Oz Magazine January / February 2021

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OZ NAMING COMPETITION Georgia’s entertainment industry has become a true force in the world. As of now, we don’t have a moniker that currently reflects that. We need to define our state with a current descriptive name to cover Georgia’s film, television, music, virtual reality, and gaming industry. Using the name “Hollywood South” or “Y’allywood” for our whole state has been a huge conversation amongst the people and companies that work here. It is fine to name your company whatever you want; however, Oz Publishing, Inc. is asking those who think they have the branding chops to come up with a moniker that represents all our hardworking entertainment talent in Georgia.

Hollywood is a legacy. Why are we riding on their coattails by using the name “Hollywood” to represent us? We are so different from Hollywood. Oz Publishing’s naming competition is open today and free to enter. The prize is $1000. Terms and conditions can be found on www.ozmagazine.com. You must be a Georgia resident to apply and 21 years or older. The submitted monikers will be reviewed and judged by a panel of industry professionals including Brennen Dicker, Robyn Watson, Tammy Hurt, Kathleen Bertrand, Patty Knap Tucker, Tom Luse, and Asante Bradford,

MEET THE JUDGES Asante Bradford Asante Bradford is Project Manager for Digital Entertainment and Emerging Media for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the sales and marketing arm for the State of Georgia. Bradford helps promote the growth of the digital media industry as well as identify initiatives that will help grow businesses for the state of Georgia in interactive entertainment and Esports. He also helps educate potential prospects and provide clients with information about the Georgia Entertainment Industry Incentives Act.

Brennen Dicker Brennen Dicker is a film and television professional with 25 years of experience, and is Executive Director of the Creative Media Industries Institute at Georgia State University. Before joining Georgia State, Brennen was the General Manager for SIM International (Post) Atlanta. SIM provides production and post-production services for many episodic television series and feature film productions, including; “Stranger Things”, Watchmen, “The Gifted”, “Dynasty”, “Good Girls”, “True Detective” S3, as well as the blockbuster, Get Out. Brennen is a current member of Georgia Chamber of Commerce Screen Coalition Committee, and is on the board for the Atlanta Esports Association (AEA). He chairs the CMII Working Group which is comprised of leaders in film, television, gaming and music for the state of Georgia. He also serves on Board of Directors for The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

LaRonda Sutton LaRonda Sutton is the Owner/Principal of Entertainment.gov, a consulting firm dedicated to advising policymakers on the long-term economic development benefits of film and entertainment. Sutton is the founding Director of the Mayor's Office of Film & Entertainment for the City of Atlanta, which launched in July 2013. In addition, she lends her time and talents to many community organizations and currently Board Vice President of Women In Film & Television US.


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Kathleen Bertrand Kathleen Bertrand is the Founder and Executive Producer of the BronzeLense Film Festival. Amongst her many accolades, Bertrand has been named one of “Atlanta’s Top Hospitality Industry Leaders” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and in 2018 her alma mater, Spelman College, selected her as the recipient of its Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary degree. In 2019, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms presented Bertrand with the City of Atlanta’s highest honor, The Phoenix Award. Most recently, Kathleen received the highest honor of Atlanta’s hospitality community when she was inducted into the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau Hospitality Hall of Fame.

Patty Knap Tucker Patty Knap Tucker is a seasoned communications executive who counsels senior leaders on leveraging communications and reputation to gain business value. Her 30 years of agency experience includes 14 years with Edelman and dozens of clients across the marketing, film and creative sphere. She has built and led a $7 million practice, shepherded global best practices across the Americas, and helped help hone the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which continues to fuel her work in corporate purpose, social responsibility, and reputation.

Robyn Watson Robyn Watson is a Communications Director for WarnerMedia Distribution, based in Atlanta. Watson is active in mentoring and leadership in the industry. She co-chairs the Strategic Marketing & Communications Committee for the Black Professionals at WarnerMedia, where she is responsible for creating the strategy and communications for leveraging and building the talents of Blackprofessionals. Robyn has been involved in the Women In Film organization for over 10 years having served on the board of directors for New York Women In Film & Television (NYWIFT) and Women In Film and Television Atlanta (WIFTA). She is also on the board of Women In Film & Television International (WIFTI) where she serves on the Knowledge, Advocacy and Activism Committee. Robyn graduated from Emory University and holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Benedictine University.

Tammy Hurt Drummer, Tammy Hurt is the managing partner at Placement Music, a boutique entertainment firm specializing in custom music, scoring and post-audio for all forms of media. She is a co-founder of Georgia Music Partners (GMP), the non-profit behind the passage of the Georgia Music Investment Act (tax incentive) and serves as Vice Chair of the National Board Trustees of the Recording Academy.

Tom Luse Tom Luse is currently an artist in residence at Georgia State’s Creative Media Industries Institute in Atlanta. He served as producer and executive producer for the first nine seasons of "The Walking and Dead". Among his many awards and nominations, Luse received an Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Made for Television Movie for What the Deaf Man Heard; was honored with the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials for "Paris Trout"; and was awarded AFI's TV Program of the Year for "The Walking Dead". He is currently working as a consulting producer for "Chapelwaite", a series based on the Stephen King story. Jerusalem’s Lot, starring Adrien Brody and Bridge and Tunnel, a TV series set in NYC, developed by Ed Burns.

January / February 2021




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


With new Georgia-lensed projects underway during the pandemic, Oz Magazine is curious about how production departments are expanding and in which ways storytelling has transformed, adapted and been released. It seems a bit torturous to subject the magazine to a New Year’s resolution after finally making it to the finish line of 2020. Instead, I’d like to just uphold a word in 2021, specifically for this publication. CURIOUS. The January/February 2021 issue of Oz contains a bricolage of features and industry news that reflect curiosity. One feature captures the step-bystep process to becoming a COVID Compliance Officer (CCO), a fairly new, yet essential, position on set during the pandemic. For this issue’s cover story, Oz sits down with “Lovecraft Country’s” On-Set Decorator, Marissa Korchak, and Set Dec. Coordinator, Emilee Cox, who were both kind enough to discuss their professions, collaboration on the series, their favorite places to film in Atlanta, and more. Oz’s intention is to grow even more curious about, well, everything: how the Georgia’ film, TV, and new media industries are pressing on, the technological advancements and innovations this year may hold, and most importantly, how we can continue to be your go-to resource in terms of industry news and entertainment. As we move through the year, Oz will be covering new facets of Georgia’s industries, specifically in the May/June issue, which will explore the burgeoning gaming and streaming industries. In order to respect all aspects of the entertainment industry here in Georgia, we have a naming competition. Oz Publishing, Inc. is now asking Georgia residents submit a name that encapsulates the entirety of Georgia’s film, TV, music, gaming, and virtual reality industries. Like many hard working Georgians, we believe that we’re more than just “Hollywood of the South” and should therefore be branded as such. The winning moniker will encapsulate all of Georgia’s entertainment industries. The winner will be rewarded with $1,000 and credited in Oz Magazine for their contribution. Curious on how to enter and who will be judging? Keep reading this issue to find out!

B. Sonenreich, Editor-In-Chief

January / February 2021





STAFF Editor-in-Chief B. Sonenreich


Tia Powell (Group Publisher)


Kris Thimmesch

Creative Director Michael R. Eilers

Cover story: Decorating Dreamscapes and Narrating Nightmares HBO's "Lovecraft Country", p.24 Kayla Grant graduated with her bachelor's degree in Mass Media Arts and a concentration in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University. She is a cross-topic journalist with a passion for entertainment news who is currently working for Emmy award-winning journalist Jacque Reid. During her undergraduate experience, she actively worked on the student newspaper, as the Editor-inChief, affording her the opportunity to interview extraordinary individuals, such as Spike Lee, Aisha “Pinky” Cole, Dorothy Butler Gilliam and Cyntoia BrownLong. She holds two certifications: Poynter Institute's Newsroom Readiness Certification and the Hootsuite Platform Certification. In addition to being featured in Oz Magazine, Grant’s words are published in Poynter Institute's HBCU Voter Guide, Rolling Out and The Atlanta Business Journal.

Production and Design Christopher Winley Michael R. Eilers


Morgan Williams


Image Courtesy of HBO

Keller Berry Feature Story: A Guide to Becoming A COVID Compliance Officer, p.30 Keller Berry is a bi-coastal filmmaker from Atlanta, Georgia stationed (trapped) in Los Angeles, California during the pandemic. He began work in the COVID-compliance field with a PPE supply company in Los Angeles, advising COVID-safe practices on film sets. Now, he continues to practice safe sets as a CCO and Health & Safety Manager on the ground, working directly with film productions in these uncertain times.

John McCurry Feature Story: Interning In The Industry, p.34

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John McCurry is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years of experience as an editor and writer for leading B2B publications. He has a BA in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. A dedicated cinephile, he enjoys movie marathons and once saw six movies in one day at three Atlanta-area theaters.

ozmagazine.com /ozmagazine /ozpublishing /ozmagazine Oz Magazine is published bi-monthly by Oz Publishing, Inc. 2566 Shallowford Road Suite 104, #302 Atlanta, GA 30345 Copyright © 2021 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.


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Starr Ferguson Feature Story: Filmmakers on the Rise, p.40 Starr Ferguson is an Atlanta-based creative from Huntsville, Alabama and a graduate from Alabama State University. She is an actor, writer, and costume designer. Starr has also styled various short films, music videos, commercials and is currently writing her own web series. Her writing can been seen in Oz and TUC Magazine.







A compilation of recent news and hot projects from and about the Georgia entertainment industry

Interning In The Industry





COVER STORY Decorating Dreamscapes and Narrating Nightmares


An interview with the On-set Decorator and the Set Dec. Coordinator of HBO's "Lovecraft Country"


FEATURE STORY A Guide To Becoming A COVID Compliance Officer

Oz takes a look into Georgia-based internships that lead to careers within the industry: Crazy Legs Productions, Third Rail Studios, and Creative Sound Concepts.

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Jono Mitchell & Madison Hatfield broke into the Atlanta indie film industry; here's how they did it.


Let Me Give You My Card

Oz explores how someone becomes a Covid Compliance Officer

January / February 2021





n December, veteran film producer, writer and location manager, Alicia “A.O.” Godmasch, launched her first novel, Retrograde: The Darkness. In the spirit of page-turning pieces like The Hunger Games and World War Z, Retrograde is the first of a duology series with young adult readers and sci-fi fans of all ages in mind. Retrograde tells the gripping tale of a far-off planet, Damara, on the brink of destruction from the mighty Retrograde. “After a fascinating Mercury in retrograde phenomena chat with a friend on set, the story of Retrograde: The Darkness came to me in a series of dreams that I immediately wrote down every morning,” Godmasch said. “Really, I crafted this star-spun adventure to bring in people of all ages, backgrounds, and colors, which reflects the diversity in my own life. As readers dive in, they will find a diverse range of heroes to cheer for and relationships to follow.” Godmasch moved to Atlanta seven years ago and dove straight into the entertainment industry. Her first break was as First AD, and later, Production Manager on Amazon Prime’s pilot “SYN.” She has been affiliated with Swirl Films as one of their location managers for previous projects airing on BET, Lifetime Network, WE, BOUNCE, TVONE, and many more. Additionally, Godmasch has worked with Crazy Legs Productions as their Location Scout for projects airing on Investigation Discovery.



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Uppercut's second office in Atlanta's upper West Side



h e N e w Yo r k- b a s e d i n n ov a t i ve post-production studio, Uppercut, has established its second office in Atlanta’s Upper West Side. This 10,000 square foot, state of the art facility provides a unique mix of creative office spaces with retail, dining, and entertainment. The facility also offers customizable rental spaces for both shor t and long-term productions. The studio’s facility houses a diverse post-production team specializing in

offline editing, VFX and finishing for short-form, commercials, music videos, and branded content. “We’re thrilled to see our team of world class artists take on the projects this vibrant market has to offer,” Uppercut’s Managing Director, Lisa Houck, said. “We are equally motivated to connect with and cultivate homegrown Atlanta talent to be part of our team.” “The tremendous rise in Georgia’s television and film production industries and the high-level creative work coming

out of local adver tising agencies is extremely exciting,” Uppercut’s Founder and Editor, Micah Scarpelli, said. The studio’s reputation of producing culturedefining stories that blur the lines between advertising and entertainment makes Uppercut a perfect fit for Atlanta’s diverse entertainment industry.

January / February 2021




IFH Founder, Alex Ferrari

The Fulton Count y Ar t s and Culture Commission’s Virtual Arts Initiative for Creative Entrepreneurs awarded a viral arts initiative grant for T. Lang’s latest ex p e r i m e n t a l w o r k , “ O u t F r o m t h e Deep: A Meditation for Them Turners.” The immersive dance work sits at the intersec tion of dance on f ilm, vir tual reality, movements as meditation and performance art installation. This experimental work emerges from Lang’s exploration of the 1918 lynching of Mary Turner, inspired by Lang's visit to the Legacy Museum in Mongomery, Alabama. The work is a collaboration of Lang as Creative Director and Choreographer, Michelle Hite as Dramaturg, Kris Pilcher as Systems Imagineer, Torey Best and Jonathen Eldrige as Sound Composers, Morgan Amairah Burns and Xavier Lewis as Movement Artists, ET Productions as digital production, Olamma Oparah as Film Director, and Ayana Dubose as Creative Research Intern. Lang’s work honors Mar y Turner’s memor y and comp el s au diences to encounter truths that can grapple with and overcome trauma, while drawing upon the imagery of hidden tenderness and strength.



tlanta Film Chat, the weekly podcast highlighting filmmakers from all over Georgia, has moved to the Indie Film Hustle network. “I started Atlanta Film Chat along with co-creator Molly Coffee in 2014 to help get the word out to the world about how amazing the Georgia film scene is,” Atlanta Film Chat co-creator, Chuck Thomas, said. “I’m grateful for everyone at Indie Film Hustle for recognizing the hard work everyone at the podcast has done over the years, and I hope this leads to more eyeballs on everything we’re doing here.”

The Indie Film Hustle network also includes “Shoot From the Hear t,” a podcast with award-winning screenwriter Diane Bell, “Filmmaking Conversations” with Damien Swaby, hosted by the london-based filmmaker Swaby, and the original “Indie Film Hustle Show,” hosted by creator Alex Ferrari. “We are honored to welcome the Atlanta Film Chat Podcast to The IFH Podcast Network,” Ferrari said. “This show has been a staple in the indie film community in the Southeast and we hope to expose this great show to a new and larger audience.”

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tlanta-based Picture Per fect Production and Editorial has been able to push through critical times and keep the cameras rolling through the pandemic. The team had the opportunity to showcase Atlanta's very own, Mayor Keisha Lance Bot toms, in G lamour Magazine’s issue for 2020’s Women of the Year. Condé Nast and LA-based agency, London Alley, desired an Atlanta-based

On set with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

production company that they could trust to do it all for the Glamour feature. “[Picture Perfect is] absolutely one of the most talented and professional teams I have had the pleasure to work with,” Press Secretary for the Office of Mayor Bottoms, Michael Smith, stated. Picture Perfect’s Executive Producer and DP, Willie Giles, has decades of experience in the media industry and the company is uniquely equipped for today’s

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filming challenges, capturing incredible stories while utilizing an efficient COVID compliance crew. Additionally, unique vir tual s treaming and multi - camera equipment prov ided t he abilit y for Glamour, Condé Nast, London Alley and other clients to view and engage all on-set action, from the safety of their own home.

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t’s with heav y hearts that Oz Magazine announces the passing of Terry Kay, the publication’s first Editor. Kay died on December 12, 2020 at the age of 82 due to cancer. He was born in Hart County, Georgia as the eleventh of twelve siblings. In 1959, he married his childhood sweetheart, Tommie Duncan. He graduated from LaGrange College that same year with a degree in Social Sciences and extensive studies in theatre arts. Kay went on to pursue a career in journalism and began working as a sportswriter and film and theatre critic for the Atlanta Journal. In 1976, he entered into a new world of writing when his first novel, The Year the Lights Came On, was published. The book functioned as a launchpad for his legacy in fiction writing. However, it was his fourth novel, To Dance With White Dogs, that transformed him from a noteworthy author into a literary legend. The book won him the Outstanding Author of the Year award from the Southeastern Library Association. In 1993, the novel was adapted for TV as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS. The movie brought in 33 million viewers, and Hume Cronyn won the 1993 Emmy for Best Actor for his role as Sam Peek, a character based on Kay’s own father. In 2006, Kay was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, and, in 2011, he received the Georgia Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Our team continues to mourn his death and wishes the best for his family and loved ones.

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his fall, the Georgia Film Academy (GFA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) are rolling out a professional Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital MEdia program for Georgia filmmakers and content creators, a collaboration with film industry center, Trilith. “This is an unprecedented advancement in laying the foundation to create writing and content creation jobs in Georgia,” Executive Director of the GFA, Jeffrey Stepakoff, said. “For the past five years, we have been actively training a robust workforce of Georgias in below-the-line fields, and this program will create opportunities for storytellers, who would otherwise have to leave the state for jobs in New York and Los Angeles.” “Our goal is to provide students with a world-class education and that includes having contacts with some of the most accomplished television and film professionals in the business,” the program’s Director, Dr. Jeff Springston, said. “Our faculty have invited their extensive network of Hollywood talent to the program through our distinguished industry mentors and writersin-residence initiatives.” After spending the first year studying at UGA’s campus in Athens, students spend the second year taking residence with GFA at Trilith, the 935-acre master development for the creative industries in South Metro Atlanta that is home to Trilith Studios, the second largest purpose-built studio in North America, where blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame were produced. Students will gain real world experience in advanced writing, production, advanced directing, computer animation and thesis films, and will graduate with a Master’s degree from UGA.

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January / February 2021


OzCetera Natasha Bobbit



or over 30 years, Barrow Group, LLC has been in the business of insurance brokering, offering comprehensive, tailored insurance solutions to the film and television, temporary staffing and PEO industries. Now, they are introducing their new Account Executive of film, TV and entertainment insurance, Natasha Bobbit. B o b b i t b r in g s 17 yea r s wo r t h of insurance experience to the company as well as her love and knowledge of the entertainment industry. Her passion for the industry spans back to her childhood. Her grandfather, Charles Bobbit, was a music producer who worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including Michael Jackson and James Brown. As Account Executive of film, TV, and entertainment insurance, Bobbit focuses on consulting with clients to provide them with the best methods for protecting their production investments. She looks forward to working closely with her clients and being part of their creative projects.



ast year, KMBO, LLC purchased the assets of Atlanta-based Proteus On-Demand Facilities and launched FLEXTC, a company providing temporary structures and facility solutions. From tents, temporary structures, extendedterm facilities, and more, the company’s inventor y can meet just about any demand. FLEXTC has recently expanded into servicing the Georgia film and TV industry. “As Proteus, we were known globally for servicing major events from trade shows and sporting events to emergency management basecamps and disaster response operations. As we watch the growth of the Georgia film industry, we realize how we can be of value. Tents,

canopies and other temporary structures can enhance traditional options used for hair, makeup, and wardrobe … And given the need for greater space to accommodate social distancing concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, tents and structures become a much more applicable resource than standard trailers or containers,” FLEXTC’s owner, John Keller, stated. The company operates out of a 15.43 acre campus based in Austell, Georgia and can be utilized to assist as an operational marshaling yard during film production as well as a possible location destination for establishing a temporary sound stage.



razy Legs Productions continued to expand production and development across all areas, including scripted, unscripted, and film, at the end of last year. The company recently welcomed fourtime Emmy Award nominated Producer, Jodi Tovay. Tovay comes to Crazy Legs with a background that includes development and production roles at Public Broadcasting Atlanta, where she produced an Emmy-nominated film about rapper T.I. and Discovery Communications, where she was responsible for more than 200 hours of original series and films.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Tovay will be working across all development as Director of Development. She will be primarily responsible for shepherding projects to pitch to networks and streaming platforms. “Jodi is a seasoned development executive with experiences in a variet y of genres, great t as te, and valuable relationships in the creative community,” Crazy Legs’ Vice President of Development, Alana Goldstein, said. “My goal is to have diverse voices in our development team and we’re excited to have Jodi join our team and bring her unique point of view.”

January / February 2021




Marlo Tiede

Stilwell has added two new members to their distinguished team, Marlo Tiede and Brandon Sauvé. Before joining Stilwell, Marlo Tiede spent over a decade working as an independent Casting Direc tor for television networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, USA, and The CW. Her name can be seen in the credits of feature films including The Prestige, Black Christmas, and The Astronaut Farmer. Tiede most recently worked for Walt Disney Television at Freeform Studio and Net work as Manager of Casting and Talent. Now, she has officially settled her roots in Atlanta as Stillwell’s Head of Casting for film and TV. Brandon Sauvé, works as the agency’s Head of Commercial Casting. Sauvé’s relationship with Stilwell began long before he was hired, when he received his first acting audition and booking through the agency ten years ago. From there, Sauvé went on to book roles in over 250 commercials for clients such as Cartoon Network, The NFL, Cox Media, and many more. His background also includes acting in films and television shows such as “Stranger Things,” “Black Lightning,” “Ozark,” and Footloose (2011). Now, this Georgia native is excited to provide fellow local actors with the same opportunities he has been afforded.

Brandon Suave


Robert “Bob” Lucas


he Georgia film industry and motion pic ture industr y at large lost an important member and contributor in 2020. Robert “Bob” Lucas worked in the film and TV industry for over 30 years beginning his career in music television in the early eighties. He started working on low-budget feature films as a Prop Master and Set Decorator in the eighties as well. In 1989, he joined the I.A.T.S.E. local 44 union and began working on large budget feature films as a Set Decoration Leadman. Bob began working in the Georgia film industry in 2009 when jobs in California became harder to find. Bob worked on in Georgia-lensed features like Halloween II, Killers, Wanderlust, and Dumb and Dumber To. Bob permanently relocated to Georgia with his family in 2014 after the opportunity to purchase a developing prop house in Atlanta came his way the year before. Within a few years, Bob had 20

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

built what is now known as Central Atlanta Props and Sets into one of the largest props and set dressing rental facilities in the country at approximately 200,000 square feet. “One of the set s Bob was mos t proud of was a recreation of the Kennedy Oval Office for the film Thirteen Days,” said Emma Lucas, daughter of Lucas, when asked some of Lucas’ proudest contributions. “Bob’s proudest contribution to the industry was being able to help the set dec crews in Georgia achieve their cinematic goals. As a prop house owner, this was what Bob aimed to do for each and every customer, no matter the project, the budget, or how wild the set vision was. Having been both the vendor and the client, Bob knew what it was like to be in their shoes and he always passed on his industry insights to those who were new to the industry.”

January / February 2021


OzCetera Still from Coming 2 America

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mazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to the Georgialensed movie, Coming 2 America, from Paramount pictures. The long-awaited sequel to the iconic comedy Coming to America will be released internationally on Prime Video on March 5th, 2021. Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on a hilarious, new journey that has them traversong the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York, where it all began. The starstudded ensemble includes James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos, Louie Anderson, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracey Morgan, and more. “Coming to America was a cultural phenomenon that is one of the most loved and celebrated comedies of all time,” Head of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Sale, said. “Thanks to Eddie Murphy’s comedic genius along with the brilliant filmmakers, writers and fabulous cast, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this new adventure.”


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The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns for a hybrid event across 12 days from February 17-28. In response to the ongoing pandemic, AJFF has reimagined the festival experience to combine at-home virtual screenings with select drive-in movies, expanded conversation with filmmakers and special guests, as well as other unique components that prioritize the safety, comfort and convenience of audiences. The festival will be primarily powered by CineSend, the festival’s Virtual Cinema. This virtual platform will allow audiences to access international titles from a smart TV, home theatre, computer, tablet or other mobile device. Additionally, the festival has partnered with Mercedes-Benz Stadium to offer a limited number of drive-in screenings in the 11-acre Home Depot Backyard greenspace. “Cinematic stories feed the soul at a time when we need the help of film artists to make sense of our worlds, to be inspired, and to reignite our shared sense of humanity. Our festival staff and volunteers have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the core tenets of the festival ― community, representation, storytelling and experience ― are preserved in our 2021 hybrid edition,” AJFF Executive Director, Kenny Blank, said. “It’s gratifying to see that, despite the pandemic, the pipeline of new films on Jewish themes is as strong as ever.” Always core to the festival’s mission of fostering dialogue, AJFF will continue its commitment to community conversation with enhanced guest programming, including speaker introductions and extensive Q&A panels that further explore the themes and topics presented on screen.

January / February 2021





Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


tticus Freeman (played by Jonathan Majors), a young Black US soldier, returns home to Chicago in the 1950s Jim Crow era. Upon his arrival, one of the first places he stops into is a quaint mechanic shop. The store’s window is big with perfect lettering arched over the top near the frame, inviting light into the crowded store. There are cars being fixed, customers being served, and a big rickety bookshelf that Atticus immediately walks over to. He pulls out the book, The Outsider And Others by H.P. Lovecraft, bound with a black and white cover decorated with a naked woman and bright stars of different shapes and sizes. The HBO series, “Lovecraft Country,” follows Atticus to his hometown to figure out the mystery behind the disappearance of his estranged father, Montrose Freeman

(Michael Kenneth Williams). Once the young soldier returns to his Uncle George’s (Courtney B. Vance) apartment and runs into his old friend, Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett), he is equipped with a team to accompany him on a road trip of a lifetime, with the goal of finding Montrose. Along this journey, the three stumble upon mansions and monsters. All the while, the audience is pulled into the story with its extremely detailed sets that are worth marveling at for far longer than what a ten-episode season allows for. “Lovecraft Country” combines the genres of science fiction, historical drama, psychological thriller and horror into one show, creating an incredibly addicting series that left audience members on the edge of their seats in 2020. Becoming the most nominated television show at the inaugural Critics Choice Super Awards,

“Lovecraft Country” provided its viewers an exciting escape from reality. It is also currently the most viewed show on HBO’s streaming platform, HBO Max. With Underground’s Misha Green as the writer and Get Out’s Jordan Peele and “Lost’s” JJ Abrams as its Executive Producers, the genre-defying show reached an estimated 1.5 million viewers for the finale and 10 million viewers throughout the first season on all of HBO’s platforms. While the majority of filming for “Lovecraft Country” took place in Georgia, the pilot was originally shot in Chicago. Once production was moved to Georgia, the crew had the exciting challenge of not only recreating Chicago’s landscape, but also making it fit within the ‘50s time frame.

January / February 2021



Marissa Korchak When creating a hit television show, like “Lovecraft Country,” there is a lot of work that goes into a mise-enscene (what’s in front of the camera and inside its recorded frame) that brilliantly encapsulates moments in history. The crew members on the set of shows work tirelessly during filming to curate the final project that fans enjoy on their streaming devices and TV screens. Oz Magazine interviewed two essential crew members, Set Decoration Coordinator, Emilee Cox, and On Set Dresser, Marissa Korchak, to showcase the work that goes into creating the background images that viewers see on “Lovecraft Country.” Redressing some of the streets and recreating specific locations required a lot of hard work, but the versatility that Georgia’s landscape offered assisted the crew members tremendously. “All of that is actually facades and you can walk into some of those places, but a lot of them are just flats standing in the middle of the parking lot,” Cox told Oz. As Set Dec. Coordinator, Cox assists in putting objects in the background that would have meaning to the script. “We try to provide subtle impressions in the background as a team and are there to enhance the story or reflect on the mood of the scene as best we can,” Cox said. Head creatives do the research on their ideas for the show and make references to historical moments captured to establish this in the background. Then the head creatives go to the production heads for approval, and once the ideas are approved, the art department collaborates to implement the idea cinematically. 26

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

“We're in such a great place like Georgia,” Korchak said when asked why she enjoys filming where she’s based. “It wasn't difficult to make it come to life as far as looking like Chicago. We were able to implement those specific landscapes and things like that, to accommodate the look that we needed.” Having worked on shows filmed in Georgia, such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Quad” and “Being Mary Jane,” Marissa Korchak, the On Set Dresser for “Lovecraft Country,” praised Georgia’s malleable landscapes. “I think Georgia is a very special place because of that, because there are so many landscapes that can easily be portrayed as different places,” Korchak said. “We're capitalizing off of that and using it to its advantage.”

It is kind of cool to see just how versatile working in Georgia can be and how brilliant some people, especially in locations, are at finding these locations. EMILEE COX, SET DECORATION COORDINATOR

Emilee Cox explained that with the help of the locations team, they were able to locate beautiful places within Georgia that were perfect for filming. “It is kind of cool to see just how versatile working in Georgia can be and how brilliant some people, especially in locations, are at finding these locations,” Cox said. “I think it’s kind of a fun challenge to shoot for other places around the world and make it passable.” After finding the perfect location, the design team had to go in and recreate the scene in preparation for filming. According to Cox, when it came to recreating some of the spaces, it was a mixture of challenging and fun. “It took a lot of hours and a lot of time and a bit of money to recreate and cover up buildings and have to remaster stuff and make it for the ‘50s. It was a lot of fun and definitely a challenge in a lot of aspects to be able to make it look authentic,” Cox said.

Cox also has experience working on set in Georgia; she’s worked on “The Walking Dead,” “Ozark,” and “Raising Dion.” She revealed that her favorite building to film at is the Hurt Building in downtown Atlanta, which is a historic 18-story building located next to Georgia State University’s campus. “I’ve used it on several different shows, but each show uses it in such a different way,” Cox said. Working in the art department provides Cox with a front row seat to the evolution of the building the sets for each project. “It was really cool to walk in and to see the transformation of everything that we had to get and obtain to make it really unique and reminiscent of Chicago’s department stores of the time,” she said. “It really did feel like you were stepping back in time sometimes walking on these sets. It’s pretty awesome.” Cox and Korchak both jumped at the opportunity to work on this project for various reasons. For Cox, the chance to work on the set of “Lovecraft Country” provided her with the platform to shine a light on history that is typically forgotten about or brushed over. “I really can’t stand whenever history is being buried constantly and we conveniently forget about certain things or just kind of whitewash things, and I don’t want that to happen ever again … I want to be a part of the movement of pushing things forward and seeing the value of learning our lesson from past problems,” Cox said. Korchak explained that what drew her to the set was a combination of the script and being provided with the opportunity to work on a project with Green, Peele and Abrams. As a fan of science fiction and psychological films, Korchak was excited to see that “Lovecraft Country” was a combination of a little bit of everything. “I had never read anything like tht in my life,” Korchak told Oz when describing the first time she read the script for “Lovecraft Country.” The show manages to combine historical events, the spirit world, and fantastical monsters. “When I was asked to do that project, I was excited through the roof to do it.” On set, Cox and Korchak worked with various crew members to create everything that viewers were able to see in the background. “It really does pull people into the story more or less depending on how you dress it,” Cox said.

Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, Photograph by Elizabeth Morris, courtesy of HBO

“It just is incredible having a team that could work behind the scenes and work around the clock almost to make sure everything gets in on time.” “For the 1950s artwork … it was kind of hard and difficult to try and get access and try to get clearances for a lot of those pieces, because they are just so loved and cherished now,” Cox said about one of her many tasks: getting approval to use trademarked items on set. “We had to kind of work around it a little bit and we had some of our own painters come in and do some of [the] custom work.” Normally, Cox would also be responsible for product placement, which allows different brands to have their products featured in the show; however, since “Lovecraft Country” has a historical environment, she said that there were not many chances to do that. “We don’t have too many opportunities to have product placement, but there is a little bit in ‘Lovecraft Country.’ Primarily, I think Coca-Cola,” Cox shared. While she could not be on set most of the time during the actual filming, Cox was always busy helping prepare the sets that would be used for the future filming sessions. “Since we had most of the scripts upfront … we kind of had a motif

and we knew what we wanted to aim for and because we were dealing with such older pieces, and older sets, and different periods,” she said. “I like being able to build messages subtly just by putting stuff in the background and having hints to things and stuff.” The most challenging part of Cox’s role on set revolved around the stress of obtaining the clearances in a timely manner. “I will say that getting to get clearances for things, and that includes everything from like a painting in the background to a little poster to someone having something in their hands, can be stressful,” she admitted. “It is not like you can just go out to Target and buy a chair or something. You have to actually do the research,” Cox explained. “And sometimes it can make us pull our hair out to make sure that it happens in time.” Although researching the specific details added to some of the stress that the crew faced on set, Cox really enjoys doing it. “The crazy thing with a lot of those historical elements of the show is like doing the research was so much fun, especially for the amount that we covered on it. It’s a lot of hidden history in some ways; it’s really cool to have to try to unbury this history and kind of get the chance to expose it especially on such a wide scale,” she said.

While Cox’s responsibility focuses around acquiring the rights to use artwork and obtaining clearances for certain items on the set, Korchak assisted with maintaining the continuity of the show. “My job title on the set of ‘Lovecraft Country’ was to keep the integrity of the art department, so the production designer comes up with a look that they're going for. The set decorator finds these items, and they decorate it with the look that they're going for as well, and I actually work on set,” Korchak explained. “It's my job to keep up with the continuity, and make sure that everything's in the right place, and that we set good frames,” she added. “Sometimes we might have to shuffle around some of our set decoration to make sure that each frame is aesthetically pleasing.” As the On-set Dresser, Korchak focuses on ensuring that each scene will flow into the next, which ultimately assists in creating one cohesive project. “Every little detail counts when it comes to building the frame,” she said when asked about the mise-en-scene. For example, Korchak uses the small and large background details to portray the emotions of the characters. She described that if the character was upset in the last scene, she may suggest to the set decorator that the background reflect that

January / February 2021



Every little detail counts when it comes to building the frame. MARISSA KORCHAK, ON-SET DRESSER Jurnee Smollett on set of Lovecraft Country, Photograph by Elizabeth Morris, courtesy of HBO

the character is upset with an unmade bed or an unclean house. “Paying attention to detail and just thinking outside of the box and knowing the script and the material that [we’re] doing that day and having open communication with the art department to make sure that [we’re] all on the same page is really what's always key for me,” Korchak told Oz. “I have this saying that I say on set and it's ‘respect the frame’ because that's generally what my job is: to pay attention to the frame and to respect it like every detail matters.” Korchak’s position is similar to Cox; it’s object oriented skills and requires someone with acute attention to detail. When dealing with a period piece, it is imperative that the background materials reflect life during that time period, and both women are dedicated to the craftsmanship that goes into circumspectly constructing these spaces in history. “There would be some times on set where I would just have to keep an eye out to make sure that things were period appropriate, like the specific type of blinds that they had. Maybe if it was plastic, I might be looking like, this wasn't how blinds looked in the ‘50s, so just little things like that. My job heavily relies on attention to detail,” Korchak said.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Prior to arriving on set to film the show, Korchak said that her preparation consists of familiarizing herself with the part of the script that would be filming that day. After that, she brings her kit full of materials, which assist her in every daily task, from straightening a picture to tidying up a set, to the filming location and sets up for the day. “For instance, we may want to relocate a piece of art to a place that looks more aesthetically pleasing on camera. I have to be prepared to do so with any tools that are required … my kit has a collection of tools, tapes, extra set decoration pieces that may be requested to add to the set.” “You get your kit to set, you find your spot and you talk to the director about the set and you walk through the set and make sure that they're pleased with what they see for the day,” Korchak said. “Then, once you're filming, you’re hip-and-hip with the camera operators. You're pretty much with them all day and … creating the perfect frames.” When it comes to both the small and large details on set, Korchak explained that the most important thing when trying to maintain the continuity of the show is communication “You want to make sure that the set decorator and designer are happy with what they’re seeing. Sometimes there's things put

on set that we really want to see or that's really an important piece to the storytelling,” she said. “[You’re] making sure that you're communicating information to the correct people [and] that you know the designer is happy with what the frame looks like [and] that the director feels that this frame is encapsulating what they have in mind for the scene.” Korchak cut her teeth on theatre at an early age. She remembers her childhood, filming her own productions with her siblings as the cast. She achieved further experience in theatre throughout high school. Her high school theater experience sparked her interest in productions. “I wanted to understand the mechanics of every department, and learn how each department contributes to bringing the script to life,” she told Oz. Korchak’s theatre experience and foundation directly impacted the work that she did on the set of “Lovecraft Country.” “I think it plays a big role in what I do, because even for the fact that I'm kind of method, and I'm not an actor, but I'm sharing the emotions when I come to set.” With “Lovecraft Country” taking place in specific time frames, Korchak expressed that the hardest part about being on set was going back to some of

In Memoriam

the heavy moments in American history. “On this show, we got to experience some amazing pillars who contributed to Black culture,” Korchak listed Josephine Baker and Bessie Smith as some of her favorite reintroductions. Reintroductions were engaging in a multitude of ways; they brought excitement, like seeing Jackie Robinson swing through the insides of a flying monster, and they also brought challenges. “The most challenging part would probably be taking yourself back to those time periods,” she told Oz. “It can be heavy when you're filming Emmett Till's funeral, so that's challenging to make sure that you're still present and you're not too caught up in the moment [or] are too emotional.” Korchak aims to find a good combination of everyone’s ideas in order to make sure that everyone is proud of what they’ve collaborated on. “Sometimes one person's idea of something might differ a little bit from another person and so that becomes a challenge to trying to find a good medium to where everyone's happy and we like the work that we have and the final product that we have come up with,” she said. “Lovecraft Country” premiered on both HBO and its streaming platform, HBO Max in August of 2020 after the

series finished filming in last January. Both Cox and Korchak are proud of the product that they helped to create and tuned in weekly to watch the new episodes with their families and friends. “It became a thing in my household where people would come over on Sundays and we would have Lovecraft day,” Korchak said. For Korchak, each week’s episode left her with a rewarding and fulfilling feeling; watching the show every week filled her with a sense of happiness, because she was able to say that she had a role in making the script come to life. Still, she gives credit to all of the crew members who worked on the set and who also really put their all in creating what viewers watched weekly. “Everybody showed up and did their part. Wardrobe really did their thing. And then, of course, the art department, like our designer … really poured her heart and soul into those sets and so did the decorator, the decorator really poured her heart and soul and you can really feel it when you watch that. I feel like it translates,” Korchak said. Following the process from script to screen, Cox proclaimed her appreciation for the actors who portrayed the roles and brought the characters to life. “Getting to read the script is one thing and getting to have that feeling of this is going to be really good and then having someone portray that character and bring it to life is really cool. Everybody has their own interpretations of what those characters can be and what they put into the show,” Cox said. “I think the cast did a really phenomenal job at pulling those [interpretations] and putting good heart into it.” Both crew members and fans of the show are waiting anxiously for news from HBO about a second season renewal, with hopes that the sets stay here in the scenic Southeast.



Oz Magazine celebrates the life of Carol Sutton, who died at the age of 76 due to complications with COVID-19. The NewOrleans born actress was best known for her roles in “Lovecraft Country,” “Queen Sugar” (2014), and Steel Magnolias (1989) as well as for her passion for theatre. Her legacy expanded beyond the screen as a dedicated philanthropist whose work earned her the New Orleans Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell shared in a statement: "Carol Sutton was practically the Queen of New Orleans theater, having graced the stages across the city for decades. The world may recognize her from her performances in movies and on TV — whether it's 'Treme' or 'Claws,' or 'Runaway Jury' or 'Queen Sugar' — but we will always remember her commanding stage presence, her richly portrayed characters, and the warm heart she shared with her fellow cast and crew in productions such as '4000 Miles' and 'A Raisin in the Sun.' May she rest in God's perfect peace.”.

January / February 2021




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990





productions where they are

to be the watchdogs on set,


simply being hired to watch

and in conjunction with the

directly with production to

over the set as little more

1st AD, ensure proper PPE

ensure COVID-19 protocols

than a Covid Security Guard.

wearing, social distancing,

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hand washing/sanitizing,

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ask plenty of questions about

and ventilation for shooting

by cast and crew. A CCO is

duties and responsibilities,

location. As COVID--19 is an

either a standalone position,

and be ready with a list of PPE

airborne pathogen, often

generally for 1-2 day shoots,

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a CCO can better protect

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their crew by encouraging

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all in this together, and the

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more informed and confident

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filtration equipment that cleans

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function of enforcing Covid

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interaction with unmasked

Compliance. On longer shoots,

and coordination with the

talent, a CCO is best served

CCO’s are often supported

Production Supervisor/

close to set. Depending on

by the burgeoning Health

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level of involvement, a CCO

and Safety Department, but

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January / February 2021


Keller Berry on set

“It is always best to get your intel from the primary source. Knowing how the day-today operations go will help ease your transition into serving as a CCO”


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990




few courses that requires payment, the insider information specific to working on a film set is invaluable. HES goes over everything you need on a film production to best serve as a CCO. Upon completion of a quiz at the end of the course, you are provided with a “COVID-19 Compliance Officer Certification” downloadable pdf, and access to COVID-19 signage downloadable templates.

1 Bolster your knowledge and resume with online training courses specific to COVID19 infection prevention.

Film productions are looking for candidates who are knowledgeable of COVID-19, and have the credentials to back it up. The fastest (and safest way) to learn what you need to know is through many available online courses. Whether or not you have a medical background, brushing up on the specifics of this novel pathogen is important. Start with the free courses, and then work your way up to the paid courses once you are confident in the CCO role being a good fit for you. A. CDC.gov and Local Health Departments offer COVID-19 safety certificate courses on their websites. B. Coursera.org offers a free comprehensive contact tracing course through Johns Hopkins. C. Health Education Services offers a comprehensive 2 hour course that can be attended for $50. While this is one of the

2 Read the most recent “COVID-19

Return To Work Agreement” put out by film unions. This may be the single most important document with regards to a framework of how COVID-19 rules and regulations are being implemented in the film world. It is dry, so if you search keywords such as “COVID Compliance Officer”, “sanitation”, “testing”, etc. you will find answers to any questions about the COVID-19 rules and regulations for union productions, and help to build out your framework of understanding the expectations of the COVID Compliance Officer position. This is an invaluable resource to check regularly, even if working on non-union shoots, as a marker for the most up-to-date best practices. And it’s free to the public!

DISINFECTANT 3 Research COVID-19 specific companies so you can provide resources to potential productions looking to hire you.

Specifically, I would encourage having a list of companies that sell PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc. While ordering from conglomerate online sources is generally the most cost effective having access to a local provider can mean the difference between filming or not filming when required PPE is out of stock or does not ship in time. Being informed of local COVID19 testing companies will prove your true scope of knowledge since some productions handle testing for their own cast and crew. Research companies that can provide on location PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 testing to test cast and crew at your base camp. Read any and all local county health department guidelines for your area that relate to COVID-19 and the workplace. Productions in Georgia may film in more than one county so be sure to stay up to date on changing rules and regulations as they pertain to the workplace. Film production spaces are workplaces too!

MASKS 5 Reach out to people in the film industry who have worked as, or with, a CCO and pick their brain. It is always best to get your intel from the primary source. Knowing how the day-to-day operations go will help ease your transition into serving as a CCO. If you are expected to step into the role as a stand alone CCO, less support is often given, so finding out the play-by-play from someone who has already served in the role gives you a play-by-play to prepare yourself. 6 Brush up your knowledge of

film production and the production department since most COVID-19 related work falls onto their shoulders. You will likely be working closely with the production department.


encourage you to research “production department structural overview” to best understand the duties, responsibilities, and relationships of personnel. The more knowledgeable you are of a film set and its behind the scenes element, the more seriously you’ll be taken when you make recommendations or offer advice. It is possible to work as a COVID Compliance Officer in the film industry without industry experience- but it is imperative you have the overall process of film production down, and an earnest appreciation for film is always a plus! Remember, that as a CCO, you are being hired to keep people safe amidst a global pandemic. Luckily, using the tools above, you can come in confidently to intelligently assist those working toward setting up a safe workplace, and ensure the film project makes it to a smooth completion. Best of luck!

Presenting oneself as fully versed on all things COVID-19, and also having a firm grasp on film production, will make all the difference to a Production Coordinator/Supervisor looking to hire you. If you haven’t worked on a film set, or haven’t been on set/worked in production in a number of years, I’d January / February 2021


Lucy Keller, Former intern for Crazy Legs Productions


T H E B y :

J o h n

I N D U S T R Y M c C u r r y


s Georgia’s reputation as a nexus for film and television production has blossomed over the past decade, Atlanta’s production studios have been a magnet for college students seeking to get a foot in the door of the industry by scoring an internship. Several of the city’s studios have developed robust programs that give aspiring directors and producers a taste of the industry.



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Suzi Fera, Former intern for Crazy Legs Productions on a CLP set

Creative Sound Concepts intern, Elizabeth Cole, working on a film mix

CR AZY LEGS PRODUCTIONS Lucy Keller aspires to be a movie producer. A film studies graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, during the past year, she has served as location production assistant (PA) for “The Walking Dead” and “Doom Patrol.” In between college and her PA gigs, she served as an intern at Crazy Legs Productions in Atlanta. Keller says that internship provided her with an incredible leg up in launching her professional film career. “You can’t learn what a set is really like in school, and student films are not comparable,” said Keller. “[Crazy Legs is] very good at educating their interns and very willing to explain things over and over.” Keller is one of many young film industry hopefuls embarking on careers after serving internships with Atlanta production companies and film studios. Some of the other studios with structured intern programs include Third Rail Studios in Doraville and Creative Sound Concepts, an audio production studio. All of the internships are unpaid, but those who have been through the programs say the experience and networking opportunities are invaluable. Crazy Legs’ intern program has been around the longest amongst the companies Oz interviewed, running for about nine years; it’s also the largest. This semester, ten interns are learning a wide variety of aspects of the film industry. That number varies, depending on the studio’s needs, but it usually ranges between eight and eleven.

Kim Hinson, Crazy Legs Productions’ office manager and executive assistant, oversees the studio’s internship program. Hinson explained that the interns serve for an entire semester. There are three groups per year and each is made up of both local college students and students who move to Atlanta from other areas specifically for the internship. Interns are required to commit to working at the studio two days per week. “Our interns all go to set and they assist the PAs,” noted Hinson. “That is usually what interns want: to be able to go on set and observe, and to meet the people who are making the films, and to make all the connections they can while they are there. What we have going on each semester determines how many interns we have.” Landing an internship is a competitive process. Crazy Legs has varying requirements, depending on its projects. Résumés arrive constantly. Ten students were accepted into this spring’s program from about 35 applicants that were interviewed. Many more did not even make it to the interview stage. “What I am looking for are people who are interested in all aspects, because every two weeks we are going to set, then for the two weeks we are not on set all the interns are going to be in the office,” said Hinson. “I’m looking for people with a broad range of interests, because they are going to be working on everything from development to post production. The ones who want to work in production and work the 12 to 14 hours a day will have the opportunity to do that, and then they still have the opportunity to work in the office and help out there.”

January / February 2021


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Most interns are looking for handson experience, especially on set. An internship is a way to break into the industry. Only those who are hungry to be in the film industry are willing to work unpaid internships, and they are looking to make contacts, noted Hinson. “Our employees here have so much knowledge and experience, and are very successful in their fields. They have a lot of knowledge to share. The benefit to the interns here is face time with and exposure to these people in the industry, and that can hopefully lead to jobs for them.” Studios often hire former interns. Of Crazy Legs’ 30 full-time employees, eight are former interns. The studio makes an effort to hire former interns, including on a contract basis for specific projects. “If you have been here putting in the time and effort, we are going to do everything we can to help you,” stated Hinson. There are plenty of success stories. One former intern went on to work on a project for the Disney Channel in Los Angeles, another is working on the “Dead Silent” television series, and another spent her summer working on the Ryan Reynolds film, Free Guy, which was filmed in Boston. “The interns who come here and use the program how it is intended, which is to work hard and absorb as much as they

Creative Sound Concepts intern, Lindsey McKelvy, working on foley for a film 36

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


t h e y

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can while they are here, are the ones who are successful,” explained Hinson. Getting to the point of working on post internship film projects takes a lot of hard work. According to Hinson, the first day as an intern is not very exciting. Students go through an orientation process, which takes a few hours. They learn about communication between the different departments and take care of administrative tasks. During the interview process, Hinson makes it clear that the internship program is what a participant makes of it. Interns are encouraged to make the most of their downtime and get to know people in the company’s various departments. “When they have some down time, when they don’t have a task with a deadline, that is the time to take the reins into their own hands and talk to people in the various departments; to take the time to get to know the people they are working with. The advice I give to all of our interns is: we have a lot of people come through our doors. You are here to make an impression. You want people to remember you, because six months or a year down the road when you are looking to get hired somewhere, you will want us to give you a recommendation for that job.”

Creative Sound Concepts Head Engineer, Reed Lovell, working with intern, Spencer Poole, on a film mix

For a long time, Keller kept her film aspirations hidden from her parents; she told them she wanted to be a doctor. “As soon as I found out that UNCW had a film studies program, I said, ‘Mom, dad, I’m not going to be a doctor anymore. I’m going to make movies.’ They said, ‘You’re going to what?’ It was an interesting turn, but it’s working out and they have come around.” Suzi Fera completed two semesters as an intern at Crazy Legs in 2018 after graduating from UNC Wilmington. She noted the valuable aspects of the internship included the on-set experience, learning what it takes to be a capable production assistant and building a network to reach out to long after the internship came to a close. “Before I moved to Atlanta, I didn’t know anyone in the business,” admitted Fera. “Through Crazy Legs, I was able to meet and impress people working in the industry. It really jump-started my career.” Now, Fera has worked as a PA for a reality show on Lifetime and has an associate producer credit for “Ghost Nation” on the Travel Channel, which she described as an incredible learning experience. She hopes to eventually direct and produce narrative, scripted television. Keller also praises her internship as a major learning experience, including all the logistical and social minutiae of interacting with each department. “It was a great way to learn, so we could make a ton of mistakes,” she said. “I’ve learned to keep several balls in the air, to be aware of what’s going on; to be able to do more than one thing at a time.”

Left to Right Creative Sound Concepts Head Engineer, Reed Lovell, showing interns, Brett Schroeder, Austin Howard, and Sam McLean, how to clean up dialogue

Rebecca Beasley, another former Crazy Legs intern, is now working as a post production assistant and assistant editor at Sim International. She told Oz that her internship provided the opportunity to be mentored by editors, assistant editors and post PAs, which led her to excel in a job she loves. “I found the internship very valuable, because I was allowed to focus my interests in the post production department and ask many questions,” Beasley reminisced. “I enjoyed learning from a diverse group of people about the complexities of post workflow, and networking with professionals who were happy to share their stories with me and offer their support.” Hinson gives exit interviews to all interns, asking them to value their experience on a scale of 1 to 5. She says the answer is always a 4 or 5. “We ask whether they would recommend the internship to others, and the answer is always yes. At the end of this process, for the most part, we have had very positive feedback. If you are a go-getter, and are willing to put yourself out there, you are going to have a successful internship.” THIRD R AIL STUDIOS Third Rail Studios opened their internship program in Doraville in the Spring of 2017. It was imagined and assembled by Mayra Garcia, Third Rail’s marketing director. Classes range from three to five students for eight-week programs. Garcia created the program, but the studio’s entire staff oversees it.

“Right after I came here in early 2017, I realized we needed an outlet of some sort, to not only help our community, but to help underserved students,” Garcia recalls. “I was very much a community advocate prior to this job, so I came with that background.” Garcia began the program by allowing interested students to shadow studio personnel. That led to something more structured. “Studio management told me if I designed it, we would give it a shot. We began in the summer of 2017. It’s been going ever since, every semester, three times a year.” Most of the students Third Rail has recruited are in the midst of their college careers. Garcia believes students at the collegiate level benefit the most from the program. Recent high school graduates have participated, as well as current high school students, but that mix is more challenging, because many younger students don’t have a firm idea of what their career goals are at that point. “We’ve certainly cleared a path for [high school students] and some of them realize this is exactly what they want to do,” said Garcia. Students work at the studio two days a week for five to seven hours, but they also have the option to work longer. That often happens during shooting days when a production is in full force. Most interns actually view the opportunity to work longer hours as a perk. Third Rail puts the intern application on an app called Handshake, which is used by many colleges. The studio also has the application available on their website. The application process begins about three months prior to the start of an

internship module. Students are required to write an essay so Third Rail can assess their writing ability. The studio asks some personal questions about topics such as life challenges, family backgrounds and how their family upbringings affect the way they see the world. “It’s not necessarily about having a perfect GPA,” Garcia told Oz. “This is an opportunity for all types of people, not just ones with amazing literary skills. We like to have a variety of applicants with a variety of skills. Some students might have a lot of experience on sets, but maybe they are not great at math, for example. We base a lot on how well they interview, how they express themselves and whether they are able to get along with people; how they interact when they come in. Personalities are very important in this industry, and how [interns] see themselves.” Once accepted, interns begin learning the day-to-day operation of a production studio. Some of the tasks are basic, but are still viewed as essential, including learning how to welcome visitors at the door and the security procedures required for admitting visitors. Interns shadow some of the studio executives. This might include observing the stage manager, which offers them the opportunity to get a taste of what’s going on around the facility. It also includes visiting sets and learning what it takes to bring an entire production to life. They also have one-on-one time with Garcia and Third Rail’s president, Dan Rosenfelt. “They might know what a producer is and what a director is, but they don’t

January / February 2021


Left to Right Creative Sound Concepts interns, Nic Nelson, Haoran Li, Head Engineer, Reed Lovell, Studio Manager Jeremiah Bennett. Front Rochelle Waxton, all at the studio

Creative Sound Concepts intern, Dennis Williams, opening up his Christmas gift at the studio


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

know what a gaffer does, or that we have a paint department,” explained Garcia. “They have the opportunity to research and learn the terminology, and understand what it means to be in a studio. They might get to go on set and shadow some of the PAs or the assistant director. They will not have their own work responsibilities while they are here, but more of a shadow and observation opportunity. They will get a chance to create their own short films, which we will use on our social media.” Interns also have the opportunity to read scripts from the Writers Guild list and write synopsis based on what they’ve read. These tasks enable them to learn the structure of how a script is written and to discover and understand the importance of different writing styles. Afterwards, the Third Rail staff critiques their efforts. “We also allow them to attend various events,” said Garcia. “We are very friendly with other studios in town, so we ask them if we can bring our students, and they are pretty open to that, so that they can sometimes visit other facilities and see other productions in progress.” “They learn that they don’t all have to go to L.A.; there are opportunities here,” Garcia commented on the fact that Third Rail is a launchpad for careers in

Georgia’s industry. “We are nurturing them for the industry in general. We are happy to use our contacts to help them along, for the ones who decide this is what they want to do. We want kids to have the opportunity that we never did, to come in and see what happens behind the scenes. It’s not all glamour and it’s not all fun. It’s 12-hour days and a lot of hard work. Work ethic is so valuable in this industry, and that’s one of the things we focus on.” Anthony Fins, now a graduate of Florida State University, was an intern at Third Rail during the summer of 2019. He lauds the hands-on experience the Third Rail internship provided. “I had never had the experience of working in a real studio. Third Rail took a chance on me. It’s a great starting point for anyone interested in being a part of the industry.” Lane Silva was an intern at Third Rail last fall while attending Kennesaw State University. His career objective is to become a composer or a sound mixer, and the internship helped him get a taste of the industry overall. “I am trying to figure out my battle plan. I have been trying to get more of a network going. I’ve been able to go back to the friends I made at Third Rail and get their opinions,” stated Silva. “I felt like I was family there and I feel like they were invested in helping me better myself.”

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Creative Sound Concepts interns, Kyle Meadors and Haoran Li, having coffee in the studio lobby discussing their latest project

CREATIVE SOUND CONCEPTS Jeremiah Bennett, studio manager at Creative Sound Concepts (CSC), says his studio’s intern program began in 2017 at the suggestion of owner Steve Fisher who had purchased the company two years prior. Creative Sound tries to have at least six interns at any given time. The selection process includes submitting a résumé and engaging in an in-person or Skype interview. “Since we are audio post, we are looking for people with audio post experience or a degree in sound design,” said Bennett. “Especially people coming from the top schools with those programs, such as SCAD or Belmont University in Tennessee; we look at what kind of work they have done, as well as their demeanor and personality.” The application process is competitive and only about ten percent of applicants are brought in. According to Bennett, if you don’t have a degree from a reputable school or an extraordinary portfolio, and if you are not willing to really put in the work, you are not going to get in. The average internship runs six months for post-graduate interns. Last summer, the studio introduced a three-month session for undergrads. Internships at CSC require a 20 hour per week minimum. The studio tries to be flexible setting up the schedules. Similar to the other studios, CSC interns learn how to interact with people,

starting with greeting clients, answering phones and setting up sessions with clients. “We also have training where we have previously completed projects, such as commercials or mixing sessions,” explained Bennett. “We will give them a mixing session and have them work on it, then they will meet with our head engineer and he will give them notes on how they can improve it, and new techniques they can use. Once that project is at a satisfactory level, we’ll give them another project. There will be varying difficulty, where the first one starts simple and they work their way up to the hardest ones.” Although it is an unpaid internship, Creative Concepts has a policy to compensate interns for any hours they put in that directly generates income for the company. For example, they may record a podcast because the studio’s staff is too busy to do it. “We want everything they do to be an educational experience, because we are using this to fill potential engineering spots in the future,” revealed Bennett. “Since our program is still fairly new, we have not yet had the opportunity to hire any of our interns, but some of our fellow studios have hired our interns. We have had some move on to industry jobs in California, North Carolina and other states.” Bennett touts the real-world experience interns receive. “They get to

work with Disney, Netflix and Universal. We have major clients like Delta, CocaCola and UPS; clients you would not really get exposure to while in school. Even though they come here with a degree, they tell me over and over that after six months with us, they have learned things they never had a chance to learn before: they have learned how to put together projects.” One of the studio’s success stories is that of Sam McLean, who interned in early 2018. As a graduate of Belmont and alum of CSC’s internship program, McClean went on to be the full time assistant sound engineer for Horizon Media in Raleigh/ Durham, NC. The program is continuously evolving. The studio is constantly learning what works well for someone coming right out of school. “The goal is to make sure they are ready to succeed as full-time engineers.” Atlanta’s film interns are a diverse mix of ages, backgrounds and experience levels. Some are Georgia-based college students, while some move to the area for the internship; others seek to break into the business as a second career. They quickly learn being an intern is hard work, but a great opportunity to learn their way around a set. All hope to make an impression that will help launch their careers, and a growing number appear to be well on the way.

January / February 2021





Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


onothan “Jono” Mitchell and Madison Hatfield are rising in Atlanta’s film industry as writers, actors, and overall creatives. Widely known for their short film, Jenna Gets an Abortion, and feature film, Pageant Matierial, the pair is known for having unique, thought provoking, emotional stories that increase the standards for films of the underrepresented voices overall. Both creatives have dedicated countless hours to share some of the most personal moments in their scripts and on screen that have resulted in multiple awards such as best feature film (Atlanta Underground Film Festival), best LBGT film (Macon Film Festival, Women’s Comedy Film Festival), and the celebration of courage award for their film Pageant Material (Kansas City LBGT Film Festival). Hatfield is an Atlanta native who fell into the comedy sketch scene as a high school science teacher. There was nothing to demonstrate to Hatfield that

being a performer and writer was a career option. She eventually started to pursue her performance skills more seriously and began professional training, improving at various theaters, and performing sketches with Eternal Slumber Party, leading to various lead/ principal roles on her extensive resume and being represented by both Stewart Talent in Georgia and Rooster Films/Voltage in California. Mitchell had pursued film and performance as a kid and is formerly known for his series work, “Dear Jono” and “Stupid Morning [Expletive]” on Adult Swim. Currently he has over 30 short films, thirty web series, and owns Problem Attic Productions which is a film production and consultation company in Atlanta Georgia. Both Madison and Jono undoubtedly have great success before them, so Oz caught up with the pair to discuss their climb within the industry and how filmmaking newcomers can find success as well.

First, could you tell us a little bit about your background in the Georgia film industry, how you got started?

What were your biggest hurdles and when did you feel like you were starting to gain momentum in your work?

Madison: I'm from Atlanta. I was born and raised here, I left for a little bit to go to college in North Carolina and then I came back. I don't have much of a film background at all! [laughs] I was a high school science teacher for four years when I came back to Atlanta as an adult and I just got into the comedy scene here, I was doing a lot of improv and sketch and I realized I wanted to pursue that more seriously. I really got started more on the acting side and then got into writing when I met Jono as an actor.

Madison: It’s a lot of “no” … being told that you are not what people are looking for. It’s hard to be a new voice in an industry that values established voices, faces, and names. People have to say “yes” to you to reach certain levels in this industry and have access to certain resources. It takes a lot of resilience to take constant “nos” and get up the next day and still write, audition, and film shorts with our little crew because this is what I want to do. It was hard as a recovering perfectionist to accept that not everyone will say “yes” or be pleased by the work you do but at the end of the day you have to please yourself. It’s still a skill that I'm getting better at every day.

Jono: Filmmaking is something that I always wanted to do, I started writing scripts when I was fourteen and my first produced script came when I was 16 years old. A group out of Rhode Island made and sold it on...

...DVD which was really wild and I just continued from there. I’ve been making my own stuff since 2010 and, when I moved to Atlanta in 2014, I started connecting with other local filmmakers making independent content. I got a job at Adult Swim and worked there for five years as a Production Coordinator and I was also moonlighting as the host for one of their main streaming programs for about four years. I was acting too, part time, when I met Madison shooting a movie called Papa Is Dead in South Carolina where we played husband and wife. We started writing together three days after we met, which was the movie Pageant Material and we shot it six months later, which was crazy but ultimately a lot of fun.

Jono: I will never forget riding in the car with Melissa Simpson (of Film Impact...

...Georgia) to the premieres of Pageant Material at Dad's Garage and seeing a line around the block to get in. The first set of tickets sold out in ten minutes and they put more tickets up a week later and those sold out as well. That year at the Atlanta Film Festival, Pageant Material was the only film to sell out both screenings. That is when I knew what I was doing was right. I think the major hurdle I and most independent filmmakers run into is always going to be money and finding the finances to make things as good as you see them in your head. It's hard to track down money and have money. So I try to work smarter not harder and write for what I have and to write for things that are already available to me in order to spend as little as possible.

January / February 2021


FILMMAKERS ON THE RISE What projects have you worked on together that you’re most proud of? Jono: I think that I am proud of everything equally in different ways. I'm proud that Pageant Material even exists. It almost killed me, but made me stronger and I will approach every film I make now with a new set of eyes because of that experience. I’m proud of Jenna Gets an Abortion because it feels like the work of the city. So many people believed and put so much faith and work...

...into it. I watch it and it feels so removed from me that I can't believe it is my work. But what is my work? We have spec scripts and one is a horror film and I'm proud that we have subverted genres and did something we never did before. I'm just proud it's all in the world; we made it from nothing.

What is your approach to developing a story? Madison: Jono is an idea factory and wakes up with seven ideas, which is something I love. We usually write separately but try to come up with an outline first. Once we have nailed down the major parts of the story together we then get on Writer’s Duet and one...

person will be writing and the other reading and editing … It's been different ratios for who is doing what but trust is a huge element because I trust Jono will take my words and make them better and I trust that we can write something that sounds like one cohesive voice.

What do you like most about each other's writing styles ?

Madison: I love that Jono will come up with these really specific jokes and I think specificity in comedy is the secret sauce. I think a lot of times people think you have to tell a joke that everyone is going to relate to, but Jono has written such strange specific jokes usually inspired by things that have happened to him and inevitably they are the pieces of the script that people can't stop laughing at.


Jono: Madison can tow the line between heartfelt and comedic better than anyone I've ever known. She can so effortlessly walk this tightrope of making you laugh one moment and making you cry the next. The characters she writes are vibrant and enduring even at their worst and it's amazing to me to see unexpected characters be funny and true to themselves even in their worst moments.

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

I see that both of you are also acting in your own and each other's projects. Can you tell us the different approaches/ techniques you have with portraying the characters vs writing them?

Madison: I think I do less work than Jono. I'm afraid of developing a character too much with writing backstory and getting super deep with a character before I put them on paper. I tend to over analyze everything so I prefer when writing to just “poop it out” and get it out as quick as I can. I learn the characters as I am writing them and the revision process is when I make sure the character is who I want them to be.

Jono: How I approach characters with acting and writing are exactly the same. I look at who they are, I talk to myself in their voice as I'm driving, I say lines out loud to myself to see how they sound and I continue to do that until I find their voice. I'm a little obsessive and compulsive. It's very fun for me to understand every single step that brought them to where they are.


...There's too much time to be picky and obsess over things because you have seen it so many times it's hard to take a step back and look at it for what it is. It's how you handle your time, how you approach it, and how you use it to the best of your ability … I learn more and more about time in every production and the lessons learned are never applicable to the next one but the best thing you can do is be as prepared as possible, make it the best it can be with what's available to you at the time. Madison: I'm continuously learning so much about the business side of filmmaking because I was very new to the whole thing. It is preposterously expensive.

It is amazing to see how much it costs when you want it to look the way it does in your head. It makes you realize why there are dynasties in Hollywood. How you fund your work is really challenging. How often can you ask your friends and family to help you? How do you find people who have enough income to make a dent in your budget? It's really uncomfortable but there are grants available and organizations that want to help beginning filmmakers, not only in Atlanta, but all over the world; all you have to do is reach out and do the research. There's a lot of great information out there.

Which one do you prefer, being in front of the camera or behind? Jono: Writing. Period. End of sentence. To me, acting is really stressful. To live outside of yourself or being this version of yourself that you aren't all the time. I find it more comfortable and free to put things on the page and then completely step away from them. I find that when you are acting for the camera, you always take a little bit of it with you. A part of the characters will always be inside of you because you were able to be inside of them.

Madison: I have a harder time with this but if I was forced to choose, life or death, I think I would choose writing. I think that there is an opportunity to build a story from the ground up instead of being this single piece of a larger puzzle, but I love performing because it makes me a better writer to know the experience of the actor. What am I giving the actor in this script? Is it too much? Is it not enough? Having that perspective is always useful. I also like making people feel things and the actor gets to be the face of that emotion, which I am continually attracted to.

Continued on next page...

What are the hardest things about the production of film (pre production, production, or post production) and how do you overcome them? Jono: Every phase has unique challenges. Pre-production you will never feel like you had enough time. You will always feel behind. In production there will never be enough

time like you’re running a million miles an hour and you are going to reach the finish line before you are ready. In post production there is too much time. [laughs]... January / February 2021


FILMMAKERS ON THE RISE I also noticed that you both have film that could be perceived as a bit controversial such as Jenna Gets An Abortion and Pagent Material. What was the inspiration for these films?

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Jono: For Pageant Material I was in Gaffney, SC shooting this movie about living in a small town and I didn’t feel like there was an accurate picture of what it feels like to grow up queer in a small town. I wanted to show a queer story that was a celebration of joy even in the moments of pain through a lower class small town America through the lens of what I grew up in. I wanted to find a fun way to present it and and, as Madison and I were spitballing it, I just wanted him to be a drag queen but make it a Cinderella story as well. It just evolved into something so beautiful and honest but also absurd and silly and slapstick. There are parts of the movie that I actually forget exist and, when I rewatch it, it blows me away for being so funny and heartfelt and so true in a queer way. I wanted to show that following your dreams is universal and not unique to the queer community. I wanted Rodney, the main character, to be relatable to everyone because following your dreams is what everyone aspires to do; he just happens to want to put on a wig and make-up to do it.

Madison: Jenna Gets an Abortion is a direct response to Governor Kemp signing the heartbeat bill into law on May 2019. It was hard enough for him to unfairly take that election from us. To have overseen his own election, to be put into the governor's mansion and one of the first things he did was try to take away the rights of many female identifying people in his state. I got really depressed about it, thinking about the people who need that kind of care. We started writing in May and we were shooting by September and we premiered in April. It was a very fast process but it was urgent. Jenna Gets an Abortion is a celebration of the Atlanta film community and them standing with us having a voice by supporting this protest film that is also funny and sweet. It is reflective of the joy and style that Jono and I want to do forever, but it is based in a lot of pain and fear while looking at a world we could very well be headed towards.

Did you get any pushback or judgement (positive and/or negative) for the film that affected your trajectory in any way? Jono: The most controversial thing about it is that abortion is in the title. We tried hard to not make it an after school special … Whether or not she has the abortion is not the most important thing in the film, it is whether or not she has the choice to do it on her own and how we portray that. I did get a couple death threats which were honestly less than

I thought we would get when premiering the film, but for the most part the response has been overwhelmingly positive. And for Pageant Material, there was no issue at all. Isn't that great? But I used to host a show for Adult Swim live, in real time and people would call me and say much worse, so I was prepared for it honestly.

What can we expect to see from Madison and Jonathan in 2021? Jono: There's so much! Madison and I have just made a short film called If I’m Good. She wrote it, and a friend of ours Jonathan Pawloski directed it, and I starred in it. We are in post production for that. We were able to shoot that in the middle of a pandemic which was scary but it happened. We are also working with executive producer Stephen Beehler of RoleCall Theater here in Atlanta and producer Jordan Brown on a feature film called Retreat which we hope to shoot in February and March. There are also other things in the works that we can't tell you yet, but please know that it's very exciting!

Madison: We are very grateful that Jenna Gets an Abortion, being release online, helped us to get a team of literary managers behind us. We are really excited to be working with the Gotham Group in Los Angeles and it's been such a journey and a dream to have some enthusiastic, capable, experienced people who believe in our work as writers and filmmakers … The great joy, of course, is having the film exist forever, but second to that is the hope that what you do will help get you to the next step forward which is to share your work more widely. It has been a really amazing thing to happen in a year that's been filled with alot grief and sorrow.

What useful advice would you give to filmmakers who are launching their careers in the Georgia film industry? Jono: Go out and do it. Stop waiting. You carry a camera in your pocket all the time. Go and make a movie if it's what you want to do; there's no reason to let quality, time, or anything stop you. I think that one thing all filmmakers need to realize to set them on the best path possible is to not be afraid to let the seams show. It can be a little rough around the edges starting off because it's the only way you're ever going to grow and learn.

Madison: My advice is related to figuring out the stories you want to tell. We are never going to please everybody. Not everyone is going to like us. Not every story is for every person; there's nothing wrong with that and there's nothing wrong with you. It is specificity and truth that is the invitation for human connection, and trying too hard to please everyone just won't feel human enough for people to connect to. I want to always encourage people to know themselves and know the story they want to tell and trust that people will respond to it.


January / February 2021







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