP board members all agree the evening was a fun success!

Forrest Tuff & Bob Hoffman

Bernard Ansa, Kat Hawkins & Seth Synstelien

Brad Sanders; Tamra Silvestre & Anita Woodfork

Monique Andress, Zeus Luby, Zada Luby & Sir Robert

Daryl Dillard, Austin Tally, Naza Usher & Denise 52

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Daniel Stine, Waren Brace & Michelle Rubinstein

Mignon Baker & Scott Wardell

Son Ah Yun & Jennifer Long

OZ SCENE Adell Drahos, Alina Lia & Brian Childers

Katrena Holmes, Christopher Drummond, Jena Drummond, Andrew "Dre" Dennis, and (Center) Redge Green

Desiree Taylor, Kela Lott, Betsy Powell & Randy Hawkins

Cedric Jackson, Melissa Goodman, Jim Damis & Ric Reitz

Board Members Lisa Ferrell & Brennen Dicker Leigh Higginbotham, Ginger Sinton, Rebecca Shrager, Samantha Worthen & Jaye Pniewski

Mandy Fason, Yelena Hertzberg & Kelly Nettles

Briana Franklin & Aba Arthur Daniel Stine, Waren Brace & Michelle Rubinstein

Back Row (L-R): Doreen Pettit, Brittany Wilkins; Front Row (L-R):Â Dorothy Mcconnell, Lori Beck, Tiffany Duncan

Mason Thurman, Melodi Erdogan, Kelly Nehmen, Cara Reid, & Jason Lockhart September / October 2017


OZ SCENE Terrell Whitley, Deidre Mc Donald, Nefertite Nguvu, Neema Barnette, Crystal Fox, Qeeen Latifah & Kathleen Bertrand

August 20-27

BronzeLens Film Festival


ver the course of eight days, film lovers, actors, and filmmakers gathered to share a creative platform of education, entertainment, empowerment related to film, television, and the production of both at the 8th Annual BronzeLens Film Festival. 68 films were screened to over 6000 attendees at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Auditorium. Additionally, the festival featured master classes, brunch

discussions, a filmmaker’s lounge, panels, and more. Winners include The Suit (Best in Festival and Best International Short), Little Music Manchild (Best Documentary), Ashley Ashley (Best Documentary Short), The Homecoming (Best Student Film), Created Equal (Best Feature), Journey of a Soca King (Best International Documentary), Burning Angel Dust (Best Short), Broken Pieces (Best Music Video), and Brooklyn.

Blue.Sky (Best Webisode). Elle Jae Stewart was awarded Best Actress for her role in Junior and Kendre Berry received Best Actor for Trouble Man. The 2017 Audience Award went to Spilled Milk, Brenda Mills received the Founder’s Award, Heritage Cadillac received the Heritage Award, and Crystal Emery received the Spirit Award.

Kathleen Bertrand & Black Women in Medicine director Crystal R. Emery

Brenda Mills, Florida State University Festivals Coordinator and Industry Liaison

Crystal Fox & T.C. Carson

Kathleen Bertrand with Avery O. Williams & Sharon Tomlinson

Timon Kyle Durett Will Packer


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Filmmaker Jackie J. Stone (director of Burning Angel Dust) & an associate

OZ SCENE Clifton Powell, Khalil Kain, Lea Monet, Kathleen Bertrand, Elijah Johnson, & Rushion Mc Donald

Actor Yohance Myles

Deidre Mcdonald & Theo Tyson

Tiphanie Watson, special Project Manager the Mayor's Office of Film and Entertainment

Ambaasador Andrew & Carolyn Young Kristen & Terrell Whitley Queen Latifah

Regina Bell Yvette Thomas Henry

Karyn Greer & Janine sherman Barrios, show runner for Claws September / October 2017


OZ SCENE Filmmakers and gamers party after the TERMINUS Awards show

June 22-25

TERMINUS Conference & Festival

T Host Flula Borg

ERMINUS Conference & Festival welcomed the next generation in film, interactive and gaming at the W Atlanta Midtown, SCADshow, and The Loft at Centerstage. TERMINUS featured over 350 short films screened, 60+ hours of educational panels and workshops, a massive gaming expo and several special events including,

parties, awards shows, and a Mario Kart inspired Field Day. Special guest presenters included Robert De Niro, Naomi Harris (Moonlight), Flula Borg (Pitch Perfect), Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) and several industry pros from Marvel, Ubisoft, Eidos Montreal, Adobe, Panasonic, No Film School and more.

The PlayStation Emerging Filmmakers Program announcement

Creators of “Voiceball” test out their game Mario Kart Team posing with their custom Mario Kart at the TERMINUS Field Day Event

Gamer experiences PlayStation virtual reality

Erica Penk demonstrates Unreal Engine during “(Un)Realistic Expectations: Pushing Unreal 4 Beyond Gaming” workshop 56

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Moonlight actress Naomi Harris poses with Campus MovieFest Best Picture winner King Yaw Soon

OZ SCENE Local Atlanta band The Hearsay perform at the GTA Party

Host Judah Friedlander opens up the 2017 TERMINUS Awards show

Robert De Niro poses with David Roemer & Kate Atwood

CMF filmmaker Aakash Bakshi accepting the CMF Lifetime Achievement Award for participating all 4 years of his college career

Filmmaker Maxim Jago shares directing experience in “What It Is To Be Human – A Storyteller’s Perspective”

Robert Anstett & Mike Mooney discuss the role of Makerspaces have in supporting creators, innovation and professional development

Campus MovieFest filmmakers answer questions from the audience after a film screening

September / October 2017


OZ SCENE Caroline Rault (Rosco)

August 25

James Taylorson

Barbizon Lighting Company’s Summer Grilling Series

B Jenn Christensen (ETC) talks with Collin Gibson

arbizon Lighting Company kicked off its inaugural Summer Grilling Series, a monthly event featuring good food and information/demonstrations from companies in the business. The debut event featured representatives from ETC, Rosco, and Ardd+Winter, demonstrating new products for attendees.

Ben Tilley & Jenn Christesen (ETC) with guests

Nathan Mitchell & Jenn Christesen (ETC)

Caroline Rault (Rosco) speaks to Daniel Terry & other guests 58

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

OZ SCENE Matthew Maloney, Justice Obiaya, Marisa "Ginger" Tontaveetong, Jenna Zona, Jeff MacDonald, Claire Almon

August 9-10

SCAD AnimationFest

S Max Almy & Andrea Miloro

Brantly Watts, Jeremy Seymour, Ashley Kohler, Neal Holman, Doug Grimmett, Nigel Rowe

Matthew Maloney, Justice Obiaya, Marisa "Ginger" Tontaveetong, Jenna Zona, Jeff MacDonald, Claire Almon

CADFilm launched the inaugural SCAD AnimationFest at SCADShow in August, featuring special screenings and panel discussions such as “Exciting Careers in Animation,” “Producing Duck Duck Goose,” “Animation: The New Model,” “Writing for Animation: Creating Worlds,” and “Y’allywood Animation.” “A quarter century ago animation was synonymous with children’s movies and Saturday morning cartoons. Today, animation finds its way into every frame of our lives, from interactive advertisements to AR video games to Academy Award-winning films,” said SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace.

Leap! animation director Theodore Ty

Tina O’Hailey & Theodore Ty

Special Screening

September / October 2017


OZ SCENE Jeremy Cournyea & Azariah Oldacre demonstrate for attendees

Axel Arzola & guest

July 28

Axel Arzola & guest

Fujinon Lunch & Learn Lens


ujifilm/FUJINON and Innocinema hosted an informal optics discussion over a casual lunch with representatives. Guests shared input and insight on which lenses Fujinon should be building for the future: Spherical or Anamorphic, Primes or Zooms, Character or Clean, focal lengths, T Stops and more. Attendees also got a look at the FUJINON lenses, such as the Premier 18-85 T2.0, Cabrio 25-300 & 20-120 T3.5 and the new MK50-135 T2.9.

Jeremy Cournyea and Azariah Oldacre mingle with the crowd

Justin Goff demonstrating the technology

Attendees - Photo by Kelly Truitt

Mark Wilson taking a selfie with character impersonators from Atlanta Movie Tours - Photo by Jen Spiegel

Will Stewart and Justin Goff speak to guests, with background cameo by Ben Rowland

Photo by Dessay Lohrey

August 25

Behind the Scenes Inaugural Gala


Good Foods Kitchen prepared a delicious buffet - Photo by Dessay Lohrey


tlanta nonprofit re:imagine/ATL held its inaugural gala at Third Rail Studios Sound Stage 1, with executives and decision makers from the entertainment and media industries pledging their support in stewarding the next generation of storytellers. In addition to raising over $40,000 for the cause, most of the 250 attendees, including representatives from Turner and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, made a commitment to mentor, host job shadows or internships, or speak at schools across Atlanta to expose high school students to careers in the film and media industry. Dan Rosenfelt and Scott Mobley from Third Rail Studios proudly hosted the event; TLC

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Rents generously provided chairs, tables, linens, glow bars and crystal centerpieces; Cinema Greens covered the set with incredible greenery; Picasso Brothers Printing ensured beautifully printed programs; Grey Goose Vodka, Rodney Strong Wines, and Samuel Adams Brewery provided specially created cocktails, wine and beer for the evening; Chef Jennifer Robbins of Good Foods Kitchen prepared a delicious buffet; and Bottle Rocket ATL kicked the evening off right with passed hors d’oeuvres. Funds raised from the evening will be put towards re:imagine/ATL’s programs implemented around the Atlanta metro area this fall.

Photo by Dessay Lohrey

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September / October 2017



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

December 12th

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Heather Leech Heather Leech is a freelance illustrator who graduated with honors from Savannah College of Art and Design, where she studied Illustration. She has designed licensed products for Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Marvel. Most recently, her work has been noticed by the PR team of Entertainer, David Burd, Hallmark, and Archant: an international media group who publishes Harley-Davidson’s HOG magazine. Outside of the studio, Heather enjoys all things outdoors. You can find her in Atlanta on her motorcycle, skiing lake Allatoona, or traveling across the country to motorcycle rallies or cosplay conventions. www.heatherleech.com

Chris Reel Chris Reel, born in the year of The Rabbit and based in Atlanta and NYC, is a visual artist working in the mediums of photography and film. He enjoys creating pieces that combine both the “why” conceptually – and the “how” physically. Being formally educated in the fine art of photography with a BFA in Studio Photography from Georgia State University and a MFA in Photography and Film from Parsons The New School for Design; he feels that knowing the history of photography and other various artistic mediums, is essential to his creative process. He enjoys creating work that celebrates realism while drawing the viewer into the possibility of a satirical perspective and currently works in the film industry. www.chrisreel.com 66

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