Oz Magazine March / April 2020

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Good Storytelll  MARCH / APRIL 2020

film. tv. entertainment SINCE 1990




STAFF Publishers:

Tia Powell (Group Publisher) Gary Powell

Editor-in-Chief: Gary Powell

Managing Editor: B. Sonenreich


Martha Ronske Kris Thimmesch

Creative Director: Michael R. Eilers

Production and Design: Christopher Winley Michael R. Eilers

Social Media Engagement Intern

Cover Story: Crazy Good Storytelling, p.36 B. Sonereich is a writer and cinephile with a passion for the horror genre. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and film studies. While attending Florida State, she wrote and successfully defended her undergraduate honors thesis, "The Art of Adaptation Through Stanley Kubrick Films." In 2019, Sonenreich earned her Master’s degree in Communication at Georgia State University with a teaching assistantship. During her time at Georgia State, Sonenreich taught motion picture history and film aesthetics. Sonenreich has presented her film theory at University of Texas Austin’s Society For Cinema and Media Studies and is published in The Miami Herald, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Screen Queens, Vague Visages, and more.

Christine Bunish Feature Story: The Future of Vision, p.42 Christine Bunish has been a writer and editor covering the professional film, video, broadcast and advertising industries for more than 25 years. She was a writer at Broadcast Management/ Engineering and World Broadcast News and an editor at Millimeter before going freelance.

Taylor Ward

Copy Editing Intern


Cover Credit:

Feature Story: Writers' Block, p.48

Clay Voytek

Michael R. Eilers

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

ANNIE LOCKWOOD Feature Story: Cocoa Brown Q & A, p.52 For Advertising Information:


For Press Release Submission: brooke@ozonline.tv

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 © 2020 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Annie Lockwood is an Atlanta born and bred jack-of-all-trades primarily working as a writer, stand-up comedian, and actor. Since 2013, she has contributed to the film industry in a variety of aspects such as a wardrobe stylist assistant, as a junior talent agent, and recently working in casting for shows like the Bachelorette and Bravo’s Blind Date. Annie is a proud member of WIFTA (Women In Film and Television Association) of Atlanta and is represented by Classic Talent for on camera roles.

Tracy Page Photographer: Crazy Good Storytelling ,p.36 & Cocoa Brown Q & A, p.52 Tracy Bosworth Page has focused on creating memorable images of actors and entertainers for over 13 years. She is an award winning photographer specializing in editorial and commercial portraits and is an Ambassador for Zeiss Camera Lenses, based in Atlanta. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia with her degree in advertising and fine art.







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

Scene Stealer and Cross-Country Comedy Maven A Q&A with Cocoa Brown about her career in the film, television and comedy industries



COVER STORY Crazy Good Storytelling Crazy Legs Productions and how they use empathy to create binge worthy content



Oz Scene

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Opening Night Gala


“Reel People Care” Pinewood Studios Winter Gala

42 52

FEATURE STORY The Future of Vision Georgia cinematographers delve into the evolution of cinematography


Aztec Warriors Studios Opening


FEATURE STORY Writers’ Block Shining a light on writer representation in Atlanta

Atlanta Models & Talent Milestone



Let Me Give You My Card

March / April 2020


OzCetera BoltX displayed on tracks


roduction Consultants and Equipment (PC&E) has acquired the first and only high-speed, motion controlled Bolt X cinebot east of the Rocky Mountains. The BoltX, created by Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) in the UK, is a portable motion control system. It can be set up and ready to shoot in under an hour and is equally effective on location or in a studio environment. The addition of the BoltX to PC&E’s line brings new creative possibilities for directors to capture unique footage. “As the film industry continues to grow in Georgia, we are making a major

PC&E ACQUIRES THE BOLTX investment in the latest technology by adding the BoltX to our equipment line. This is a true game changer in the Georgia film industry for all of our clients on film, TV or commercial shoots,” said Mark Wofford, PC&E’s general manager. “In addition to the equipment, we are partnering with Nigel Rowe, who is one of the world’s leading technicians for motion control cinebots,” added Wofford. Rowe, founder of Roundel-MC, has 25 years of production experience; 20 of those years have been specialized in motion control. Rowe is also an

accomplished VFX supervisor, photographer, director of photography and stereographer. He has worked on many feature films shot in the greater-Atlanta area, including Marvel’s Ant-Man. “I believe the addition of the Bolt X to [PC&E’s] excellent stages, camera, lighting and grip departments will create a turnkey solution for high-speed and high-end VFX shoots,” said Rowe. “With PC&E’s generators and grip trucks, the BoltX can work on almost any location or studio.”

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March / April 2020


OzCetera Beast Beast



anny Madden, director of the Georgialensed feature film Beast Beast, tells a story of three high school kids growing up in a quiet southern town. The Peachtree City raised director recently had the opportunity to screen the film at the Sundance Film Festival in late January. For Beast Beast, Madden takes his awardwinning short film, Krista, and transforms it into an unsettling feature-length exploration of adolescence, performance and identity. Shirley

Chen, who plays Krista, gives a remarkable performance with a sense of the vulnerability and joy of falling in love for the first time. Alongside Chen’s performance, Will Madden (who plays Adam) and Jose Angeles (who plays Nito) deliver disquieting turns as young men grappling with their individuality in the most uncertain moments of their adolescence. Overall, the film captures what it means to come of age in an era that is constantly shaken by technology and social media.

Beast Beast was executive produced by Alec Baldwin alongside Georgia-based producer Tara Ansley. A large contingency of the production team are alumni of McIntosh High School in Peachtree Cit y, including Madden, Ansley, Lauren Wilde (head of hair and make-up), Will Madden (actor and acting coach) and Jonathan Silva (grip). The film sold out within minutes at Sundance and is being distributed by XYZ Films and Vanishing Angle.

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March / April 2020




Michael Rayle

Andi Sowers


am Flax Ar t & Design was thrilled to supply the visual creatives behind Bad Boys For Life with rented drafting furniture, foam and gatorboard, cutting tools, plotter paper, adhesives and more. Under new, employee ownership since late 2018 and after its recent relocation to Northside Drive, Sam Flax is elated at the opportunity to continue supporting the film industry in Georgia. “After presenting a complicated shopping list shortly before closing, the staff’s response immediately made me a customer for life, taking the request as a challenge and not a problem,” said Tanya Webb, set decoration and art department coordinator, buyer and production assistant. “We are so excited to be supplying some of the best creatives in the industry with the tools and materials they need to bring their ideas to life on the screen, and we are overjoyed at the relationships that we are building with production teams,” commented Sam Flax co-owner, Sophia Bowman-Albirt. As Atlanta is home of everything creative, Sam Flax is here to make sure production teams can get what they need, when they need it, whether they’re entering their tenth season or just beginning pre-production.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990



ATSE Local 479 is committed to building a robust, sustainable and safe environment in the states of Georgia and Alabama for the production of motion pictures going on currently and for years to come. Celebrating its members is at the heart of the organization, and IATSE championed two of its members’ recent nominations for industry awards. IATSE’s Andi Sowers was nominated as part of the VFX team for the 18th annual Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards for outstanding

visual ef fec t s in a photoreal episode. Additionally, IATSE recognized member, Michael Rayle, who was nominated for the 56th Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards for outstanding achievement in sound mixing for 2019. Both nominations were based on Sowers and Rayle’s work on the third season of Georgia-lensed, Netflix original television series Stranger Things.

March / April 2020



Outdaring Gravity

Stephen Cocks and Stephanie Carson at Promax


tlanta-based creative studio Elevation has been crafting solutions for the world’s most prominent brands for over two decades. WithHopper's a smallCabin team fromof multidisciplinary creatives, Stranger the company Things has created content, commercials and rebrands for companies such as Disney, Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola and many more. Recently, the Elevation team tackled one of their most challenging projects yet: a brand refresh for itself. “Rebrands start by figuring out what question you’re trying to answer,” said Stephanie Carson, Elevation’s executive producer. “Ultimately, for Elevation, it was a question of ‘What is our purpose?’ Not only what do we do, but how we do it in a way that is distinctly Elevation. We sought to create an identity that instantly communicated that idea.” The team embarked on a creative process that started with a significant amount of brainstorming, exploring what would evoke Elevation’s brand both visually and linguistically. Ultimately, two words summed up Elevation’s mission: Outdare Gravity. “The phrase ‘Outdare Gravity’ emerged as we considered the


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

original intention of our company’s name,” said Stephen Cocks, Elevation’s founder and executive creative director. “Since our founding, we’ve been elevating brands we love. As we looked to understand what our brand was about, we thought about how we could push that even higher… Outdare Gravity sums up our attitude toward the work that we do, [and] it also acts as a constant call to adventure.” As part of the rollout of their new branding, Elevation redesigned their website. In addition to their portfolio, team

bios and contact information, visitors can peruse a creative sandbox aptly titled “Float.” This page acts as a repository of random animations, sketches, creative tools and whatever else the team at Elevation creates in their spare time. “One of our core missions is to encourage our team to grow as artists. Great work is not born from complacency,” said Carson. “We wanted a place for our team to invent and explore. Not only is it a way for us to keep our skills sharp, it results in some really cool work.”

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March / April 2020


OzCetera An aerial view of Pinewood Atlanta



n January, Green Honey, LLC, headed by Pinewood Atlanta Studios president Frank Patterson, closed a $16.5 million round for investment in two dynamic content companies that will be the first to expand to Pinewood and become part of Georgia’s burgeoning entertainment scene. Los Angeles-based children’s entertainment company Sutikki and New York-based Believe Entertainment Group will now base production offices at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, joining 49 other entertainment companies on the Pinewood Atlanta lot. The United Kingdom-based Pinewood Group Limited recently sold its stake in Pinewood Atlanta to its local joint venture partners, River’s Rock, LLC, an independently-managed trust of Dan T. Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Patterson’s Green Honey has also acquired a significant ownership position in Pinewood Atlanta Studios itself and will continue raising venture funds in 2020 for further investment. Green Honey is a Georgia-based venture company founded in 2018 to fund investments in businesses and initiatives that grow the creative market ecosystem at Pinewood Atlanta Studios. The organization was founded by Pinewood Atlanta senior executives Patterson and Craig Heyl. Green Honey identifies and invests in growth stage content and technology companies with top leadership teams in the entertainment industry. “These deals, along with our future investment in content and technology companies, represent the next step in the evolution of Georgia’s production ecosystem,” said Patterson. “We are now able to imagine, fund, produce and distribute entertainment content, while deepening the bench of the dozens of other entertainment-related companies already located at our studios.” 12

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

March / April 2020


OzCetera On set in Columbus, GA

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s a result of the success of Georgia’s film industry and the progress in Columbus, the Columbus Film Commission has begun hosting quarterly meetings called Focus Film Columbus GA. The meetings are intended to connect industry professionals, local government leaders, business owners and artists. The first meeting was held in December and was facilitated by Visit Columbus GA alongside the Columbus Film Commission. “Columbus is on the radar of many producers and directors looking at Georgia,” said Peter Bowden, president and CEO of Visit Columbus GA and the Columbus Film Commission. “Our team has worked closely with numerous productions and secured films with total budgets in the millions of dollars.” Jeffrey Stepakoff, the Georgia-raised executive director of the Georgia Film Academy, was the first featured speaker at a Focus Film meeting. Stepakoff discussed ways the region can further rally to be in contention for film projects and how local artists can succeed by shooting in Columbus. He praised the public and private partnerships in the region and shared additional ways the community can further benefit from the entertainment industry by providing incentives to content creators. “As a community, we have enjoyed incredible success in 2019, landing productions and being considered for many others,” added Bowden. “Focus Film Columbus is our way of educating and communicating activity to those with a stake or interest in film in the region.” In addition to these quarterly meetings, the Columbus Film Commission will be launching a companion website that will also function as a reference point for those in and outside the area to stay updated on film industry happenings in Columbus.

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Cameron Arnett with both of his movie daughters, Brianna Hope Benton and Aryn Thompson



oviegoers flooded into Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema for the world premiere of Cameron Arnett’s moving feature film, Mattie: The Discovery. Arnett, who has lived in Atlanta since 1998, is the executive producer, director and co-star of the film. Brianna Hope Beaton makes her acting debut as the courageous teen Mattie, a young girl growing up in a tumultuous home environment. She soon realizes that she can see what others cannot and must decide whether she will use this gift for good or evil. Alongside his wife and co-executive producer, BJ Arnett, Mattie: The Discovery has garnered awards at film festivals nationwide, including best feature film, best first-time producer, best teen actress and best supporting actor and actress. The Arnetts are now fundraising for the second installment of what will eventually become a Mattie trilogy. “At the moment, we are distributing digitally and employing the Amazon platform to make that happen,” added BJ Arnett. “Our plans are to expand our reach as we attract more investors through the vehicle of Mattie: The Discovery.”

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he Georgia General Assembly issued resolutions praising Georgians working in the state’s f ilm and television industry, an honor that marks the release of the new book #WeAreGAFilm. The book is produced by The Georgia Studio and Infrastructure Alliance (GSIA), which represents local investment in Georgia’s film and television production industry. The book includes dozens of stories about Georgians across the state who support the industry through jobs ranging from catering and transportation to location management and special effects. “We live here, we work here, our families are growing up here,” said Beth Talbert, head of the GSIA and vice president of studio operations at Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta. “The alliance has made it a priority to tell the stories of Georgians working in the film and television industry, and building lives and families around these careers.” #WeAreGAFilm includes sixty stories, with regional spotlights on Barnesville, Covington, Metro Atlanta, Rome and Savannah. Georgians from towns like Sharpsburg, Thomasville and Lawrenceville are also featured in the book, emphasizing the real-person impact the industry has on the state. Members of GSIA serve the film and television industry in a variety of ways, including providing studio space, camera equipment, visual effects, post production services and more. The goal of the organization is to share stories about Georgians building careers and changing their lives through employment and opportunity in the state’s ever-growing industry.

March / April 2020





he American Youth Arts Society introduces the arts to at-risk youth in disadvantaged and underserved communities through cinema, music and interac tive media. The organization has introduced The Shoot Film Not Guns AntiBullying and Stop the Violence initiatives. The initiatives are designed to redirect youth and their usage of smartphones in a positive manner by exploring the field of cinematic arts. The participants will be able to try their hand at a variety of film skills, including cinematography, directing, screenwriting, editing and producing. The event will begin with a series of “Careers in Film” workshops and will culminate with an anti-bullying and stop the violence interactive panel discussion. By the end of the event, participants will be challenged to assemble a small production team in their respective schools to create an “Anti-Bullying/Stop the Violence” public service announcement (PSA). Projects will be submitted to The American Youth Film Festival. The winning PSA and production team will be recognized at the film festival in Atlanta this June.

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


he Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA) announced the winners of the 2019 GAFCA awards. This year marks the ninth annual awards program for the critics group. The association is made up of 30 film critics from around the state, representing print, television, radio and online media. “GAFCA was created in 2011 with the intention to promote film criticism and the film industry within the state of Georgia,” said founder Cameron McAllister. “I think within the context of the Georgia film industry…we are adding to the general sense of enthusiasm, and subsequently the box office.” Major awards included Parasite (best picture and director), Marriage Story (Adam Driver for best actor), Us (Lupita Nyong’o for best actress), The Peanut Butter Falcon (Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema) and much more. “Honestly, [the Oglethorpe Award] may be my favorite category of the entire annual awards,” added McAllister. “The films shortlisted range from Avengers to tiny short films that might have played just the smaller Georgia film festivals. It is a special way we can spotlight local productions and encourage those filmmakers to keep doing what they are doing.”

UGA students Lorenzo Cooper and Lucia Vereen on set



he University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences have aligned with Pinewood Forest and Georgia Film Academy to create a Master of Fine Arts in film, television and digital media program. This particular program is the first of its kind in the Peach State. For their first year, MFA candidates enroll in coursework within an academic setting and move onto producing projects in a major studio setting during their second year. “The University of Georgia is uniquely positioned to house this interdisciplinary program that will make a lasting economic and educational impact on one of our state’s leading industries,” said UGA’s president, Jere W. Morehead. “As Georgia continues to grow as a world leader in film and TV production, UGA will help meet our state’s critical need for world-class writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and other key personnel for years to come,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. The new MFA program is a significant addition to the university’s already strong educational offerings related to the film and television industry, including Grady College’s entertainment and media studies major and Franklin College’s film studies major. “This program is an important step in the evolution of film studies at UGA as we continue to broaden our students’ creative abilities,” said Alan Dorsey, dean of Franklin College. “The collaboration between Franklin College and Grady College will produce many new imaginative projects and prepare a new generation of graduate students for exciting careers in global media.”

March / April 2020


OzCetera An instructor demonstrates AVID Media Composer to a student in a training course



loud to Ground is now offering training courses to offer students Avid Certification Programs. The Avid Media Composer certification is recognized worldwide as the industry standard for assistant editors in feature films and broadcast television. The course equips students with a unique skill set and knowledge of the editorial process, industry standard digital imaging and story forging on both motion picture and episodic nonlinear productions. At the end of the course,

students are prepared to advance their career in post production within the film and television industry. “Our teams at Cloud to Ground are some of the best in the business,” said Scott Thigpen, chief operations officer of Cloud to Ground. “With our state-of-the-art equipment and existing Avid product expertise, we are thrilled to have been chosen by Avid to provide a training environment to help others achieve the highest level of success possible.”


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eading up to the 44th annual Atlanta Film Festival & Creative Conference (ATLFF), the Atlanta Film Society is pleased to announce the first wave of feature film programming. This selection comprises six films, made up of two narratives and four documentaries. “Each year we have the privilege of receiving films from thousands of f ilmmakers across the world,” said ATLFF programming director, Alyssa Armand. “Our greatest joy as programmers is to discover unique and compelling works that stand out from the crowd and truly make us feel something. This slate is a brief glimpse of what you can expect from our 2020 program.” This group of six films comes from a new ATLFF record of 8,559 works submitted. Hailing from Afghanistan, Belgium, the Philippines, Sweden and the US, these films represent the inclusive and far-reaching breadth of the forthcoming complete festival lineup. Last year, 50% of ATLFF’s film program was directed by women, 40% was directed by filmmakers of color and 20% came from Georgia-tied filmmakers. Of the six films, one is directed by ATLFF alumnus, Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble). Some Kind of Heaven held its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Two narrative features are also included in the lineup; Curtis from Chris Bailey follows a former basketball star struggling with his mental health, and Milkwater from Morgan Inari examines the complexities of having children in queer relationships. The documentary, Cinema Pameer, showcases the day-to-day of a movie theater operating in downtown Kabul, while the documentary, Overseas, takes a look at Filipino domestic workers receiving training to start new jobs abroad. These films will be joined by nearly 200 others and will be screened at the festival from April 30th through May 10th.

AP RI L 30 - M AY 10 LEARN MORE at www.atlantafilmfestival.com

March / April 2020



Mark Stith, Olayimika Cole, Ty Davis, Mandy Fason, and Art Jones at the screening of Ali's Comeback



he Atlanta History Center hosted a screening of Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story, the Georgia-lensed, featurelength documentary, in January. The film delves into the story of Muhammad Ali’s first professional fight after he was charged for draft evasion during the Vietnam War. After attempting to receive a license to fight in about 60 cities for three years, the city of Atlanta granted Ali with a license to go back into the ring in 1970. This emotionally charged story is divided into seven “rounds” or parts, specifically investigating how the Atlanta fight was greenlit in the first place. Filmmakers interviewed lawyers, politicians, and Ali’s then-wife, Khalila Ali, about this historical moment. The film was screened to a full house and received a standing ovation. Additionally, found footage from the fight that changed the course of boxing history is interlaced throughout the documentary.

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“Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story has been well received by every audience. The documentary won the People's Choice award at the Pan African Film Festival. The film screened in Washington, D.C. and New York as part of the African Diaspora International Film Festival [and] we were an official selection in the Montreal International Black Film Festival,” said Mandy Fason, one of the producers on the film. “We are in talks with three distributors in the US and one from the UK. Our team is working diligently to satisfy the legal opinion for all clearances; all we need is the last funds to come through to cover the expense of making our film a solid deliverable good…The momentum we picked up from the Atlanta premiere is exactly what we needed to carry us across the finish line.”



he Athens Jewish Film Festival celebrates Jewish life around the globe with an expanded five day schedule of films and events. After their opening night gala at Georgia Museum of Art on University of Georgia Athens campus, attendees will have the opportunity to watch Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles on the silver screen. “In our 12th year we continue to showcase international films made by independent filmmakers,” said Athens Jewish Film Festival president, Ron Zell. “These films are rarely, if ever, seen by Athens-Clarke county citizens, as they are small budget films that deal with specific subject matters.” To view the festival’s program and purchase tickets, visit the Athens Jewish Film Festival website.



ast & Crew, a company that provides payroll and human resources, accounting and f inancial, work f low and productivity software and services to the entertainment industry, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Media Services. Media Services is a payroll and production management solutions company servicing film, television, digital streaming and commercials. The company has been providing these services to the entertainment industry for more than 40 years. This transaction brings together two companies with the shared mission of digitizing, automating and simplifying the experience of creating entertainment content. “Media Services is a great fit for Cast & Crew,” said Cast & Crew’s chief executive officer, Eric Belcher. “We are well-aligned in our shared values, complementary strategies, compatible technology portfolios and consistent corporate cultures. As a combined company, we will continue to strive to deliver bestin-class products and services to our clients, and believe that existing clients of both companies will benefit from the combined experience, products and services that each company has honed over the past several decades.” Media Services will continue to operate as a distinct brand under the leadership of its chief executive officer, Barry Oberman, who will report directly to Belcher. “The need for future-facing, end-to-end workforce management solutions is surging in the content creation space,” said Oberman. “We are thrilled to join Cast & Crew and its family of well-recognized brands to continue building on those solutions for a growing variety of markets together. Cast & Crew is committed to top technologies with client-forward service, making this an ideal alignment for us. We look forward to integrating with their team.” Cast & Crew was supported in this transaction by its parent company, EQT. “The addition of a strong brand like Media Services will add to Cast & Crew’s solid platform and help to enhance and expand the scope of the products and services that we collectively offer to our clients,” said Kasper Knockgaard, partner of EQT. “We are pleased to see this sustained momentum in the expansion and diversification of the Cast & Crew portfolio.”



eorgia has a new supplier for molding, casting supplies and SPFX. Fox and Superfine, LLC (F&S) carries lines such as Polytek, Sculpt Nouveau, Monster Clay, Polygem, EBA palettes and much more. The F&S team is thrilled to be the first to bring products such as Sculpt Nouveau to the East coast. In the future, F&S is eager to expand to house mold making and educational classes as well. The Fayetteville-based store offers products that have never been offered in the Southeast. Most film and television productions have these products shipped in from California, which becomes a big cost factor. Additionally, the production offices in Georgia receive the Georgia spend tax benefit when they purchase within the state.

March / April 2020


OzCetera Full Panel addresses the GPP members. From Left to Right. Hal Long, Adam Coggin, Fatimah Abdullah, Charles Lemons, Ron Anderson, Scott Salamon



eorgia Production Partnership’s (GPP) newly elected co-president, Trish Taylor, and vice president, Darius Evans, kicked off GPP’s first monthly meeting of 2020 by recognizing their new board members. The newly welcomed board includes both co-presidents, Taylor and Aneesah Bray, Evans as vice president, Susan Moss Simmons as secretary, Joe Williams as education chair, Alexus Bussell as volunteer coordinator, Briana Franklin as marketing and communications chair, Michael Jackson joining John Wilkins as industry relations co-chair, Leslie Green as membership chair and Kimberly Rayborn as membership vice chair. “I’m thrilled that the GPP membership has elected me once again to ser ve the par tnership as their 2020 -2021 co-president. Aneesah Bray and I have big plans to bring GPP’s message not only statewide but also on a national level,” said


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Introducing The New GPP Board of 2020-2021. From Left to Right. Co-president Patrica Taylor, industry relations co-chair Michael Jackson, governemnt relations chair Peter Stathopoulos, secretary Susan Moss, immediate past co-president Lisa Ferrell, marketing and communications chair Briana Franklin, volunteer coordinator Alexis Bushell, education chair Joe Williams, vice president Darius Evans. Members not in photo, Aneesah Bray co-president, Melissa Goodman governance chair, Kristy Claybaugh Treseraur, Lisa Green membership chair

Taylor. “Protecting Georgia’s tax incentive, which is the main driver for the creation of a GA film industry and the explosion of film production in GA, is our main mission.” Af ter Peter Stathopoulos, G PP ’s government relations chair, updated GPP members on the impor tance of being involved and aware of the current government affairs dealing with Georgia’s filming tax incentive, Wilkins and Jackson ushered the meeting into it s panel discussion, “Finishing in Post: Editorial/ VFX/Color Grading.” Moderator Hal Long,

director of photography at Henry Films, welcomed panelists to talk about each of their processes and knowledge on the post production experience. Panelists we re Fa t i m a h A b d u l l a h , exe c u t i ve producer at Primal Screen, Ron Anderson, senior colorist at Colorama, Adam Coggin, VF X super visor at Cosa VF X , Scot t Salamon, head of production at Long Form Deluxe Atlanta, and Charles Lemons, post supervisor and editor of THE ART OF CIL.

Mall of Georgia



llied E sp or t s , a global esp or t s entertainment company, and Simon, a global leader in premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations, joined forces to make Mall of Georgia in Buford the new location for the companies’ first dedicated esports venue as part of their previously announced strategic alliance. As part of the Allied Esports Property Network, the venue will feature regular amateur and professional esports tournaments and events across a variety of games and genres. The location, which will have full broadcast and streaming production capabilities, will also of fer PCs and consoles for daily use, full food and

beverage options, experiential retail and more. The redevelopment of the current retail space is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2020, with an opening anticipated in the second half of the year. “We’ve long felt that the gaming and esports communities in the Southeast, especially the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, are vibrant and growing and believe we have a location at Mall of Georgia that will serve as a dynamic hub for esports experiences in the region,” said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. “We’re excited to launch this first-of-its-kind, on-mall venue and continue to develop and expand on this new concept for additional Simon destinations.”

Allied Esports and Simon announced their alliance when they unveiled intentions to open dedicated esports venues at Simon centers around the country and create a co-produced, national, amateur esports tournament called the Simon Cup, featuring online competition and in-person events at Simon destinations. The new location at Mall of Georgia, as well as additional future locations at Simon properties around the country, will become key components of the Simon Cup moving forward. The companies will announce plans for the 2020 edition of the Simon Cup in the near future.

March / April 2020



Screenwriter Michael Lucker from Screenwriter School and student Angelie Denizard listen to another group's table read

Students read their drafts of their scripts to hear feedback (Top) Ryan Monolopolus, AJ Jones and Hamid Thompson (Bottom) Carlos Velasco, Shaun Mathis and Gillian Fitzgerald



movie-making course unlike any other began in January right here in Atlanta. Local business Nova House has teamed up with Laconic Production and Film it 4 Fun to bring the four month program “Film Your Sh!t” to life. The program includes a film school and practical, hands-on experiences in which students tour Atlanta’s premiere production spaces, learn from industry leading professionals, team up to make their own films and screen them at an industry mixer this spring. “Simply put, our goal is to create the production program we wish we had coming up in the industry,” said Ryan 26

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Monolopolus, director and co-founder of Film it 4 Fun. “By growing and supporting the emerging filmmakers Atlanta has to offer, we can truly build a lasting industry here.” The program runs weekly at Nova House with instructors Gillian Fitzgerald and Shaun Mathis. “Everyone knows we need to start making our own content here in Georgia. It’s the only way to truly make our market sustainable. But people need to start running their productions in a sustainable, professional manner; that’s where we come in,” explained Fitzgerald, who is also a co-owner of Nova House. “We want students to be empowered

to go out and make their own stuff once the class is over,” said AJ Jones, co-owner of Nova House. During the program, students will be divided into groups for each production and will learn how to manage and track expenses with a $1,000 budget for their films. They will create a script, organize a film shoot, shoot professional level footage on provided equipment and edit the footage. At the completion of the course, all students will have a finished film to be added to their reels and submitted at festivals. The program is scheduled to finish in early May 2020.

Award-winning filmmaker Alexandre Philippe discusses the history of horror, the importance of the genre, and why monsters make excellent metaphors during his recent SCADFILM event at SCADshow

Sundance Film Festival alum, Alexandre Philippe speaks to SCAD dramatic writing students during his masterclass “Scripting the Unscripted” at the SCAD Ivy Hall Screenwriting Center in Midtown Atlanta

Sundance Film Festival alum, Alexandre Philippe in-conversation with SCAD television producing professor Michael Kinney following his latest documentary, "Memory" on January 8



any fans of science fiction films will cite the chest-burster scene from Alien as a turning point for the genre. Therefore, it’s no wonder that Swiss director Alexandre Philippe turned his lens to this pivotal moment in film for his sixth feature-length documentary, Memory: The Origins of Alien. As with his previous documentary 78/52, which focuses on the iconic shower scene in Psycho, Philippe chose the Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCADFILM festival to screen Memory in Atlanta. “I have a little bit of a history with SCAD now for the past couple of years,” said Philippe. “We keep thinking about things that we can do together that we can bring to SCAD, and this was a no-brainer!”


Memor y examines the relationships between screenwriter and visual effect mastermind, Dan O’Bannon, Swiss artist, H.R. Giger and director, Ridley Scott. The film investigates how the melding of these three imaginations created the aesthetics and horror for which Alien is now so well known. “The films that I make are not behindthe-scenes movies,” explained Philippe. “They’re film essays that try to figure out why these movies resonate with us culturally. Alien wasn’t the movie people wanted to see; it was the movie people needed to see. The idea of Origin was to dig deep into those reasons, and I realized very quickly that in fact Alien resonates with audiences on an unconscious level.”

Philippe cites fear of the unknown and curiosity about the ancient past as major themes in Alien. For this reason, he was interested in taking a mythological approach to this film. “When you look at the way that Giger works, and the way that Dan O’Bannon works, and the symbiosis between these two artists, and then you bring Ridley Scott into the picture, they were really trying to tell a story about the ancient past much more than the distant future.” For his next film, Philippe turned his camera towards The Exorcist. The film, titled Leap of Faith, screened at Sundance 2020 and included SCAD students as crew members.

March / April 2020



ASIFA-South gathers for monthly mixer



he Atlanta chapter of the International A n i m a te d F i l m S o ci e t y ( A S I FA SOUTH) hosted animation enthusiasts and professionals who gathered to listen to featured guest, Mark Simon. Simon has over thirty years of experience in the entertainment industry as a story artist and director for live action and animation. His recent credits include The Walking Dead, Black Lightning, Doom Patrol and Woody Woodpecker. Simon is known as the godfather of storyboarding and is the 28

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

owner of Storyboards & Animatics, Inc. He won an Emmy in 2012 for his work on the Storyboard Pro software and is the author of eleven books, including Producing Independent 2D Character Animation and Storyboards: Motion In Art. “Part of ASIFA-SOUTH’s mission is to bring together a tighter community of creatives in the animation field,” said the chapter’s executive director, Ginger Tontaveetong. “Our goal is to create a welcoming space for animators and those

in related creative fields, incoming talent new to Georgia, visiting artists, eager early career animation students and those that are interested in what animation is about to connect with each other. We also want a space where these folks are able to interact with studio professionals in a relaxed and casual setting that allows for deeper connection of the animation ecosystem in Georgia as a whole.”



omedy Dynamics, the largest independent comedy production and distribution company, has acquired Eddie Pence (Un)Special and will release it through the Comedy Dynamics network. Comedy Dynamics hybrid distribution system consists of Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Dish, DirecTV, Spectrum, Google Play and more. The special was produced by Georgia-based production company, Hooty Hoo Productions, which primarily focuses on unscripted content. The special is shot in Washington D.C., Pence’s hometown. It showcases the irreverent styling of the stand-up and podcast host. Topics include Star Wars, killer chihuahuas, streaking and Pence’s unique take on parenting. It is the comedian’s first taped hour-long special. Pence is known through his podcast work, including The Ralph Report and Swings & Mrs., which is co-hosted by Comedy (Un) Special guest, Jennifer Sterger. Pence has also appeared on late night television, including a set on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. His fans, lovingly dubbed the “Eddiots,” actively campaigned for the special on social media and helped him raise funds to film it. “ W hat reall y made t hi s come d y special actually special was the entire


Eddie Pence

project was crowd funded by my fans and shot in my hometown; those two things meant the world to me,” said Pence. “I’m beyond excited to work hand-in-hand with Comedy Dynamics to get this lifelong project out into the world so everyone can see something truly (un)special.” “Eddie is an awesome comic with a passionate fan base, and that’s typically a recipe for success,” stated CEO and

founder of Comedy Dynamics, Bryan VolkWeiss. “This is a great opportunity for the company to be involved with Comedy Dynamics,” said Hooty Hoo Productions co-founder, Dustin Jacobs. “I look forward to future collaborations and I’m extremely happy with how everything turned out for both us and especially Eddie Pence.”

Beneath Us


ewly minted Georgia-based feature film distributor, Vital Pictures, is releasing its first feature film, Beneath Us, in March. The film is a suspenseful, socially relevant horror story from first time feature director, Max Pachman. The timely and entertaining film will open exclusively in theatres throughout major US markets. Vital Pictures is a Georgia LLC established in 2019. Beneath Us is a tale about when the American dream becomes a nightmare for a group of undocumented day laborers who are hired by a wealthy couple. The laborers hope that this job will lead to their biggest payday yet, but the film spirals out of control when the wealthy employers turn on them and force them into survival mode.

March / April 2020


OzCetera Ryan Lambert of Channel Obscura at Videodrome



hannel Obscura is an Atlanta-based film curation and recommendation platform designed to cut through the noise of the modern media landscape by encouraging thought ful v iewing experiences in lieu of binge-watching. Subscribers to the free ser vice can expect a fresh edition of The Watchlist, a newsletter debuting two new movie reviews every weekend. Each newsletter is penned by local Atlanta filmmaker and movie critic, Ryan Lambert.

Channel Obscura is supported by Videodrome, Atlanta’s long-standing last (and best) video rental store. Many of the recommended titles are available at their location in the Poncey Highland area. If you are more inclined to stay indoors and rent a movie online, each post also includes a link to legal resources for finding a title to feast your eyes on. Whether popping a physical disc into your DVD player or streaming a flick that’s a little outside of your comfort zone, Channel Obscura

promotes effor ts to stop piracy from hurting small, independent artists and content creators. “ We're excited to hos t public screenings and explore other community event s and par tner s in the coming months,” said Lambert. Film fans and entertainment enthusiasts of all stripes can read past reviews and subscribe to receive future newsletters on the Channel Obscura website. Linda Ann Watt



t l a n t a - b a s e d a c t i n g i n s t r u c to r, Linda Ann Watt, will be teaching an on-camera master class on acting and scene study at the Village Theatre near downtown Atlanta. The weekly 5-hour course will provide acting students with the fundamentals in acting for both film and stage. Students will also learn improvisation, on-camera auditioning, how to act using a teleprompter and in-depth scene study. The class also covers the business of acting, e.g. the culture of the industry in America’s major production hubs: Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. “This class prepares the actor for 30

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

the professional world,” said Watt. “The industry is small and an actor needs to be ready to audition.” Watt is a member of Screen Ac tors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and a past member of Actors Equity Association (AEA). She

holds a Master’s of Fine Arts in theatre performance pedagogy and is an acting instructor at Georgia State University’s film, media and theatre department. In 2015, Watt was nominated for a Tony Award for excellence in theatre education.

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March / April 2020





tlanta-based documentarian, Ethan Payne, recently had his latest film, Lou, selected for screening at the Oxford Film Festival in Oxford, Mississippi. The documentary short follows Louisiana Pettway Bendolph and her craft of quilt making, which has been passed down to her through generations in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Bendolph and other Gee’s Bend quilt makers are the descendents of former slaves; they have been passing down the craft of quilt making to future generations and hold the torch their ancestors carried in the early 20th century.

In the film, Bendolph delves into how and when Gee’s Bend quilt makers were discovered by the Arnett Family in the late 1990s. The Arnetts were a driving force behind the Gee’s Bend quilts becoming major contributions to museums all over the nation. “It was incredible to be invited into this space of genius, to witness these women creating works of art with their hands that weren’t always considered to be works of art,” said Payne. “For generations, they made these quilts for practical purposes and it wasn’t until the late ‘90s that they


“ VO Atlanta is about the people who work in the voiceover community,” said VoicoverCity’s president and the conference’s executive producer, Gerald Griffith. “We strive to provide something for every attendee, whether they’re a seasoned professional or just getting started. We offer more than 100 learning opportunities in addition to more than 70 workshops spanning four days, so every attendee is able to customize a program that works for them.” VO A t l a n t a i s u n i q u e i n t h a t i t continues to expand the opportunities for focused learning through the expansion of its Spanish language programming and the addition of an Audiobook Academy presented by ACX (Audible), which is focused on audiobook narrators who have narrated fewer than fifty titles.


n late March, VoiceoverCity, LLC will host its 8th annual four-day voiceover conference at t he H ilton At lant a Airport Hotel. The conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to join expert sessions and network with fellow voiceover professionals from around the world. The mission of VO Atlanta is to provide an opportunity for voiceover talent, agents, casting directors, producers and industry resource providers to come together each year. Going into its 8th year, the conference attracts more than 900 attendees from more than twenty countries and forty states within the US 32

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

were discovered by the Arnett family (Matt Arnett is a producer on the film) and introduced to museums all over the world. These women didn’t study art history, they didn’t study Picasso or Warhol, and yet they created and continue to create incredible works of contemporary art.” Payne is eager to continue telling s tories about the forgot ten, tossed away South. His f irst feature length documentary, The Green Flash, is currently in post production.

VoiceoverCity, LLC president and Voiceover Atlanta's executive producer, Gerald Griffith

Asad Farooqui



tlanta Film Society (ATLFS) held a class on screenwriting in February titled, “Screenwriting 101: Diverse Stories and Classes.” The course was hosted by Asad Farooqui, a Georgia native who earned his Master’s degree in screenwriting and direc ting from Columbia University in New York City. In 2019, Farooqui moved back to Atlanta and has been making his mark on the local industry, beginning with a first place win at the Atlanta Film Festival’s (ATLFF) screenplay competition. “Having won the feature screenplay contest at the ATLFF last year with my script The Immigration Game, I got to know some of the people relatively well at the Atlanta Film Society,” said Farooqui. “I thought it was very important, especially since we are in a melting pot like Atlanta, to have a screenwriting course for women and people of color. I pitched the class to Justice Obaiya and ATLFS was interested in trying it out.” The course was composed of seventeen writers from dif ferent backgrounds and offered an introduction to the process of script writing. Some students were familiar with screenwriting prior to taking the course, while others had never tried their hand at it until Farooqui’s workshop. “What I realized from taking the class is that I just want to see something dif ferent from movies, delivered by


different kinds of people,” said one of the participating students, Stacey Jones. “I loved the stories that were presented in the class, but what I loved more was the diversity of voices; so thoughtful and interesting. I was really happy to see the enthusiasm for film writing at a time when it will be possible for these diverse creatives to have a real shot at a career in the industry. The way Asad shared his knowledge with the class was so genuine and open; that felt different too.” “ While at Columbia Universit y, I facilitated a similar class for Filmmakers of Color United in Spirit (FOCUS) and figured the round the table, workshop format would make for a wonderful setting for newer and up and coming screenwriters,” Farooqui added. The class af forded writers the opportunity to learn about various aspects of screenwriting, while also encouraging attendees to pen stories that have impacted their lives. Students were taught the importance of character development, how to write a logline and what makes for sharp dialogue, among many other things. When asked what advice he would give to new screenwriters, Farooqui said, “Keep writing. Writing truly is rewriting and rewriting . . . and rewriting. At times [it’s] painful and horrid, but also necessary to remain focused and hungry to dig out more and more facts about your character

and story.” On the subject of breaking into Atlanta’s burgeoning film industry, he added, “I would suggest applying to film festivals in Georgia and really taking advantage of the resources that are available here. As I mentioned in class, Film Impact Georgia offers a wonderful incentive for new writers and directors.” Some may feel that the sheer number of competition within the screenwriting world is daunting; however, Farooqui’s class taught writers to understand the value of their own personal stories. “At first, as the oldest person in the class, it felt like I should move over and let these younger people tell their stories,” said Jones, who just celebrated her 60th birthday in January. “But I realized that I added diversity too.” Farooqui urged the class to write what they know. “There truly are enough stories inside of you from childhood, adulthood, and ‘in the middle hood.’ So there’s no point in attempting to come up with what works in the industry and what doesn’t,” he said. “Voice driven stories usually tend to work not because of a writer’s greatness, but because of a writer’s honesty.” Farooqui’s prize-winning script, The Immigration Game, is slated to shoot later this year with Atlanta producer, Melodie Sisk.

March / April 2020


OzCetera Thick Skin



eorgia-based filmmaker, Robinson V i l , p re m i e re d h i s s i x- e p i s o d e web series, Thick Skin, at Atlanta’s Midtown Art Cinema in February. The drama is set in modern day Atlanta. It stars Kiah Clingman as Olivia, the protagonist of the series, and Mike Defoor as Olivia’s psychiatrist. Thick Skin was originally written as a short film and later developed into a multi-season series. It follows Olivia, a young woman struggling to chronicle her traumatic past and present. “I’ve been making films in Atlanta for well over a decade and I’ve always been able to find great talents here who were not only passionate and dedicated to the craft, but hungry to shoot,” said Vil when asked why he chose to proceed with an entirely Atlanta-based cast. “We want people to know that there are still great independent filmmakers that continue to stride in Atlanta.” “I can’t see myself doing anything else,” added Vil. “The grind continues.” Season two of Thick Skin is set to be released in the Spring of 2020 on multiple digital streaming platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Prime, AfroLandTV and more. Vil is in the process of shooting season three with the goal of attracting network affiliation.



ut On Film, Atlanta’s LGBTQ film festival, has been approved by the Academy of Motion Pic ture Ar ts and Sciences as an Academy Award qualifying film festival. Short films that win the festival’s best drama short award will


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

now be eligible to enter the Academy’s live action short film competition for the concurrent season. Out On Film is one of three Atlanta film festivals to be Oscar qualifying, joining the Atlanta Film Festival and Bronzelens Film Festival. “We are honored and ecstatic to have the Academy recognize us as a qualifying festival,” said Jim Farmer, festival and executive director of Out On Film. “For the past 32 years, we’ve produced Out On Film with the primary goal of providing a safe and welcoming environment where filmmakers can share their LGBTQ-themed stories with our community and allies.”

Jim Farmer

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By: B. Sonenreich


art of Georgia’s appeal to incoming productions is the state’s geographic malleability. One day, downtown Atlanta can be dressed to mirror the bustling streets of Manhattan, and the next day Tybee Island can mimic the shores of

sunny South Florida. The beauty about this burgeoning production hub is its inability to be visually stereotyped on the silver screen or television set. Similarly elasticity is a quality a Georgia production company can proudly relate to. “Our

brand has been defined by the fact that we aren’t definable,” explained Scott Thigpen, chief operating officer of Crazy Legs Productions.

March / April 2020


Crazy Legs is located snug in the Westside of Atlanta, near Georgia Tech. Past their front desk is a wall full of framed logos from Crazy Legs’ past and current television series, from true crime shows like Your Worst Nightmare and Swamp Murders, to reality television like Family by the Ton and The Prancing Elites Project. The company, though, is a producer of more than just reality and true crime television; Crazy Legs also creates home-grown sports documentaryseries, feature films, feature length documentaries and branded content. Today, productions flood into Georgia to take advantage of the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act. However, in 2006 Tom Cappello, founder and chief executive officer of Crazy Legs Productions, opened up the company’s doors with his wife, Allison Troxell. “I had zero hunch,” said Cappello when asked about how ahead of the game he and Troxell were, opening up the production company prior to Georgia’s film and television industries generating $9.5 billion, mostly from taking advantage of the 2008 investment act. “I wanted to be in Atlanta. I’ve always believed in the talent here. There was great talent here before the tax incentives; it’s just that people didn’t see the potential,” said Cappello. “If I had any hunch, it was that there were great people here and we could make something unique and special.” While Cappello was the one who knew he could tap into the talent in Atlanta, Thigpen had an early, personal experience distinguishing himself as someone who is as unique as the city he grew up in. “When I went to Georgia State, [film] was a fairly new program. This was in the ‘80s, and I looked around the class one day and I thought, ‘Okay, I have two years to go before graduating. There are 30 other

people in here. What can I do to go ahead and separate myself from the pack?’ So I cracked open the phone book and I called every production company in the Atlanta metropolitan area.”


“I always try to tell people, ‘This is an industry where that piece of paper you get when you graduate doesn’t have the same meaning as it does if you’re becoming a doctor or a lawyer,” explained Thigpen. Thigpen cut his teeth on filmmaking during his time at Georgia State University’s undergraduate film program. Soon after he dissected the phone book, he was finally offered his first media gig working for Innovative Productions, Inc. The company produced non-traditional ball and stick sports packages that bigger networks didn’t want to be bothered with. “We did off-shore powerboat racing, world triathlon championships, snow skiing championships,

all kinds of things. ESPN and others would basically subcontract us to do these events.” Fast forward to 2006: Cappello and Thigpen met to discuss what would become their first joint filmmaking project. “We talked about making a film about the women’s empowerment movement to solve global poverty,” said Thigpen. The film was called A Powerful Noise and it premiered in Tribeca in 2008. The documentary was followed by a theatrical release through Fathom Events. “We showed the film in 400 theatres across the country via satellite, and everybody in those theatres watched an event at the Danny Kaye Theatre in New York, hosted by Ann Curry,” said Cappello. From the very start of their partnership, the two had a hope to connect people through the art of storytelling. “When we saw the success of [A Powerful Noise], it inspired me to bring Scott onto the team to do more.” The two sat down a number of years ago to come up with their mission statement. “It really just boiled down to the simple thought: connecting people through stories,” added Thigpen. When asked if either of them feel an affinity towards producing sports content over their unscripted reality series, Thigpen was quick to decline the idea. “We’ve done sports, lifestyle, docu-series, crime; we really have been able to be malleable and move in and out of different genres.” For Crazy Legs, it doesn’t matter the genre; if they can tell a great story, they will make it happen. The name Crazy Legs stems from a cherished Cappello family member: Tom Cappello’s grandfather. Grandfather Cappello would rise from his seat at family reunions and

BTS still A Season With Florida State Football


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

gatherings and shout, “I’ve got crazy legs!” which was immediately followed by a spontaneous dance. The company shares this same uncontrollable urge in telling stories as grandfather Cappello had to wildly move his legs. No doubt, both the company and Cappello’s grandfather knew how to spread joy through the vehicle of entertainment. What makes Crazy Legs stand out more than its name is the fact that it prides itself on being a storytelling production company. At Crazy Legs they control the entire lifecycle of the film, from optioning script ideas to directing their routes in distribution. Over a decade ago, there weren’t many production companies based in Atlanta, nor Georgia as a whole. “It was harder to get people to move here, especially if it was a contractor and you just had them on a temporary assignment for a season of a show,” explained Cappello. These contractors would wonder, “When I’m done with this, what other companies in the Atlanta area will hire me?” Now, more and more, there are other production companies establishing themselves here or relocating here based on superior and enticing tax credits. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities to work here. “There are other companies that we could view as competitors in one sense, but we talk amongst each other all the time. We want to see the other companies grow and do well,” said Cappello. “The more they grow and lure people here, the more it helps everybody . . . We’re also supportive of other companies like Crazy Legs in this area, because a rising tide lifts all ships . . . We’re still a growing entertainment community here, unlike New York or

Los Angeles, which you wouldn’t say are growing; they’re established. We’re still the up-and-comers trying to prove ourselves and we all need each other to do that.” For Cappello, Atlanta has always been a nurturing environment for his dreams in film and television. He worked at Turner Broadcasting for a decade before following his heart. “I was sitting in my director’s cubicle and I looked outside of it and saw my soul walking out the door, and I decided to go with it,” laughed Cappello. “Because I wasn’t creating content!” He went on to tell Oz that every extraordinary opportunity he had came from being right here, in Atlanta. “First, it was at Turner; then it was on the History Channel series; then it was a feature documentary film.” Cappello and Thigpen’s hearts are clearly invested in collaboration, helping people and championing even the success of those who might be labeled as their competitors. “We’re not going to make every show out there,” added Cappello. “I want everybody to be successful.” His beliefs lie within the Crazy Legs team and other collaborators. “They’re the heroes; they’re the ones that are able to roll up their sleeves and get this done,” praised Cappello. “It all comes from a common perspective.” The company’s very first employee and intern still work at Crazy Legs today, a testament to the positive work culture and the types of storytelling they produce. “A third of our full time employees started as interns,” said Thigpen. “That’s a statistic we’re very proud of.” The Crazy Legs approach is

intended to spark a sense of understanding in their viewers for the eclectic lives they follow on set. “We always approach our characters with empathy,” said Cappello. Take the Andersons for example, a family who weigh in at over 3000 lbs between the six of them. In Family by the Ton, an ongoing reality series Crazy Legs produces and distributes through The Learning Channel (TLC), the Andersons’ stories aren’t exploited or mocked. The Crazy Legs team does its due diligence to humanize these folks who some might shake their head at or, even worse, laugh at. “I don’t think reality TV is bad,” stated Cappello. “I just think it’s gotten a reputation of being salacious.” The Andersons are described by Crazy Legs as having debilitating food addictions and the company makes sure to paint a broader stroke that accounts for both hilarious and desperate times within this family unit. In one episode, a viewer can laugh, cry and feel frustration; however, viewers are laughing and crying with the characters and they feel frustrated on their behalf. “Everything has a purpose,” said Thigpen. “It’s not just a cooking show, or a sports show, or a show about obese people. There’s a higher purpose to all of [our shows].” “I think we see ourselves as a documentary company,” explained Cappello. “Even though the networks we’re on may be labeled as reality TV networks, we see the content we’re delivering really humanizing our characters.” Cappello and Thigpen often shine a light on disenfranchisement,

On set of Dead Silent

March / April 2020


1,000 lb. Sisters

marginalization, poverty and LGBTQ issues. “We dealt with some serious topics while you laughed the entire time. You have fun watching their journey.” “We definitely love good documentary storytelling: real people,” added Thigpen. “I don’t know that either of us thought, ‘Well, let’s start doing reality television,’ because our chops are steeped in documentary roots. And I think we’ve been able to do reality television in a way that’s more than reality television.” The success of hit shows like 1,000-LB Sisters, The Graduates ATL, Track Rats and more, is directly attributed to the Crazy Legs team as a whole. “Our success is because of our employees, not because of Scott and me,” stated Cappello. If the growing tax credit has done anything, it’s brought in more creatives and encouraged locals to collaborate and create unique television series and films. “You take away the tax credit and you really dwindle the pool of people that can create great things

here.” If Cappello had any hunch, it was his belief in the untapped potential that was already here in Georgia. “The tax credits have been an amazing fuel for growth,” said Cappello. “When we hear stories about taking the tax credits away, I think that is short sighted and maybe not looking at homegrown companies like ourselves that count on the tax credits to really fuel our growth.” Cappello hopes that the politically motivated language around the tax credit starts to look at local, homegrown stories like themselves. “I think that’s the real success of the tax credit,” stated Cappello. “I’m a native Atlantan, so it makes me happy to hear from people who moved here from LA and are actually loving living in Georgia,” said Thigpen. “They’re able to make their living here, afford to buy a house here and send their kids to quality schools in Georgia; things they would not have been able to do in LA. That’s great stuff.” If there is a point where Georgia has a debate over the merits of filming tax credits, these are the stories Thigpen wants elucidated. “I think sometimes the lens that some people look through is: the studios come here, get a tax credit and leave. But there’s plenty of companies like Crazy Legs where, because of the tax credits, there’s more opportunities here. We’re able to hire more people. They are able to buy homes, pay property taxes, pay sales taxes when they shop everywhere. It’s real money that is going back into the community; it’s not just on a plane going back to LA.”

“The heavy lifting is here,” stated Thigpen. “The bulk of everything is done here, and we’re building a writers’ room here and trying to continue to build an infrastructure here.” Like their growing roots, Crazy Legs future goals go a number of different ways. They recently opened up a feature film division, a possible vehicle for telling Georgialensed stories. “We are trying to look for more and more content or scripts or IP that is created and written in Georgia,” added Thigpen. “I think most people that get into this industry probably get into it because they grew up really being influenced by or having a big interest in telling stories, and many times primarily telling stories on film or television. It’s a natural evolution for our company” said Thigpen when asked what made Crazy Legs broaden their horizons to a feature film division. “Every time we shoot these episodes, we’re kind of making a little mini feature anyway, and if you look at the quality of cinematography, the acting and the composition, it holds up to any independent film at least. So, it was just the natural progression for us to start to do that. We wanted to add that layer on top of the episodic work.” For Crazy Legs, the next logical layer after creating more feature films is creating more scripted episodic series. “We’re able to go out and do more than just non-fiction episodic series,” noted Thigpen, regarding the flexibility of the Crazy Legs team. Cappello is aware

The Crazy Legs team


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that there is a big difference between unscripted and scripted content. While the Crazy Legs team are mostly story producer driven and editor driven, Cappello believes the team is ready to branch out to scripted content. “We were able to create a film that took women from Vietnam, Bosnia and Mali, and connected them to people across the United States in a one-night only event,” said Cappello about Thigpen and his joint efforts on A Powerful Noise. “That’s why Crazy Legs came into existence and, what we try to do now, which is to find stories, find characters, humanize them in a way that makes them three-dimensional and tells, not only entertaining stories, but stories that impact lives, or transform lives or make a difference in people’s lives. If you look at anything we’ve done from lifestyle to docu-series to crime, that’s the common thread for us.”

1,000 lb. Sisters


- Tom Cappello

The Prancing Elites Project

“We purchased a schoolhouse in Chosewood Park a year and a half ago,” revealed Thigpen. “Our hope is to develop that into our permanent home that we own. That speaks to us planting firm roots in Georgia and making sure that the talent pool we hire is either from here or is willing to be here.” In the present day and the near future, Crazy Legs is actively nurturing their roots in the Peach State, creating jobs and producing entertaining, and meaningful, content that Georgia residents of all ages can appreciate.

March / April 2020










ver the last 20 years, advances in camera technology have been the great enabler. Digital cinematography has democratized filmmaking lowering the bar to entry for new shooters, leveling the playing field for everyone in the industry and enhancing the capabilities of veteran directors of photography (DPs). 42

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

As camera technology continues to evolve cinematographers remind us that it’s not the end-all-and-be-all to their craft. “Technology won’t lead you to greatness. You have to be able to use technology as a tool to get there,” said Atlanta-based cinematographer, Frederick Taylor. “Technology should always be in the service of the story,”

notes Hilda Mercado, of the Mexican Society of Cinematographers (AMC). “It doesn’t matter if you have all the latest technology in the world if people don’t connect with the story.” William Wages, of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) agrees. “We have to keep up with the technology, but it’s what’s in front of the camera that

IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU HAVE ALL THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY IN THE WORLD IF PEOPLE DON’T CONNECT WITH THE STORY. matters. I’ve spent my career eliminating the toys and making it about what’s in front of the camera and not behind it.” Six cinematographers shared their views on camera technology and mused about what’s coming next.

WILLIAM WAGES Recent credits: Yellowstone (Paramount Network); Lethal Weapon (Fox); The Forgiven (feature film); Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC); Sun Records (CMT). William Wages began his career shooting commercials and documentaries all over the world. Then he moved into mini-series, TV movies and features, including Iron Will and Maya Angelou's Down In The Delta. His television credits include three seasons of Burn Notice and the Spielberg-produced mini-series Into The West. Born and raised in Atlanta, Wages has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, eight ASC awards (winning two) and has been honored with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in Television. He has developed a number of industry tools, including the Tiffen Glimmerglass diffusion filter and two flagging devices affectionately named WagFlags and WagBags by his crew. What is your current camera of choice and why? WW: It’s phenomenal what’s available to us today; there are so many great cameras to choose from. I personally prefer the Panasonic VariCam 35. I became an early adopter when I tested the prototype, and it blew my socks off with its dynamic range. My testing showed 15.5 stops, maybe even a little more.

What advantages does it offer you? WW: The VariCam has dual ISO 800 and 5000 with no significant quality shift, which is a game changer. It allows shooting at very low light levels. I’ve done day scenes in light so dim you cannot read a script yet on the monitor it looks full daylight. The dynamic range of the VariCam combined with the dual ISO has cut my lighting package in half. This allows us to focus on making the movie and not on the hardware. Do you ever shoot film? WW: Not since Burn Notice. There’s no need to, and I don’t miss it. Film was wonderful, but with it the interesting work is on the razor’s edge of what the emulsion is capable of. Therefore, you didn’t know until you saw the dailies if you got it right. With digital you see the image on the monitor and know in real time if you have the shot. How has camera technology changed your role in post production? WW: The great photographer Ansel Adams said, “The negative is the score, the print is the performance.” Everything I do can be destroyed or enhanced by color timing. It’s in my contract that I get to control the color timing. Power Windows are wonderful tools that have changed everything. Now you can use multiple Power Windows and track with them. These are techniques I use every day. What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term?

WW: In my opinion, we are in for a huge paradigm shift. Big cameras are going away. The new Sigma fp camera is essentially the size of a pack of cigarettes with a lens attached. It doesn’t equal the big cameras, but it is close. Panasonic’s S1H full-frame is 6K and looks like a DSLR still camera, but its electronics are designed for filmmaking. It virtually matches the performance of the VariCam. What’s on your wish list for camera technology? WW: I don’t really have a wish list. My attitude is “the best camera is the one you have.” I’m more of an in-the-moment kind of guy. Put your creative efforts into adapting to what you have then tell the story.

SAMUEL LAUBSCHER Recent credits: Return to Roanoke: Search for the Seven (History Channel); Dead Silent (Investigation Discovery, Season 3); Two Roads (PlayStation Network, Season 1); The Instrument (mini-series, Nung River Productions). Growing up in Southern California, Samuel Laubscher was interested in photography and motion pictures from an early age. Now, based in Atlanta, Laubscher has been working in narrative and commercial cinematography, as well as portrait and documentary photography since 2010 using digital cameras as well as 35mm and 16mm motion cameras. What is your current camera of choice and why? SL: If I have the option and the budget

March / April 2020


I will always choose 35mm film and particularly the ARRI 235. It’s lightweight, and I work a lot with natural light and find 35mm really captures the intricacies of environmental light best. On the digital side I use the ARRI ALEXA Mini. I really appreciate how its colors are a bit more subdued and naturalistic. Nothing gets overexposed too quickly in the highlights. And you can underexpose without it getting too noisy. What advantages do they offer you? SL: Advantage to film are its color rendition, especially human skin tones, and a grain texture and quality that are very three dimensional. Celluloid puts its own charm into an image, and I like that.

Alternatively, with digital capture I’m able to see exactly what I get when I get it. It’s cheaper to shoot, and the image is so clean. Digital also works well in low light conditions . . . you can shoot in near darkness nowadays. When do you choose to shoot film? SL: Narrative independent projects looking for a different quality are more open to film and its expressive look. A lot of commercial cinematographers work with 16mm, and I think that’s having a comeback stylistically. The actual weight of a film camera and its magazines is a challenge because we’ve all become used to smaller and lighter digital cameras. It’s also harder to find ACs and others skilled with working with film. On the other hand, Kodak Atlanta is really friendly and supportive in processing film and giving you a digital transfer for post. I love the feeling of a film set; all the crew and actors know the significance of shooting film and everyone dials into it. The actors try to nail their performance on the first take. How has camera technology changed your role in post production? SL: Most recently HDR workflows have been growing. The standard digital workflow has changed a bit with these different color spaces. I really enjoy being involved in post. It’s a whole other creative step that didn’t used to be there. I like putting the finishing touch on things with the colorist; I’m glad to have the opportunity to help the colorist make some bigger decisions about what the final image should look like. What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term? SL: I’m interested in the virtual production side of things. I was recently shooting all-digital plates for animators to put characters into for a commercial. The animator on set was taking 360° photos and diagramming and building my lighting scheme in his software. I’d love the chance to work on something crafted live in the Unreal Engine, the chance to do virtual cinematography. The technology is there waiting to be applied. I think the


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

gaming world and film production world might merge. What’s on your wish list for camera technology? SL: Completely weather-resistant cameras and accessories. That may be a pipe dream, but I would love to be able to shoot in full rain without all the tenting/covers. I’d also like to see battery technology advances where cold temperatures don't affect the life of batteries as greatly. I am enjoying how camera systems are getting smaller and lighter, the less intrusion on set for me the better!

FREDERICK TAYLOR Recent credits: Transmission.Love (documentary); The King Center (awareness campaign with Bernice King); Thee Holy Brothers (music video for My Name is Sparkle); American_Asian (documentary); Rotary International (polio eradication campaign). Frederick Taylor got his film education at Temple University and earned a graduate degree in communications from Georgia State University. While teaching, he took a leap into shooting hip-hop videos for Russell Simmons and Outkast. He founded Tomorrow Pictures to create content for TV, corporate clients and the internet and to take on passion projects such as documentaries, social justice videos and non-profit projects. Taylor’s award-winning work takes him around the world and has been shown at film festivals and on PBS. What is your current camera of choice and why? FT: The Sony FS7 for run-n-gun, downand-dirty cinematography. It has a lot of latitude and is so fast in low-light situations. Sometimes I deliberately dirty up images; if you have very powerful subject matter you don’t want to distract with pretty images. What advantages does it offer you? FT: The FS7 marries well with higherend lenses; I enjoy using old film lenses on it; they’re dirtier, and I get more of a cinematic feel. Sony lenses have become too clean and vivid for me. I can take the

FS7, buy a crappy lens, throw a yellow filter on it and get some of the most interesting, intense black and white images that look like they’re from the 1950s. Do you ever shoot film? FT: I love film; I started out with it, but the challenge and cost of getting it developed and transferred has chased me away. If a project had enough money I’d be back shooting film. Or if someone were doing a period film I’d try to make film work for the budget. Everything you remember watching that warmed your heart was shot on film. Today, we’re constantly fiddling with the technology to move people the same way film did. How has camera technology changed your role in post production? FT: My relationship with post is pushpull. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I

hate its guts. Sometimes I want to clean things up, sometimes I’ve got it here and now, with no color correction needed, I got exactly what I want through the lens. Post production can be like Door #1 or Door #2. Behind Door #1 you use technology as a crutch with LUTs and plug-ins to make things easier for yourself, to create the illusion of perfection through ease. Behind Door #2 you’re in control of the technology to capture or harness the images of the past (like Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean) using old film filters and midcentury Panavision lenses to get a better result than if you dialed it in [during] post. What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term? FT: I expect to see some good and some bad. The reach of tech is a great new inroad. Technology will continue to be more and more accessible to the masses. Developing countries will close the gap between themselves and first world nations in cinema; I can’t wait until The Oscars go to Nigeria for cinematography and editing. Technology will continue to lead the way for women creating more opportunities for them in leadership positions in the industry. The bad is that tech will continue to be a crutch for the filmmaker who suffers from storytelling and confidence issues. I believe tech can create artist mind-blocks that prohibit true storytelling; too many choices stifle creativity. It’s like painting a picture: pick a few colors and start to paint. Don’t waste all your time mixing. Tech also creates a disposition for replicating other people’s works instead of finding your own voice. Some of the best work I have ever created was done in low-tech environments. What’s on your wish list for camera technology? FT: Filtration that’s built into the camera to assist you when you want to soften an image and get a more filmic look and feel. And lenses with glass ground the way it was 50 or more years ago, not

with the machine technology of today. I’d like more options than neutral density for filtration on the back of the lens; for gauze effects, opal, frost or like the 85 series. Audio technology on cameras is spectacular these days; it’s unfortunate that more people don’t use it. I’d love to have 4-channel audio instead of just 2-channel.

HILDA MERCADO Recent credits: The Resident (Fox, episodes 214 and 215); 108 Costuras and 108 Stitches (feature films); MasterClass (online series); Hidden Heroes (documentary); Dead Silent (Investigation Discovery, Season 2). Hilda Mercado earned an MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and is a member of the Mexican Society of Cinematographers (AMC). She won a student Emmy Award for the short film, A Piece of Earth, and has won numerous other awards at international competitions. Mercado is currently based in Atlanta and travels around the world working on a wide range of projects. What is your current camera of choice and why? HM: I like to use the ARRI cameras, in particular the Amira and ALEXA Mini; they are ergonomic documentary-style cameras. Lately I am leaning towards the Mini as my preferred camera. The Mini is compact, and the sensor is great: I like the way it captures images and the way it looks. What advantages does it offer you? HM: With the Mini I can go from studio mode to handheld very quickly. I like the camera workflow, the way it reproduces color, how it captures skin tones and its latitude between highlights and lowlights. The menu is very intuitive; it’s easy to find what you need. The Mini has a very particular style, a softer image. You can manipulate it with look-up tables (LUT), but it has a nice, softer image to start with that benefits skin tones. Do you ever shoot film? HM: Sadly, no, not for a long time; maybe

March / April 2020



Hilda Mercado on set

eight years. I do miss it. Something comes with film that has to do with the discipline of working with film, the fact that you can’t just let the camera run for 10 minutes, you have to be more clear about what you shoot. You need more precision and attention to detail. You need to know how to light film, how to expose it and how that will translate to the final print. How has camera technology changed your role in post production? HM: During prep I create a LUT that I will give post production, in particular the colorist, as a base palette; a look that should get them very close to the final look before starting the final color correction. I can show the producers and director, with the first dailies, where we will be later. Before a feature I usually sit with the post producer to check the deliverables of the project, the workflow, and if we have any digital visual effects, how to capture what visual effects (VFX) needs so they don’t have any problems. I always try to be involved with all aspects of post and color correction: for features that’s considered to be part of my job. For documentaries sometimes we don’t get to be there because of budget constraints; for TV I’m there with the colorist for the last pass of color, I get to adjust the final details. The only time I don’t have so much say in post is for commercials, because the timeline is so fast. But I give color references and notes to the colorist so they’re always in the range of what I shot.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term? HM: Cameras are getting smaller and lighter, which isn’t always a good thing. I don’t want a smaller camera for my handheld work, and a lighter and smaller Steadicam is not always best. I need a camera I can ergonomically put on my shoulder or [one that] is flexible to move from a dolly to a crane.

What’s on your wish list for camera technology? HM: More developments in LED lighting. I’d like to see smaller, more flexible units that use even less power and are bicolor going from daylight to tungsten on a switch. I love the DMX system; it saves so much time when you are shooting as you can make last minute adjustments in color and lighting output. As to the camera itself, I’d like to see more compact transmitters and more [outboard] devices, like motors for iris, zoom and focus that require a lot of cables and batteries, built into the camera. Panavision is starting to develop some lenses in collaboration with the RED cameras that have everything built in, so you need less cable. They’re easier to balance on gimbals and Steadicam systems; this presents a cleaner camera without all the cables and motors and transmitter boxes attached to the camera.

JAMES DAWKINS Recent credits: senior content producer for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. The career of cinematographer James Dawkins has always focused on sports. As a professional, he spent four-and-a-half years with the Miami Heat and three with the Houston Rockets before joining the Hawks 18 months ago. Dawkins shoots most home games, which he sends to Fox Sports Southeast, NBA Entertainment and ESPN for regional and national broadcast. He also travels to high-profile games and covers the NBA Draft and All Star Weekends. What is your current camera of choice and why? JD: I tried the Sony F55 as a test product when I was with the Heat and have been using it since I joined the Hawks. I love that it shoots 240fps with a Sony RAW recorder connected to the camera; such a fast frame rate! And it shoots 4K at 24-60fps with sound. I usually roll with a Rec. 709 LUT, which brings out a lot of saturation; I record in S-Log 3 so there are more color correction options in post production.

What advantages does it offer you?

JD: It’s nice to have custom control of the camera settings so I can choose the right options for the media outlets that will be using the footage. I normally shoot 240fps at 24p for ultimate slow-motion. While recording video with sound, I capture at True 4K/24p. Not many cameras shoot 240fps for playback at 24p with colors outside the lines. In summary, the F55 simply outperforms high-end mobile device cameras and prosumer devices that also capture 240 fps. It’s on par with other high-end cameras like ALEXA, RED and even the Phantom. The F55 is a big camera with the RAW recorder and battery attached, but it actually sits on my shoulder and there’s a beauty to its balance. I use a shoulder rig for shooting, even for promos, and rarely use a tripod. Do you ever shoot film? JD: No. How has camera technology changed your role in post production? JD: In my work for the Hawks I shoot, edit and do graphic design. The ability to shoot really high frame rates adapts well to my editing style, which features a lot of speed ramping. When done properly, speed ramping makes any spot or promo crisp and beautiful, a joy to watch. You can slow the moments you want to focus on: the dunk, the block, the steal, the celebration. You can live all those moments for 10 seconds. You’re able to tell a cleaner and clearer story. What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term? JD: In today’s world people want content quickly, so I’d be shocked if five years from now cameras were sold without streaming devices. Broadcast and leading NBA content teams already utilize this type of streaming technology with devices that are currently sold separately. What’s on your wish list for camera technology? JD: Number one on my wish list would be a streaming device locked into the camera. Hawks fans want to get into the

nitty-gritty of everything, and I’d love to provide them with content constantly: shoot, post and share from a professional camera. I’d also wish for a lens that could go from as wide as 11mm for beautiful close ups to 300mm to shoot detail all the way across the court. I’d love to be able to do that without a lens swap.


Recent credits: Underwater DP for The Walking Dead (TV Series); Endless Love (Film); Devious Maids (TV Series); camera operator for Zombieland (Film) & Stomp the Yard (Film).

What is your current camera of choice and why? MD: No one should have a personal

favorite because the technology has to match the creative. It’s always a little disturbing to hear people being very onesided about a camera. If I’m in a remote location where I need a lot of flexibility in a camera system I might choose one camera body, but if I’m in a studio setting with a lot of support I might choose a different one. There aren’t many options for a professional underwater cinematographer. Choice is sometimes dictated by the camera they’re using [topside]. But the three dominant cameras for underwater are the Sony Venice, RED Monstro and ARRI ALEXA Mini LF.

What advantages do they offer you? MD: These three cameras are technically

at the top of their game; from an image and reliability standpoint they are the industry’s Rolls-Royces. The RED and the Mini are physically right in the sweet spot. The Venice is a bigger system but also a great camera; you actually need some bulk in the water so you don’t transfer slight movement to the camera.

Do you ever shoot film? MD: Yes, more on land than underwater.

But film use is limited and tends to be for higher budget productions and as 2nd unit cinematography. I still like film, the process and the discipline film brings to a set; there’s an element and structure film brings that’s lost on a [digital] set. Historically, when I shoot film I’m using

an ARRICAM LT or ST or an ARRI 435.

How has camera technology changed your role in post production? MD: The role of the editor has changed

so much in the world of commercials, music videos and corporate. Their role has expanded to include color correction, graphics and sound. And the amount of media and data the editor is confronted with is staggering; it has affected the purity of storytelling. I almost never have control of color correction, whereas I always attended the telecine session in the film world. There’s an echelon of cinematographers who can command that control, but not at my level as a DP .

What developments do you expect to see in camera technology in the near term? MD: I think we’ll see a return to digital

Super 35 in a much greater way in 2020. With the advent of full-frame technology we lost control of our legacy lenses; we’ve lost the use of some beautiful glass. I think manufacturers will realize there’s still a huge market for digital Super 35 and will not abandon it.

What’s on your wish list for camera technology? MD: I’m surprised that at this day and

age I have to have a wish list! It’s kind of amazing, because my wish goes to the very core of the camera and how and why it’s built. We’ve conquered the beauty of the image: All manufacturers have image capture under control. The shocking disconnect is between the engineers and the people who actually put the camera on their shoulder, take it in the field and power it up. Cameras still tend to be cobbled together. There are numerous peripheral devices, and we struggle with brackets for them and power distribution to them. This creates a “he said-she said” blame factor in terms of device communication because manufacturers are not integrating these things. I’d like to see a complete camera system where the manufacturer takes ownership of all aspects of the system and responsibility for how it is managed.

March / April 2020




year-long battle over packaging fees between the Writers Guild of America (WGA East and WGA West) and the “Big Four'' Hollywood talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), United Talent Agency (UTA), and ICM Partners, heads to trial this Spring. However, content creators in Georgia continue to sit on the sidelines. “That's a Hollywood battle,” said local independent scriptwriter, AZ Yeamen, about the dueling lawsuits, the first of which was filed in California state court in April 2019 by the joint labor union. The union is claiming that the decades-long practices of packaging and engaging in affiliate productions show an unlawful conflict of interest. 48

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Before the first suit was filed, the WGA introduced a new code of conduct agreement calling for agencies to stop acting as producers and accepting packaging fees. Essentially, packaging fees are rewards from the studios for being handed full talent bundles, including writers, directors and actors, for a project, as opposed to collecting individual deal percentages. The Guild also ordered its members en masse to fire their agents, after which CAA, WME and UTA countered with their own suits alleging that such a move constitutes an antitrust bargaining action. Since there are so few Georgia writers with representation, the fight hasn’t been felt here. “That's definitely not an Atlanta battle,” Yeaman added.

The dispute’s direct impact on the Georgia film and television industry has been nonexistent, and that’s unfortunate given what some content creators and talent agents in Atlanta believe ought to happen. “I thought it was an opening,” said Yeamen, who is the founder of the Bridge 17 Scriptwriters’ Studio, a hub for networking and training for local writing talent. “To me, it seems like, okay, let’s open this up. Can we have an open agency here in Atlanta that would support us? The majors don’t. We don’t have a literary agency that’s recognized by the WGA here in Atlanta.” Yeamen doesn’t have a dog in the WGA vs. talent agencies fight, because she does not have agency representation nor a membership with the Writers’ Guild. Nevertheless, she hoped it would lead to more opportunities for fresh creative voices coming out of Atlanta. Although she’s managed to maintain a career as a writer for hire through hard work and connections, the route she’s taken in the business is difficult and rare. Through Bridge 17 she’s providing some support, but many of the writers she helps wind up moving to Los Angeles or New York to find work. Yeamen isn’t alone in having expected more of a trickle-down effect. Tiauna Jackson is the founder of The Jackson Agency, a WGA-franchised boutique based out of Los Angeles with an office in Atlanta that is now building a literary division. Jackson had hoped the dispute would create more opportunities for smaller companies like hers to gain higher-visibility talent. “But it was naive of me to think so,” she admitted. “I thought that when you had over 30 boutique agencies signing the WGA’s Code of Conduct there would be more migration.”

My platform is about serving the underserved, the underrepresented and the underestimated,” Tiauna Jackson of Jackson Agency The problem Jackson is seeing is that the bigger name writers in the industry don’t think highly of the smaller agencies, even when they are WGA-franchised companies agreeing with the demands to put their writers’ interests first and reject the practice of movie and television packaging. “Despite our willingness to serve. We’re just not good enough in the eyes of these people.” Some writers are avoiding representation altogether. When the WGA called for its members to fire their agents last year, many just worked directly with producers and studios. “The reason why they can do that is they already have connections that they got from the agents from their first job,” explained Yeamen. It’s not that different from how she’s gotten jobs over the years, through people she knows, plus having the talent. However, now more than ever, there’s an increasing absence of representation for writers altogether.

WRITERS HIRE WRITERS Gabrielle Fulton is another Georgia scriptwriter without an agent who has managed to have a career, including a staff writing position on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) series Ambitions. She believes the agencies signing the WGA’s code of conduct are looking for a chance to get writers higher up the chain, just as Jackson had hoped, but should focus their attention on the talent who are more in need of being signed for the first time. “There's a saying, and it's true: writers hire writers,” said Fulton. “If you have contacts and you have relationships, you can get opportunities. That's kind of what I'm a testament to. I've heard many writers tell me, ‘Oh, an agent didn't get me a job. I got my job.’ But you've got to have an agent, because having an agent just shows, more than anything, legitimacy. Being in the WGA is one level of

legitimacy, but having an agent is another thing entirely. The agents manage the process, and that process and negotiating legitimizes you as a writer. Could I get another job without an agent? Possibly. Is it more difficult, especially being in Atlanta? Absolutely.”

PACKAGING: POTENTIAL AND PITFALLS Fulton declined to comment on the issue of packaging since she’s had no experience with the practice. Jackson likens packaging to a more common convenience. “It's no different from paying the extra $50 to go ahead and have the Ikea furniture assembled and delivered for you rather than you having to assemble it,” she said, providing an understanding for why the studios have been happy to go along with packaging. “It is easier to sell something when it is already completely wrapped up in a bow.” The downside, Jackson pointed out, is that the practice doesn’t favor unknown talent. “You tend to see the same people working [together] within that structure because they have a great relationship,” Jackson observed. “It's easier to continue to work with people you have successfully worked with before and get along with and have done great things with than to continually bring in new people.” Writers and agents in Georgia would seem to benefit more from working together on other issues pertaining to local, marginalized talent than worrying about packaging. Jackson recognizes that she’s been successful because she’s been able to cultivate the careers of new artists. “My platform is about serving the underserved, the underrepresented and the underestimated,” said Jackson. “One of the main reasons I put my focus on Georgia was because, as a black woman, I want to make sure I'm serving my community.” March / April 2020


AZ Yeamen

'I'm surprised it's so well-written. Actually shocked.’ That's the sentiment about Atlanta [writers].” AZ Yeamen Jackson is now hoping to do the same from a literary perspective by expanding her Atlanta operations. Until now, writers in Georgia have had to deal with a lot of ignorance regarding their talent. Yeamen was once hired through a mutual contact to write a pilot for a Hollywood producer with low expectations of her work. “‘Do a contract with her for $1. There's no way you're going to get a well-written script from a writer who's done nothing.’ That was [the producer’s] response,” Yeamen recalled. Afterward, “She's like, ‘Oh, I'm surprised it's so well-written. Actually shocked.’ That's the sentiment about Atlanta [writers].” According to Jackson, the false reputation of Georgia writers producing content of lesser-quality may be due to the lack of resources in the state. “You have a lot of talented writers, but they may not have been afforded a screenwriting class,” she explained. “They may not have been afforded a program that teaches the business, how to properly package and develop and do what they need to do to get their work sold. When I receive submissions from writers who are not [based in] Los Angeles or New York, I really do see deficiencies in their presentations.” Jackson is interested in supporting new Georgia writers with promise and pointing them in the right direction so that they can actually succeed. That direction might still mostly be out of state, because presently there’s not enough work for writers here. “I have the ability to come in and work with local artists and take that work where it needs to be taken, whether it's LA or New York,” she said. “I'm willing to do that. Other agencies haven't been willing to do that.” 50

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Fortunately, when writers do prove their talent, they’re sometimes able to get local jobs through those mutual contacts who know their worth. For instance, Fulton became a staff writer on Ambitions by way of a theatre friend who knew her work as a playwright; she didn’t have to go anywhere. Still, those kinds of opportunities are few and far between. “It's not something that's happening here in Atlanta,” she confessed. “I'm still interested in opportunities elsewhere. I'm in a position to do that. I've got friends in New York and in LA and opportunities are much more available in those places, especially LA. I'm staying open, basically, right now.” Not everyone is in a position to go where the money is. Yeamen, for one, is not able to uproot her family and life in Georgia to relocate. That’s one thing that has kept her from finding an agent, despite her desire for representation. “It'd be great because I'd have more access,” she commented on the benefit of having an agent. “But if I have to up and move to LA anyway, that doesn't really help. So we do need funding here.” Fulton doesn’t see the dispute between the WGA and the talent agencies as a “war,” as it’s sometimes been labeled. “The terminology that's used in the media has worked against writers for the most part. I see it as a negotiation process,” she explained, noting that she sides with the guild, of which she’s a member. “They

have the best interests of writers at heart. I say that even knowing that it's made some challenges for lower-level writers, challenges for writers of color.” She recognizes that there are at least instances in which upper-level writers have looked out for those marginalized writers. (See Figure 1) “There's the WGA solidarity challenge where upper-level writers are reading lower-level writers and boosting them on Twitter. That's really great. That's not something that was happening before,” she said. “It's become the work of individual writers to try to mitigate the pain that lower-level writers and writers of color may be experiencing at this time as a result of the negotiation process.”

Figure 1

WHERE ARE ALL THE WRITERS’ ROOMS? One of the main reasons the dispute isn’t impacting Georgia is because of the lack of writers’ rooms available here. “I know there are different entities at this time that are trying to change that and create opportunities for writers and above-theline work, creators here in Georgia, but until we get real financing opportunities here to do it, this kind of thing is not going to hold much sway over the livelihood of Georgia writers,” Fulton acknowledged. Yeamen proposed that there should be a mandate for Hollywood productions coming to Georgia to hire a higher percentage of Georgia-based screen and teleplay writers for their writers’ rooms. Similar to the requirement that so many crew members on set need to be local in order for studios to get the tax breaks, the same thing should exist for teleplay writers. “You have to have at least one or two, or a percentage,” she suggested, “or a certain amount of your writers should be from Atlanta if you're going to make the show in Atlanta.” Fulton agreed that a mandate of this

kind would be important, but she’s not sure it’s the solution; at least not just yet. “We don't have enough writers' rooms here to ask for that kind of quota. There aren't enough writers' rooms based here to even have that discussion.” That’s coming from someone who is an example of the benefit of having Atlanta-based writers working on an Atlanta-based series. When it came to her contribution to the scripts for Ambitions, Fulton knew the area and the communities represented on screen and could offer first-hand insight into some of the subject matter of the program, for example, the case of a gentrification storyline. “I knew a lot about it. I had written a play about it,” Fulton explained about her experience with that particular issue. It also helped that she had worked in local politics and knew the ins and outs of city council, valuable input for show set partly in Atlanta government. Not all films and television shows filmed in Georgia are about or set in Georgia. Ambitions is a special case: they established a writers’ room in the state. Will Packer, the show’s producer, desired not only to have the writers located near the production but also to include local writers in that room. “It's not until powerful producers decide that that's what they want to have happen. . . that it's going to happen,” Fulton affirmed.

A SEAT AT THE TABLE For Jackson, there’s another issue presently for writers that is more important than packaging fees, and this one also concerns a number of Georgia content creators. “It is a fact that people of color don't have representation. They've been denied representation,” she stated, noting faults with diversity initiatives. “One showrunner declared that they had a certain percentage of diversity, but we realized it was just caucasian women and wasn't really true diversity. I think we still have a long way to go to make these writers' rooms look more indicative of the communities in which we live.” Some of the resistance comes out of unnecessary fears. “I've had conversations with a caucasian male manager who expressed to me that he feels like he's going to be extinct because of diversity,” Jackson revealed. “But the data and the numbers don't show any validity to his concern. That's what it looks like when

you are so comfortable inside of a system, a system where when someone says, ‘Hey, can we just hire one or two more people of color inside writers' rooms, white men respond by saying, ‘I'm worried about myself and my prosperity in America.’ We're literally just asking for you to make your writers' room look more like America.” The system in place has also traditionally been cliquish, and that has been an issue for people of color trying to make gains in the industry and to be a part of the projects being packaged. As Jackson points out, when diversity riders began to be introduced in Hollywood and producers were first calling for more people of color in their writers’ rooms, one of the Big Four agencies, CAA, launched Amplify, their inclusion database; but that only went so far. “They went on a public relations barrage about how they’d run out of writers of color,” she said. “Basically, all of their writers of color were staffed and they couldn’t meet the demand anymore.” Of course, there are thousands of writers of color available to work, just not signed to CAA. “Systemically, these agencies have only carried four or five [clients of color] at most,” Jackson pointed out. “When you start looking at the numbers at these agencies, you have an extremely lopsided talent pool in the sense that most agencies are predominantly representing caucasian artists. When I became a WGA franchise, I initially did it to try to help put more writers of color in the rooms.” Fulton thinks the agencies haven’t trusted writers of color to be anything but niche talents. “I don't know that agents see black women writers as able to cross genres and create different types of work,” stated Fulton. “They need to look at us and consider us as viable options for many different types of shows, as opposed to just certain black shows. I think that is a problem we're encountering. They just can't consider us for other kinds of opportunities.” Fulton’s been trying to convince agencies that she doesn’t need to do other series like Ambitions. “One of the things I say when I reach out to agents is, ‘I like all kinds of different projects. I don't want to be ghettoized as a writer. I don't want you to see me as someone who only writes on black shows. I love black people and black culture and I am able to speak to it and write for it and understand it or connect

with it. I love black history as well and I love historical dramas. I can write for those shows, but I can do other things as well.’” Jackson wishes the industry could just be more open minded in general when it comes to the perception of emerging artists, though she also acknowledges that embracing new talent can be slower when it comes to content creators. “We have been very patient with literary,” she disclosed. “I haven't even found anyone yet. I just kicked out my first contract because we took six months to make sure the people we wanted to work with were the right people. We didn't rush into it, because we know how delicate it can be.” She also realizes that many artists out there aren’t going with a boutique agency like hers because it’s not one of the “Big Four.” “I don't have a red carpet that I roll out and put 14 people in a conference room and say, ‘here's your team,’ and bring in sushi,” Jackson admitted. “But I am here. I've built this thing from the ground up because the system didn't want me in it. If there's a writer out there who is looking for someone who's hard-working and understands what's going on, that's why I'm here, that's what I do, those are the people I serve.” Jackson is hopeful that the needs of Georgia will be met eventually when it comes to writers’ rooms, but she also has to be realistic about the state’s future and what needs to happen. “You have had a lot of A-listers move into your state and you still haven't seen much change except for more production,” she said. “Things are still being sent to LA. It's going to take a concerted effort from someone of status and stature to create what needs to be created.” Maybe there are others who can help as well who haven’t been discussed as much as the writers, agents and producers of a certain stature. “There's room for managers here, even more so than agents,” Fulton suggested. “Because if you have a great manager who really supports the development of your work, you can have someone then potentially become a producer on the project. I do think there is an amazing amount of talent here in Georgia. To have a manager who's nurturing the projects that the talent is creating, that can be a fruitful relationship that blossoms here even more so than an agent-talent relationship.” March / April 2020



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


By: Annie Lockwood


hen it comes to making any film or television project funny, it requires performers to have a special gift: the unspoken ability to use their inherent humor to make a scene pop on camera. Oz Magazine spoke with nationally touring stand-up comedian, actor, and entrepreneur Cocoa Brown on what it means to do it all. Cocoa’s work takes her all over the country but her love of the South has her building roots in Fayetteville. Cocoa has appeared in Georgia produced projects from Tyler Perry like Single Moms Club and For Better or Worse not to mention her scene stealing roles in Ryan Murphy’s 9-1-1 and American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.

A lot of stand-up comedians get into acting as a secondary stage in their career. Which love came first for you: acting or stand-up comedy? CB: Honestly, acting came first for me when I was 10 years old. I got bit by the acting bug while doing local theatre and continually doing it in high school. As I got older, it remained a hobby, but when I was about 22 years old I minored in drama in college. I never assumed it was for a living; I only assumed it would be on the side. Which one do you find to be more challenging?

CB: Hands down acting is the hardest. It requires so much of who you are and to constantly strip yourself down to your barest, most vulnerable parts and rebuild. But with stand-up; it’s my therapy. I get to go on stage and be a version of myself that makes me feel empowered. Even though you assumed it was always going to be on the side, did you always aspire to be a comedian or actor as a career? CB: As a kid, up until age 15, I wanted to be a pediatrician. Acting was not on my radar at all as a real career path, neither was stand-up comedy! When I was in high school, I had the grades to get into a college course for telecommunications,

April 2020 March March / April /2020 53

TALENT and when I started taking the course I was instantly smitten with media and communication. It was a way for me to incorporate that love of acting in a different medium. Then as I got older, I shifted my focus to advertising and commercials, but the whole time still doing drama on the side. During this time I always went to comedy shows with my friends and even went to a live Def Comedy Jam. It took a friend to encourage me to go do an open mic for the first time. He knew a comedy club owner that wanted more women on the line-up, and even though I had no comedy experience, he saw my potential and gave me a chance on a show! I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing after that. When did acting and comedy become full time? What was the moment that did it, and what was your side hustle before then? CB: For a long time I had a day job where I was getting off at 6PM, getting on the road to do a show for $150, then driving back in the middle of the night, waking up to go to work, and doing it all over again. It was incredibly draining but so worth it! At the time I was working in the advertising department for the live events company that produced Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice. When I kind of realized comedy had taken over, my boss came to a few open mics to support me and once she saw what I could do she said, “You can let me fire you and collect a severance. Or you can quit and collect unemployment.” It was the biggest gift that she believed in me and was giving me the opportunity to not stay stagnant. When you had this big leap into comedy full-time, did you have a backup plan? And do you think backup plans are necessary? CB: I didn’t always trust that things were going to happen for me. I had self-doubt just like every actor and performer feels. I fell into my back up plan three times in my career! Right after I went full-time into stand-up, I panicked and got a job at an Avenue clothing store. I would duck down and book stand-up jobs behind the counter. Eventually, my comedy and 54

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

acting picked up and I had some amazing opportunities arise and Los Angeles was my next move. As I was moving to LA, my management company fell apart and I no longer had representation for a big development deal. I cannot tell you how incredibly chaotic it felt, so I decided to go back to school online for a Master’s degree in education. You know, they always need a Ms. Crabtree! I mean, I could teach until I’m 121 if I needed to. I’m glad I have that as a backup but I know that all of that hard work has paid off. Recently, I realized that stand-up has changed drastically from when I started so, instead of a backup plan it’s now having a constant side hustle. The side hustle for a stand-up comedy career is being on social media 24/7, promoting shows and events, and creating content. It seems like you have your plate full! What was the biggest challenge in balancing being both a working actor and touring stand-up comedian? Do you have a personal life? CB: To get to the point I’m at where I can balance, it takes a village. I need to have people that I can trust to do what I need them to so I can excel at my career. Honestly, [my village] sometimes changes but they all have my back. No matter where I’m based for whichever thing I am working on, whether it’s stand-up or a film a project, I have to leave my child. As a mom, I get into a guilt mode. Am I giving him everything he needs? Am I doing right by him? But when I’m off and with him, he’s all up under me just trying to get as close as he can. Those moments are why I work so hard, and I want to make sure that when I’m not working, I’m “mom.” The business is relentless and fickle. I don’t want to take that home to him, so I learned to cut that off. There is a certain feeling of defeat that comes with the entertainment business, and I never want to take that home. You are known for being a hilarious stand-up comedian and scene stealer, where did you get the fire to do that? CB: When I was a kid, my goal was to always make all of the other kids laugh at the cafeteria table, so we would all roast people. Sometimes the other kids didn’t know it, but we were roasting them hard!

But the people we would roast the hardest were each other. We would die laughing trying to one-up each other. I knew I always had to have the best burn. It’s that early introduction to roasting, I think, that makes me so quick on stage. You’ve worked with Tyler Perry, in the show For Better or Worse and in the movie Single Moms Club. What is one of your favorite things about working with Mr. Perry? CB: We filmed Single Moms Club in three and a half weeks and it was my first lead role in a film! I had only day played in film and TV at that point. It was a really great crash course for preparedness. New script? I can get it down quickly since I did this movie in less than a month! It was a major confidence boost that he saw me for that role and that the actors I worked with saw me in that light as well; we were all equals on that project. The dynamic was so fluid and natural yet there were all of these strong comedic actors who had the most respect for each other. Most of my scenes were improvised because Tyler Perry told me, “I trust your funny.” Sometimes on set, other actors don’t necessarily appreciate that freedom that I am given, but it’s my hard work and experience as a stand-up comedian that gives me that opportunity. It sounds like being a comedian is a major skill in your arsenal. Have you been on set where a director has relied on you to beef up the humor in a scene on the spot? CB: My skills as a comedian definitely have had to come into play, especially with comedic timing. A lot of times I am asked to rewrite on the spot by the director when they find out I’m a stand-up comedian. Stand-up always crosses over into acting. Surprisingly, acting even crosses over into stand-up when I need to bring my persona on stage and amp up my energy on dates that I may not be feeling it. They have been mutually beneficial and always will be. Off stage and off camera, would you say you are the same as your stand-up comedy stage persona?

my persona: fearless, brash and speaking truth. It’s an exhale and a relief from all that I am holding inside. When I get off stage, I feel like I got so much off of my chest. When I’m off stage and off set, I’m mom to my son. If I have a stand-up show in a destination that would be good for my son, like in Florida, I’ll bring him with me. During my show, he will sit in the green room with his big headphones on (so he can’t hear my adult humor) and enjoy a bunch of Shirley Temple’s and chicken tenders, becoming best buddies with the comedy club staff. Then the next day, we will go spend the day together sightseeing and making it a special trip for us. I love having the ability to have him know me as mom and making memories together that he can look back on while I am away working. It seems like you are always on the road touring when you are not on set. Do you have a favorite story from the road?

"My favorite on-set story is when I was very pregnant with my son, and I was still shooting For Better or Worse and we played a prank on Tyler Perry. It was a long shoot day and we made it look like my water broke on set. He fell for it . . . but he had the gall to ask if I could go for another hour!" CB: I am completely different off and on stage. I’m “Cocoa” on stage. As I have gotten further in my career, stand-up has become therapy. I am able to get all of my frustrations out on stage because that’s

CB: Oh my God, one of my favorite stories from the road is from years ago when I was doing a “one-nighter,” which is when comics drive to a gig out of town for just one night. The comic, Rob Stapleton, and I were in a crappy old Toyota Tercel and it was in the middle of the night on a dark country road from Myrtle Beach to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and we hit a bird! That dead (or half dead) bird was stuck in the grill the entire way and Rob refused to take it out! We could not stop laughing about the poor, gross bird in the Tercel grill. Conversely, do you have a favorite story from one of the many sets you have been on? CB: My favorite on-set story is when I was very pregnant with my son, and I was still shooting For Better or Worse and we played a prank on Tyler Perry. It was a long shoot day and we made it look like my water broke on set. He fell for it . . . but he had the gall to ask if I could go for another hour! What project are you most proud of? CB: I’m just proud that I’m still standing in a business that is built to make people lose it. The entertainment industry is one

that can break people down and defeat them, and I’m still here and thriving. There are a lot of things that come to mind. Professionally, I can say working with Samuel L. Jackson was a major highlight. It means a lot to me that Tyler Perry saw me on stage and requested to work with me based on that. I think one major career highlight for me was John Singleton getting me in the door to work with Ryan Murphy for American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, and then because of that work, Ryan Murphy requested me for 9-1-1. Who is an actor/ comedian that you want to collaborate with in the future? I never want to say dream collaboration because it can happen! CB: There are so many amazing people I’d love to work with but I think Ava DuVernay could pull a lot of amazing work out of me, especially if it was with Viola Davis! I’ve had the fortune of working on projects where I have been able to work my dramatic muscle and I would love to do it more. Someone I admire so much is the star of Black-ish and Mixed-ish Traci Ellis Ross. She is long overdue for her shine! I love the energy she puts out and how funny and engaging she is. I don’t understand why Hollywood has continued to pass over her! In my head, I have her as the lead for a project because of her unfiltered goofiness. She doesn’t have an air of pretense at all. What are some upcoming projects you are excited about on the horizon? CB: I am really excited about 9-1-1 and the 4 seasons I have appeared on so far. There were so many amazing, accomplished actors on that show, but I was an actor just like them. I’m also looking forward to releasing my stand-up special this spring/early summer. It’s going to be fire! I also recently launched the Cocoa Brown Collection, which includes CBD infused products like “My Minty Toes” foot cream, body scrub and luxurious eyelashes. I’m manifesting some more serious acting roles in 2020 so I can show my versatility some more as an actor. I can’t wait to see what comes.

March / April 2020











Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Opening Night Gala Atlanta Jewish Film Festival members, staff and guests came together for the festival’s opening night gala. The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary) performing his rendition of “Blowin' In The Wind” before the world premiere of the feature length documentary, Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance. 56

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

OZ SCENE 10 11








IMAGES 1. Panel discussion following the screening of Shared Legacies: The African-American Jewish Civil Rights Alliance 2. Sari Earl (AJFF board member), Spencer Shaver (producer & AJFF guest), Brennen Dicker (AJFF Board Member) 3. Helen Smith Price (Vice President of Global Community Affairs and President of the CocaCola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company), Sheri Labovitz (President, Second Helps Atlanta) 4. AJFF guest prepares for the Opening Night

screening of Shared Legacies: The AfricanAmerican Jewish Civil Rights Alliance 5. Linda Selig, Steve Selig (President and Chairman of the Board of Selig Enterprises, Inc.) 6. Jerry and Martha Jo Katz pose for a photo at AJFF's Opening Night 7. Peter Yarrow and the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir perform a rendition of hit classic "Blowin' in the Wind" 8. Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Ilana Levenberg, and AJFF guest 9. Martha Jo Katz (Gala Chair) prepares for the

AJFF Opening Night Gala 10. Jacob Ross (Director of No Pork on the Fork), Adam Hirsch (Director of No Pork on the Fork), Zach Bernath 11. Peter Yarrow and the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir perform a rendition of hit classic "Blowin' in the Wind" 12 - 17. Guests attend AJFF's Opening Night * Photography courtesy of Vaugh Gittens, Donald Felice & Randy Schiff

March / April 2020










“Reel People Care” Pinewood Studios Winter Gala Pinewood Atlanta Studios hosted the “Reel People Care” winter gala. All proceeds from the gala benefited Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity’s programs and other nonprofits that serve Fayette County. This is the only time of year Pinewood Atlanta Studios opened their movie stages to the public, providing an amazing opportunity for guests to connect with Pinewood staff, nonprofit organizations, corporate sponsors and celebrity guests. IMAGES 1. META Studios and Amario's Art Academy team up to create an interactive comic book, Fairy Quest, for the Reel People Care Pinewood Gala 2. Paul Jenkins talking with Alina Stringer about the role art plays in her life 3. A gala attendee with a Fairy Quest dolomite, celebrating their successful exit from the Fairy Quest enchanted forest


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

4. Paul Jenkins, founder of META Studios, delivering a heartwarming speech about the importance supporting youth 5. Student participants from Amario's Art Academy came together to help create a living version of Paul Jenkins' Fairy Quest 6. Gala student speaker, Alina Stringer (14), supported on the left and right by fellow students from Amario's Art Academy

7. Sarah Stipe from META Studios greeting attendees at the end of Fairy Quest, the interactive comic experience 8. Scott Conley, VP of Production at META Studios, taking photos for gala attendees to take home as a souvenir * Images courtesy of Dre's Photography







Atlanta Models & Talent Milestone In December, film industry professionals gathered to celebrate Atlanta Models & Talent’s (AMT) 60th anniversary. It was the second annual winter wonderland party AMT has thrown and it was deemed a huge success, as attendees brought along gifts to donate to Toys For Tots.

IMAGES 1. Glenda Young, Sarah Carpenter, Jacqueline Chester, Barbara Beneville, Kimberly Murray 2. Karen Beyer, Mason Thurman, Debra Nelson,

Kelly Nehmen 3. Clayton Landey & Leslie Landey 4. Sarah Carpenter, Mike Konanec

5. Jessica Luza, Jason Lockhart, Tara Feldstein Bennett, Zack Bennett 6. Caila Cordwell, Tracy Nguyen

March / April 2020










Aztec Warriors Studios Opening In January, Aztec Warrior Studios had its first opening to the public and press at their location in Decatur, Georgia. The studios revealed a purpose built stage designed for whisper quiet sound, equipped with a powered light grid and production offices. The Aztec Warrior team is committed to growing all aspects of the film industry in Georgia.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990






IMAGES 1. Mark Wilson and Gonzalo Marquez 2. Bell Nickerson, Reid, Stacy Randle and Deborah Fuller 3. Peter and Monica Dawson 4. Shameia Crawford

5. Tami Purcell 6. Marlene Rocha and Natalia Del Rose 7. Angel Contreras, David Perdue 8. Ryan Calhoun and Quinton Johnson 9. Dawn and Patrick Davis

10. Michael Wesselmann and Natalie Lutz 11. Chris Blue 12. Rock Solomon 13. Woody Goff

March / April 2020



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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

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“Attracting Productions to South GA” In Association with the South Georgia Film Festival Valdosta State University Student Union Building 1500 N Patterson St. Valdosta, GA 31698 Free Event!

GPP April Membership Meeting Tuesday, Apr. 7th (6:30-8:30)

Managing a Full Service Production Facility Registration/Networking|Program/Panel Discussion| Networking/Studio Tours ECG Productions Interstate North Pkwy SE, Suite 435 120 In Atlanta, GA 30339 Members Free | Guests $20

March / April 2020


04.01.20 CHANGE IS IN THE AIR... DanglingCarrotCreative.com


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

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