Oz Magazine May / June 2022

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OZ MAGAZINE



35 + YEARS OF REPRESENTATION May / June 2022

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MAY / JUNE 2022

CONTRIBUTORS DANIELA CINTRON Cover Story: Small Towns, Big Business, p.20

OZ MAGAZINE STAFF Publisher

Tia Powell (Group Publisher)

Sales

Born and raised in Mexico, Daniela Cintron is a bilingual freelance journalist featured on local, national, and international media, including CNN, Telemundo, and Discover Atlanta. Her journey in media began at the age of six as a radio personality and evolved throughout the years, developing as a multiplatform journalist. With a degree in Mass Communications from Piedmont University, Cintron is currently pursuing a Graduate Certification in Digital Storytelling at Harvard University.

Kris Thimmesch Sydnee Mutuku

ALEXA RACHELLE JENNINGS

Creative Director Michael R. Eilers

Production and Design Christopher Winley Michael R. Eilers

Contributing Editors Adrena Walton Winston Andrews

Cover:

Image Courtesy of Whistle Stop Cafe

Feature Story: Sounds Like You Need A Sizzle Reel, p.26 Alexa Rachelle Jennings was born and raised in Atlanta. She received her Bachelor’s of English, concentrating in Creative Writing from Georgia State University. She is an actor and can be seen in such shows as “Bigger” (BET +), “Dynasty” (CW), and “Greenleaf” (OWN). She has also appeared in national commercials for brands such as Sherwin Williams, AT&T, and Walmart, to name a few. She enjoys the arts and wants to be creative whenever she gets the chance.

EMILY FOLEY Feature Story: Supplying Demand, p.30 Emily L. Foley is a freelance journalist whose articles appear in publications such as Allure, O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, US Weekly and Instyle. com. She's interviewed Oscar, Grammy and reality show participants, the designers who've dressed them, and the hairstylists and makeup artists who make them look their best. A multiplatform journalist, Foley can also be seen as a television expert talking all things beauty, fashion, and lifestyle on television shows across the country, and on Instagram @emilylfoley. Emily resides in Atlanta with her husband and their spectacular young children.

NOAH WASHINGTON

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For Press Release Submission: tia@ozonline.tv

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Feature Story: A Marriage Drawn In the Character, p.36 Noah Washington was born in Richmond, VA. He is a Media Entrepreneur major at Georgia State University. He has written for multiple publications exploring culture in the entertainment industry and is currently a writer for the “National Newspaper Publishing Association” under the ”Blerd Binder” label and has been published in multiple states such as the “L.A Watts’’ times and the “Charleston Chronicle”.

/ozpublishing /ozmagazine Oz Magazine is published bi-monthly by Oz Publishing, Inc. 2566 Shallowford Road Suite 104, #302 Atlanta, GA 30345 Copyright © 2022 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper.

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SYDNEE MUTUKU Feature Story: Chatejah George, p.40 Sydnee is an Atlanta native with a passion for reading and writing. She is a Georgia State Alumni with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in Film and Media. Her love and appreciation for literature has grown tremendously. Anywhere she goes, you’ll find her with a book in her hand.


MAY / JUNE 2022

CONTENTS

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30

OZCETERA

FEATURE STORY

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

Supplying Demand Matt Davis of Reel Supplies

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20

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COVER STORY

FEATURE STORY

Small Towns Big Business

A Marriage Drawn in Character

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26

30

Jeff Yu and Marisa “Ginger” Tontaveetong

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40

40

FEATURE STORY

FEATURE STORY

Sounds Like You Need A Sizzle Reel

Chatejah George

LA Reels & Machinehead Creative

Opens Studio at 23 Years of Age

May / June 2022

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OzCetera

Award-Winning Filmmaker Lance Dreesen Joins the 24ATL Studios Team

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or over 30 years, 24ATL Studios has served as a premier virtual production, car process, and soundstage in Atlanta. Their new 30’ by 13.6’ LED wall, installed in 2021, makes them one of the first studios to offer this cutting-edge virtual production capability. The studio also operates with Unreal Engine capabilities, which is the same technology that allowed Disney’s hit show “The Mandalorian” to control digital content creation in real time during the filming process. The owner of 24ATL Studios, Terry Fitzpatrick, is excited to now welcome Lance Dreesen to the virtual production team! Dreesen graduated from the Grady College of Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and has gone on to become an internationally award-winning filmmaker.

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Dreesen’s directorial debut featured John Ritter and Bryan Cranston in “Terror Tract,” which he also produced. The film received rave reviews and won awards in both Europe and the United States, as well as a theatrical release in France and Latin America. His most recent movie, “The Way Home,” is written, directed, and edited by him. The inspirational film set new ratings records on cable channel GMC and stars Dean Cain in the true story of a community rallying behind a distraught family who are looking for their missing child. Dreesen’s impressive professional resume includes these productions along with five more feature films, documentaries, broadcast commercials, and promotional videos. His clientele ranges from some of the largest corporations in the United States like Lionsgate, Universal Pictures,

and Fox Television to small businesses and educational services. As a member of the virtual production team, Dreesen will help clients expand their horizons, utilizing 24ATL Studios’ new LED wall in addition to producing original content. L a n c e’s p a s s i o n a n d t a l e n t f o r production and storytelling, balanced with his business and management skills, enables him to truly understand the needs of our clients and to help them achieve their vision,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’m also thrilled to announce he will be our head producer/writer for our new in-house production company.”


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The Expansion of Cinelease StudiosThree Ring Is Officially Underway!

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his March, Cinelease Studios-Three Ring held a “Golden Shovel event” to break ground on a $144 million expansion of their film and TV production studio in Covington, Georgia. At the event, legislators, members of the Georgia Film Office, and film industry leaders expressed their excitement for the expansion which is guaranteed to bring new productions and jobs to the state. “The impact of the productions that come here go far beyond the film industry. These investments bring more money, more jobs, and more opportunities to communities like Covington,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This expansion is a great example of how rural areas can produce big gains both for their region and all of Georgia.” Cinelease first came to Atlanta in 2007 after the purchase of a warehouse in Eastpoint. Shortly thereafter, they began a studio management division and, in 2020, formed a partnership with Three Ring Studios to open a purpose-built media campus for television and film production. Located in Covington and complete with six sound stages, a large backlot, and twelve office buildings, the studio has operated at 100% capacity since its opening. “We’re always evaluating incentives and where productions want to be, and that combination is why we built Cinelease StudiosThree Ring here in Georgia in 2020,” said Gannon Murphy, Cinelease Studios General Manager. “Georgia has, for the last decade-plus, embraced the film and television industry by consistently providing a business-friendly and cost-effective work environment.” The expansion includes eight new stages which raises the campus total to 14 sound stages, spanning 276,000 square feet of space. Along with that, 100,000 square feet of office space and two new mill spaces will become available as well as new office amenities, eight acres devoted to outdoor filmmaking, and additional parking lots. “Production crews range from a handful to several hundred, but regardless of size, the local spend fuels Georgia’s economy,” said Cinelease’s Director of Studio Client Relations, Jessa Grazioplene. “From creating more jobs to renewing long-term leases on land, our vertical growth expansion of our 572,000 square foot purpose-built studio reinforces our local economic commitment.” The expansion of Cinelease Studios-Three Ring is expected to be finished by late 2023!

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May / June 2022

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OzCetera Jasmine Alexander

New Task Force Sets Sights On Film Industry Thieves!

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f ter a s t ring of robberies across Atlanta, lawmakers have approved new legislation to create a task force tasked with catching the thieves who are targeting expensive film and production equipment. Dozens of production companies in 13 different jurisdictions have already been hit, and the losses from stolen property total nearly $3 million. Considering the costly nature of these robberies, Atlanta City Council member Michael J. Bond arranged a meeting with the Atlanta Police Department in which he proposed the task force. The police agreed to move forward with the project

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in March, and the task force will go to work within the following 60 days. “This type of crime in particular that affects an industry that brings so much to Georgia has got to stop. The nature of these crimes suggests it is an inside job," said Councilman Bond. T h e P l u g AT L , ow n e d by Ka l i ef and Charlene Legend, is one of 30+ production houses who were robbed in the past year. Security camera footage from December showed the thieves breaking into the Brookhaven facility and stealing $100,000 worth of video, lighting, and audio equipment. The robbery only

took four minutes, which suggests that the thieves had prior knowledge of what equipment was worth stealing. The new task force is multijurisdictional which will allow investigators from the victimized counties to share information and work together to apprehend the thieves. As Georgia’s film industry continues to skyrocket, these measures are all the more necessary and provide renewed hope to production houses for a safer environment in the near future.


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OzCetera

Branding a City Stonecrest Studios

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he city of Stonecrest, Georgia is about to expand by 19 acres after city officials agreed to an annexation request for the land where a new film studio will be built. The request came from Shaw Dekalb Proper ties and, once complete, the campus will feature multiple production facilities spanning 150,000 square feet and including five sound stages. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are the desired clientele for the new studio’s productions when the property is ready. “Their fear is that they get lost when they go over to the larger studios,” said Shaw Dekalb’s attorney, Michele Battle, regarding the concerns around Netflix and Amazon Prime. After first becoming a city in 2017, Stonecrest set its sights on creating a name for itself in Georgia’s thriving film industry. A film and entertainment

commission was formed last year, and the new studio will be named after the young city. This is ideal because the city has not had much time to develop its brand, and the name power of a large film studio will certainly increase public awareness. This will not be the only film studio in Stonecrest as Nuground Studios, known for filming Netflix’s hit show, “Sweet Magnolias,” was annexed by the city last April. It also neighbors the 19-acre property of the future studio, leading Shaw

Dekalb representatives to mention their interest in eventually acquiring Nuground in order to expand Stonecrest Studios. The future film studio’s land is currently zoned for light industrial use, and there is a 75 foot gap between the studio site and neighboring houses. The city received no public concerns from residents, so the project is set to go. At the moment, there is no official timeline for the project’s completion.

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OzCetera

Georgia Film Academy Supporting Industry Workforce After Georgia film and TV productions spent a staggering $4 billion on projects last year, state officials are aiming to support the youth of the industry. Pulling in record setting amounts of cash is always great, and there needs to be strong, continued growth of the industry’s local workforce for the numbers to keep rising. Thi s i s w h e re t h e G e o rg ia F i lm Academy gets involved. The academy functions as a program approved by University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to of fer professional classes in film, television, digital entertainment, eSports, and game development.

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It opened back in 2015 with roughly 100 students enrolled in the program at colleges in Clayton, Gwinnett, and Columbus and now holds 11,000 students in 29 colleges and universities across the state! “The unprecedented growth of the film and television industry is due to the unprecedented growth of our workforce,” explained the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy Jeff Stepakoff. “We are making sure we have a permanent, sustainable workforce.” The of f icial campus is located in Trillith Studios in Fayetteville and offers students the opportunity to get hands-on training in a real studio environment. The

academy now offers a graduate program as well which will challenge students to get practice creating their own content. Sonja Chappell was a student at the University of West Georgia when she enrolled at the academy in 2020. Since then, she has gone on to become a production assistant for a Marvel movie where she designs sets and costumes. “I wouldn’t trade my experience with the Georgia Film Academy program for anything. That program shaped me into the person I am and helped me get an amazing job doing what I love,” she said.


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OzCetera Delores Crowell

The Georgia Film Foundation Is Here To Help!

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As the Peach State’s film industry continues to grow, The Georgia Film Foundation is determined to develop the education and training programs that contribute to the labor force. Delores Crowell, Executive Director of the GFF, will use her nearly 30 years of experience working with nonprofits and educational institutions to deliver funds to future film industry workers. "The state of Georgia has done a stellar job providing government-funded programs to benefit communities and grow a strong entertainment-based labor force," explained Crowell. "It is time for the private sector to step up and support the growth in a focused way. The executives that we've been working with understand and see the vision – I'm excited about our future." The founder of Blackhall Studios and CEO of Blackhall Americana, Ryan Millsap, supplied $500,000 to fund the GFF with the vision of using it to build up film and television programs in high schools, colleges, and universities throughout Georgia. "What we want to do in the private sector is simple – we want to use corporate dollars to support them,” said Millsap. “Our hope is that Disney, Sony, Warner Brothers, Netflix, Paramount, HBO, Universal, Amazon, and Apple will see what is happening in Georgia and will join us in contributing capital to the advancement of young people across the state." Crowell further explained, "Our corporate partners are absolutely crucial to the success of the Georgia Film Foundation. Working with both entertainment and Fortune 500 leaders in the state who can only gain from growing a skilled and savvy labor force is our number one priority. Intentionally creating the next generation of well-trained entertainment industry employees is tantamount to the future of this exciting business."


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OzCetera Brantley Dunaway

Atlanta Native Announces Partnership With Company B Entertainment

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rantley “Brant” Dunaway is set to open a new intellectual property development and film finance fund in Atlanta. Alongside him will be Company B. Entertainment w ho sp ecializes in acquisi t ion and development. Together, they aim to create productions primarily based on published literary materials. This is not Dunaway ’s f ir s t time in a production hub city as he has an impressive resume featuring 25 years of experience producing, presenting, and developing content in premiere locations like Los Angeles, Vancouver, and London. Most recently, he was named producer and executive director of “Faire Wind

and Song,” an international expedition documentar y series with a focus on supporting global communities. “I’m very excited to be launching this new fund here in Atlanta,” said Dunaway. “I’m an Atlanta native and I think Georgia has done an amazing job of attracting t alen t and p rov iding op p or tuni t ies for grow th and development in the entertainment industry here.” D u n aw ay ’s ro l e a s h e a d of t h e intellectual property development and film finance fund will have him heavily involved in choosing which content to produce as well as scripts, location, logistics, and casting. The various types

of content will include television, theater, streaming, and film distribution. His work will be in collaboration with Company B. Entertainment who will focus on acquiring film rights and building writing teams to support content creation. “People have referred to Georgia as the Hollywood of the South. When you consider the number of investments that have been made here as well as the diversity of content, I think that is a fitting statement,” remarked Dunaway. “It seems like the state and entertainment industry are in the early stages of an ongoing partnership. I look forward to working on many projects for many years to come.”

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ICP Production Centre

ICP Production Centre Is Atlanta’s New One-StopShop For The Film Industry

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n partnership with All Access, ATOMIC, and SoCal Rentals, Atlanta-based In Concert Production (ICP) has announced the opening of the ICP Production Centre. The 30,000 square -foot facilit y will function as a one-stop-shop for all the local film industry’s needs. “We put together a concept to bring together people from all over the film and TV industry that needed to be able to work here in Atlanta but didn’t have the infrastructure,” said Jay Rabbit, owner of the ICP Production Centre. The companies involved provide much needed, behind-the-scenes work for the film industry and include specialties like

set design, staging, dry-hire broadcast, and A/V rentals. Now, they are all under one roof making it a hub for filmmakers in Georgia. “9 times out of 10, we were all working together on the same productions anyway – so, now we can share sales, support personnel, transportation resources, shared rental equipment, warehouse staff, and other vital resources to guarantee a product that is expected,” explained ICP CEO Jay Rabbit in a press release. A big inspiration for creating the ICP Production Centre is to build the most reliable and trustworthy brand possible. Producers are often concerned whether

their support companies are following Georgia film and TV tax credit laws, and as a result of these companies sharing space, their accountability increases since it is not only one company with their reputation on the line. With a set-up like this, production houses from New York and Los Angeles can feel as comfor table working in Georgia as they do in their home cities. Not only will this bring more work to the Peach State, it will also improve Georgia’s reputation as one of the top film industries in the world.

May / June 2022

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OzCetera Maria Guerra-Stoll

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fter breaking ground in April 2021, Atlanta-based Playa Azula Media (PAM) Studios is excited to announce that PAM Studios had its grand opening with the Rome Floyd Chamber on April 21. Owned by a woman of Latin-American descent, Maria GuerraStoll, the studio’s mission is to provide women and members of minorities with the opportunity to flourish in the film industry. “We are proud to welcome PAM Studios to our community,” said Thomas Kislat, Rome Floyd Chamber Director of Membership and Entrepreneurial Development. “PAM Studios and its CEO Maria Guerra-Stoll will be instrumental for the continued growth of film productions in our county and state.” The facility, located at 510 Broad St. in historic downtown Rome, is a two-story building with office space and two sound studios spanning 9,020 square-feet of space. The next step is to build a quality workforce, and the studio is already connecting with institutions like Georgia Highlands College, Piedmont College, and the Georgia Film Academy to fill open positions with local students looking to get started in the industry! “Rome has welcomed PAM Studios with open arms and we are honored to have a place in Rome,” said Guerra-Stoll. “Joining this economic ecosystem will benefit the community and our company. We are hiring talent locally, ‘Home Grown in Rome.”


Blackhall Studios

Blackhall Set To Become The Largest Studio In The Southeast!

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lackhall Studios, the home to an impressive list of blockbusters including Jumanji, The Jungle Cruise, and Doctor Sleep, recently announced their intention to make a sizable $380 million investment in the expansion of their studio in DeKalb County, Georgia. In return, the Decide DeKalb Development Authority will provide Blackhall with a generous tax incentive program worth $68 million. Half of these incentives will be applied over the course of 20 years, and the other half will go directly toward helping Blackhall develop 155 acres of challenging topography at the expansion site. Once complete, the studio will double in size to over 2 million square feet and increase its number of sound stages from nine to an impressive 35! Officials estimate that the

development will bring 2,400 new jobs to the local film industry. “This landmark development represents the largest ever investment in South DeKalb that will create a training pipeline to high-paying careers and expand economic oppor tunities that open the door for more retail, restaurant, and industry options for the community,” said Dorian DeBarr, president of Decide DeKalb, in her interview with AJC. Blackhall has already star ted co n n e c t i n g w i t h t h e G e o r g i a F i l m Foundation and the Georgia Film Academy to line up those future jobs with prospective members of the film industry. They also plan to work with the county school system and local technical colleges to provide opportunities for

gainful employment. Additionally, the parent company of Blackhall, California-based Commonwealth Real Es tate LP, will invest $7.5 million to create a community progress fund in which the funds will be distributed for the benefit of the county by local stakeholders. To further incorporate the community drive, developers are talking with park officials about building a walking trail extending over a mile and connecting different parts of the county to the studio. Once the projec t breaks ground, officials expect construction to take 30 months.

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OzCetera MomoCon Cosplay Contest Winners celebrate on stage. Photo Credit Miguel A. Paramo

MomoCon Returns After A Two Year COVID Break!

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fter missing the last two years due to the pandemic, MomoCon is excited to make its return as Atlanta’s favorite geek culture convention! The all-ages event will take place this May 26-29 at the Georgia World Congress Center and feature four straight days of gaming, cosplay, and comics, as well as a few other unique events like a wrestling ring. With an estimated 120,000 turnstile attendees, MomoCon is ready for its biggest event ever and expects the numbers to continue growing! “Af ter t wo years, when our fans weren’t able to gather in all their glory, we are excited to be back and show a new and more exciting MomoCon experience for our visitors,” said Jessica Merriman, co-chair of MomoCon and Georgia Tech graduate. The inspiration for MomoCon began at Georgia Tech’s anime club, Anime O-Tekku. For years, the club was interested in holding a convention on campus, and that goal finally came to life in 2004 through the Techwood Convention. Although the event only welcomed approximately 175 people, it set the stage for members of the Anime O-Tekku club to hold the first ever MomoCon the following year. Originally, MomoCon was held across several Georgia Tech buildings, but the convention would soon experience a strong period of growth and welcome over 10,000 attendees in 2011, making it one of the top anime conventions in the Southeast! Because of this development, leadership realized that the drastic increase in demand required a much larger venue. In response to this success, they moved the convention to the Georgia World Congress Center, added a third and fourth day to what was originally a twoday event, invited more celebrities spread across multiple fandoms, and introduced new events like raves and martial arts programming. This year, the convention will stay

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open 24 hours a day and allow attendees to participate in eSports competitions; meet celebrity voice actors and designers; interact with the writers of well-known TV shows, games, and comics; and explore the world of independent video games. Additionally, MomoCon will host the Stranglehold Championship Wrestling matches featuring WWE wrestlers like Sgt. Slaughter and Kane throughout the weekend. All of these fantastic events will take place at the 750,000 square-foot “Hall B” of the GWCC. One of the event’s main attractions, cosplay, is a creative expression form where dedicated fans dress up as their favorite anime, video game, or comic book characters. These talented individuals will put their cosplaying skills on full display at MomoCon through two contests judged by professionals in the costume and prop design fields. The first of these contests is the Cosplay Showcase on Friday, May 27, which will select the competitor who best brought their character to life and made 60% or less of their costume by hand. The second contes t , The Craftsmanship Costume Contest, takes place the following night and requires that qualifying contestants have made 60% or more of their costumes by hand. In this case, judges will primarily score the competition based on the craftsmanship of the costume or prop. The fun does not stop here though, as there will also be KPOP/JPOP Dance Battles, a Disney SingAlong Contest, and an Anime Music Video Contest. Along with these fantastic contests, MomoCon will offer 300,000 square feet of classic arcades, eSports stages, PC/LAN gaming, console tournaments, and freeplay. A significant note for those interested: the console tournaments will feature 23 games and a Smash Ultimate $10,000 prize pool to go along with a 100 seat PC freeplay area, a 240 seat BYOC LAN area, and a Retro World Series where

competitors can show off their skills in playing games from the early 2000s. About 90,000 square feet of that space will also present board games, card games, RPGs, and LARP! MomoCon’s Chris Stuckey said, “You’ll find games such as Settlers of Catan, Cosmic Encounters, 7 Wonders, Splendor, Ticket to Ride, and Love Letter. We’ll even have game teachers on hand to help participants learn how to play the hottest new (and old) board games.” On a more business-related note, MomoCon’s career expo takes place Thursday, May 26, 2022, from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M. and 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. at the Omni Hotel International Ballroom. Attendees of this free event can expect the opportunity to connect with gaming, animation, comic book, film, and staffing companies and learn more about occupations in the entertainment industry. Throughout the event , celebrit y gues t s will put on panels and sign autographs. Among them include experienced professionals in the industry like Bill Farmer, voice of Disney’s Goofy and Pluto; Colleen Clinkenbeard, voice actor for English versions of Japanese anime such as “One Piece,” “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and “Dragon Ball Z”; Barr Fox, an award-winning cosplayer and film producer; Khary Payton, actor on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the voice of Cyborg for DC Comics; Phil LaMarr, actor in “Pulp Fiction” and voice actor for “Futurama” and “Family Guy”; and Jen Taylor, known for her work as Cortana and Dr. Halsey in the Halo video game franchise. Those attending can purchase fourday passes for $70 to $85 or single day passes for $35 to $50. Kids under the age of nine may attend for free. Game tournament registration and specific concert tickets are also available online. Please visit www.MomoCon.com for more information!


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Georgia Film Industry Continues To Soar Georgia’s film production infrastructure undergoes another big expansion as OPTIK Studios opens their second extended reality stage. The Norcross studio is 25 miles north of Atlanta and has all the desired cutting-edge technology to create immersive digital environments for high-level content creation. OPTIK is not the only Georgia location to add extended reality stages. SCAD recently built one at their Savannah campus and are currently in the process of building a full film studio around that stage. Trick 3D Studio and Music Matters Productions operate another extended reality stage in Peachtree Corners. Trilith Studios is in the process of building a similar type of stage as well. Set to be finished in April, theirs will include the same virtual production technology but will be much larger at 18,000 square-feet, which will establish itself as one of the world’s largest virtual production facilities. The purpose of the extended reality stage is to create a 360 degree virtual background using wrapped LED screens to immerse the film and crew in a world of their own design. This cuts down on the time and money spent for on-site shooting at specific locations because the stage can recreate any digital environment. This innovative technology first took off when “The Mandalorian'' premiered on Disney+ after filming at a Los Angeles extended reality stage. Virtual production got started with simpler designs like projectors and green screens and has quickly evolved into extended reality stages that constantly reach new heights of innovation. The jump in construction of these filming locations is only further contributing to Georgia’s ever-growing film industry, which surpassed the record for direct spending in 2021 with a total of $4 billion. “In terms of engineering, we’re at the tip of the iceberg with this technology,” said Nick Rivero, co-founder of OPTIK Studios.

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May / June 2022

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


By: Daniela Cintron

he film industry has become an important economic resource for the state of Georgia, but this does not only include the City of Atlanta. The industry has greatly impacted rural towns around the state. For some of those small towns, film productions have brought life back to their streets. For others, the lens has uncovered hidden gems to a world that now wants to see them, live them, and experience them outside the screen. The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) reported that the film and television industry set a new record of $4 billion in direct spending during the 2021 fiscal year on productions in the state. “The growth of Georgia’s film industry is truly exciting, impacting every corner of our state from communities to small businesses to individual Georgians,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson before speaking directly about the work the Georgia Film Office is doing to ensure large and small communities are ready to continue to capitalize on the industry.

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In 2010, the Georgia Film, Music, & Digital Entertainment Office (FMDE) launched the “Camera Ready Communities” program. With the bloom of film productions in Georgia, the program is designed to help identify liaisons throughout communities in Georgia to help as an extension of their office when assisting production companies. This would simplify the process and help effectively provide accurate local information and resources to production crews. With a more streamlined process and better local information, smaller towns are more likely to benefit and capitalize on the opportunity. Usually, production companies looking to film in Georgia first reach out to FMDE with general questions. They have a database of pictures and information previously provided by each Camera Ready liaison. Once they have more specific questions about each local town, the liaison steps in as a great resource. Liaisons usually come from the local convention and visitors bureau or economic development authority. They are experienced and trained, and are experts on anything related to their county. Liaisons are a source of information pertaining to local contacts for permits, local services, lodging, local

recommendations, and even resources to help hire local talent. “Some production needs and questions are best addressed on the local level,” notes the state government. Not a beginner at hosting film productions, one of the first counties to be Camera Ready was Rabun County in Northeast Georgia.

It was over 50 years ago since Rabun County had become the setting for movies and commercials. Long before the Camera Ready program and the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act passed, Rabun was already on the map. In 1972, Burt Reynolds’ “Deliverance” shone the light brighter on Northeast Georgia. Despite the smaller previous productions, it was this movie that changed things for the small towns located two hours north of Atlanta. Not only did it put Rabun on the radar of other filmmakers, but it also put it on the radar of those looking to explore the outdoors. "I think the movie was the single most important thing as far as impact that happened to Rabun County," said Louise Dillard during an interview in 2018. Dillard is the owner of Dillard House, a local famous restaurant where Burt Reynolds himself would stop by to eat and talk to locals. Continuously, he shared his love for North Georgia and talked about

During the filming of “Trouble with the Curve” in Rabun County, actors Justin Timberlake and Clint Eastwood went for a round of golf with Director Rob Lorenz and Rabun County local Jason LeBlanc. (Photo credit: Waterfall Club)

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the fond memories he had from shooting along the Chattooga River. “Deliverance” was just the beginning of his love story with Georgia. He went on to shoot six more movies in Georgia after that. The movie attracted not only other film productions to the northeasternmost county in the state but also tourism. Through the film, people began to discover Rabun County’s rivers, and drafting and tubing became local attractions. “Due to its [“Deliverance”] popularity, three outdoor adventure companies were founded in 1972, and all three - Southeastern Expeditions, Nantahala Outdoor Center, and Wildwater - are still operating 50 years later,” said Pete Cleaveland, a New York native who has called Rabun County home for the past 25 years. One of the top-selling points for Rabun County, which makes it different from the rest, is the fact that it is 75% national forest. It is the only county in the state with three state parks - Black Rock Mountain State Park, Tallulah Falls State Park, and Moccasin Creek State Park. The beautiful historic Downtown streets, the welcoming smiles, and the breathtaking outdoor spaces make Rabun County an attractive place for tourists and film productions, which have continued to increase over the years.


“It was a slow night, and all of the sudden I looked out the kitchen window into the dining room and saw Robert DeNiro standing at the hostess station,” said Rosalva Martinez, who was then cooking at a former local restaurant Rumorz Haz It. “It was him. I knew it was him. He stopped by to make his own dinner reservations. You don’t expect to see that happen in this small town.” Robert DeNiro was in town shooting Killing Season with co-star John Travolta and a full production crew. Rabun County has seen other A-list celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd who made the Northeast Georgia mountains home for a few weeks while shooting “Wanderlust” in a nearby town. Hillbilly, Lawless, Trouble With the Curve, and Christmas on the Range are some of the productions where the streets of Downtown Clayton or the rivers and mountains of Rabun County can be spotted. Standing Up made the beautiful small town its full set, becoming the first film to shoot completely in town. Productions like this have an incredible economic impact on Rabun County. “When shooting outside a certain circumference out of Atlanta, production has to house their team there,” explained

Pam Thompson, owner of Dillard House Stables and Camera Ready liaison for Rabun County. “So, when they did Standing Up here [Rabun County], the direct spending into the town was tremendous.” According to records taken by Thompson, four movies shot in Rabun County immediately after the Camera Ready program went into place had a total economic impact of $3.4 million on the county. “It is exciting for our small town to watch the film and see our beautiful area,” said Rabun County resident Sonya Shook. “It also brings business to our area.” As Thompson explains, when film productions come to town, they spend money locally on things such as rentals, hotel rooms, services, doctors, groceries, gravel companies, car repairs, office space, camps, extras, and so much more. They are buying things they need for the production, and they are consuming at local restaurants and stores while in town. “It’s very exciting to have films shot in our town,” says Rabun Martin, owner of Lulu and Tully Mercantile in Downtown Clayton. A production crew had asked to paint a wall outside her business. She agreed on the condition that they left it better than they found it, since it was a project she had been meaning to tackle herself. “They did. They came back and left

it just like [they] promised they would,” Martin recalls, excited about the whole experience. “Everyone needs coffee,” says Ivy Million, General Manager at White Birch Provisions. “We definitely see an increase of customers when there is a production in town. We love it.” “Film productions are the ultimate tourist,” says Thompson about the impact on the local economy. “They come during the off-season and spend money.”

Along with economic benefits, film productions have also helped establish landmarks in small towns around Georgia. Such is the case for Juliette, Georgia. Just an hour south of Atlanta, Juliette sits in Monroe County. A small town developed by the coming of the railroad in 1882, it became home to an important piece of the classic film “Fried Green Tomatoes.” The 1991 film is an American comedydrama directed by Jon Avnet and based on the 1987 novel “Fried Green Tomatoes" at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” In the story, a housewife who is unhappy with her life befriends a colorful and cheerful elderly lady in a nursing home who inspires her to change her life for good.

Mystic Falls by Jessica Lowery

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In the movie, as the name clues us in, a key location is the Whistle Stop Cafe. Juliette had just the right place for it. The building had served as a grocery store from 1927 until 1972. It was already iconic and essential since then for the people of Juliette. It was one of a kind, selling "everything from the cradle to the grave,” as its owner Edward L. Williams, Sr. said. In 1972 after its closing, the store was rented out as a real estate office and then an antique store. It was then that the production team for Fried Green Tomatoes decided to make it the Whistle Stop Cafe for the film. After the filming wrapped up, the new owner, Robert Williams, decided to keep it as the Whistle Stop Cafe and partnered with Jerie Lynn Williams to make it an actual restaurant. Since then, people from all over travel to Juliette for a chance to eat at the famous Whistle Stop Cafe. The menu includes - of course - the famous fried green tomatoes and a few other classic southern dishes mentioned in the film. Fans can find some of the original items used in the film on display and incomparable hospitality that only the South knows how to do. With visitors from all over the world, small Juliette is a must-visit in Georgia

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where the legend of Fried Green Tomatoes continues years after the production was filmed.

Film productions also have the power to bring ghost towns to life. Such is the case for the City of Grantville in Coweta County - 45 minutes southwest of Atlanta. A town that almost vanished after the closing of a cotton mill became the perfect film location for AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” It is known that the series has featured various towns throughout Georgia, and Grantville was one of them. The abandoned and dilapidated buildings, faded structures, and isolated small town feel were perfect for the postapocalyptic setting of the series. Lawless and Broken Bridges found Grantville just as attractive for filming for very similar reasons. However, it wasn’t until the “The Walking Dead” episode aired that waves of tourists from all over the world started to show up to the rural southern town. Tourism gave Grantville a new life. Grantville created an opportunity to showcase their town and the film locations for the popular series. Morgan’s hideout apartment from Season 3 is one of the main attractions. It is still intact and looks just like it was portrayed in the

“Clear” episode with writing on the walls, animal cages, and rifles. Self-guided and guided tours are available, and even the opportunity to rent the apartment right next to it through AirBnB. There are at least nine film locations to visit in Grantville. Another of the fanfavorite stops is the “Away with you” wall which leads one of the characters to the place where he would burn the bodies of walkers. In past years, the popular character from the series “The Notorious Negan” even came as a guest tour guide. Fans had the opportunity to not only see the film locations in person, but meet one of the main characters. Tourism increased, and so did the rural town’s size. The 2000 Census shows a population of 1,309, and by 2010, the Census shows that population more than doubled to 3,041. More tourism means more opportunities and more jobs. After “The Walking Dead” came through Grantville, other film productions such as Jim Carey’s “Dumb and Dumber To” have come to town over the years, bringing optimism for the growth and development of the rural town which now relies heavily on the film industry.


If there is any doubt that Georgia is the new Hollywood, Covington would prove anyone wrong. Making it to the list of rural towns that have hosted film productions and now have an array of tours showcasing film locations, Covington takes it a step further. An actual Walk of Stars, downtown Covington displays 30 pavers representing the television and film productions that have filmed in Newton County. Covington has been the set for numerous productions since 1954, including “Vampire Diaries,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “My Cousin Vinny,” and “Dukes of Hazzard.” They are proud of it and make sure anyone who crosses their town knows it. Year after year, the town has welcomed thousands of visitors who look to see iconic filming locations for some of their favorite productions in person, especially “Vampire Diaries.” Based on this, local fans of the show saw an opportunity and made it into a successful business, Vampire Stalkers. What started as a simple desire to spend more time with the cast of “Vampire Diaries” as fans, turned into a great opportunity for six mega fans of

the series. During the filming, they spent most of their free time hanging out on set. To better explain to family and friends what they were doing, they began to call it Vampire Stalking. The name stuck around, and today it is the name of their company. Created by fans, Vampire Stalkers presents Mystic Fall Tours in Covington, giving visitors an incredible experience with behind-the-scenes commentary and access to filming locations of the CW series. They also run the local museum which showcases actual screen-used items in “Vampire Diaries” and other films shot in Covington. All items were directly donated to them by CW and Warner Brothers and are for display only. Entry to the museum is free, but Vampire Stalkers expanded their profit opportunity with a merchandise store and the establishing of a new adventure, expanding their horizons to other films through their company “Hollywood of the South.” Large and small towns across Georgia continue to see the benefits of the film industry. The opportunities continue to arise, and the world continues to discover more about the beauty of the nature, cities, and people in our state.

Hollywood of the South Tour in Covington by Jessica Lowery

North Georgia Mountains

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LIKE YOU NE S D ED UN O A S

BY: ALEXA RACHELLE JENNINGS

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


Brett Newton on set of a demo reel shoot

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utting yourself out there is easier than ever. Now you don’t have to wait for someone to call you or to see your potential. You can make your own content, distribute it, and get a following without needing an entire team to back you! The quality of our technology alone is a game changer for everyone, and finding the right people to help you is where Jon Esther and Brett Newton come into play. Both have separate companies that serve a specific similar need for different people.

LA REELS Brett Newton with LA Reels helps service actors that need demo reels to get ahead in their careers. Starting in Los Angeles and branching out to Atlanta, he saw the potential to help others grow by creating short clips with a cinematic feel. The company as a whole has done over 4,000 reels for their clients. I’d say they are experts in their field. As an actor, it is very important to be able to show people what you are capable of on-screen. So if you are just starting out and no one will give you the time of day, this can be a great step forward. Also, if you are a seasoned actor and want to try something new to prove that you can also play the “weirdo next door” instead of the “girl next door,” LA Reels can set you up for success.

Newton’s process is quite seamless because he has been doing this for over 10 years. Once you reach out to him about doing a reel, first and foremost, you talk about the script. The script must be in TV format at a page to a page and a half. They want you to do original content, so if you don’t have that or aren’t interested in writing it, Newton’s team has an entire catalog of scripts that they have written to suit your needs. You can change the characters around and really make it your own. His goal is that you get to

collaborate with each other and finish with a product that truly benefits you. By the time the script is figured out, there is a pre-production meeting where you discuss hair, makeup, casting, and wardrobe. These are very important and bring a lot to a scene. The client can bring in an actor that they know to star in the scene with them, but LA Reels also has people they can recommend that are reliable and come prepared to every shoot. When it comes to locations, LA Reels will provide those too. They have access to many, but if there is something special that you are looking for, or somewhere that you want specifically, you are responsible for sourcing that location. Newton states, “What is most important when shooting a reel is the relationship, the location, great sound, and good depth and light. If it’s not going to be beneficial for the final product, it’s not going to be beneficial for the actor. At the end of the day, these scenes are sixty to ninety seconds long, and the pages are a page to a page and a half. The pacing is important… When we make the demo reel, we will take the best thirty seconds to make the scene. Fifteen seconds is all you need. If you [already] have a lot of content, you wanna keep it moving, you wanna keep the person engaged.” Fluidity is what makes a demo reel interesting, and from the May / June 2022

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Brett Newton

experience gained from LA Reels, Newton has really become an expert at making people stand out. Between twenty-four to fortyeight hours before a shoot, Newton will send out a call sheet to everyone that is involved, so they can confirm. The day of the shoot is meant to be fun and exciting. Come prepared and bring your best self so that you can play with the scene and with your scene partner. LA Reels also offers a “tele” (telephone) scene, where it is a quicker shoot and the client is the only one on camera. A monologue and a moving shot is involved and it adds contrast to the typical scenes we get as actors. It really is your time to shine. Once everything is shot, Newton will send out the raw footage with time stamps for you to approve and confirm the cuts that you want in your reel, or you can leave that up to him and his team to decide which cuts make you unique. Once confirmed, it takes about 10-15 business days to get the mastered version. Now you can send out your clips to get new representation, or even to show your old reps what else you can do. It’s truly convenient from beginning to end.

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I asked Newton what the future of LA Reels will look like and he said, “... of all the scripts we wrote over the years, I have about 2000 scripts available to use. So, I have all this intellectual property that LA Reels owns… so I put metadata on the scripts like genre, character type, [and] age range. I’ve been building an app for actors over the last fourteen months called Weekly Audition. Right now we are in a live beta with paid users. You go on as an actor and fill out a profile and every week in your inbox, you get mock auditions, mock sides. We licensed those scripts so you can use them for auditions, in your demo reel, or in class. The next iteration we are building is a community page so…you can get feedback from your community. In the future, the goal is to add other creative types, like a coach, or casting director…I built it for myself selfishly because it’s one of those things that I wish I had when I was first starting out in this industry and even now. If I’m only getting one or two auditions a month…” Weekly Audition becomes “a workout, so I get to practice and work on my craft.”

MACHINEHEAD CREATIVE Sizzle reels and demo reels are not just for television and film. They are used to explain a story without giving spoilers away. Recently, I learned that some people use sizzle reels for novels to promote their books. As an avid reader, I am shocked that I have never heard of this concept before, but it makes complete sense. If I don’t want any major plot points ruined by reading a book review, a sizzle reel makes it easy to know if that’s the book for me. Some people use actors and some use footage with narration to get their point across. Both seem to be very effective. Jon Esther, owner and creator at MachineHead Creative, has worked freelance for the past 20 years. Speaking with him, I learned a little about his process as a whole when it comes to creating reels. His typical work entails sizzle reels for news companies like CNN and Reuters where he takes hours and hours of footage and shortens it to four or five minutes. Sometimes they even ask him to take all of that and make it into a fifteen to thirty second commercial or trailer. And sometimes the turnaround


time for these spots has a very tight deadline. So, doing a reel for a novel was out of his typical genre, but it was a breath of fresh air for Esther. As a friend of his was finishing up his debut novel, he asked Esther for help with a sizzle reel.. Luckily for me I also got to chat with that friend, Robert Gwaltney, author of The Cicada Tree, to get both perspectives of the process. Gwaltney worked on his novel The Cicada Tree for about five years from start to finish. When he was almost done with it, he started to put together some visual aids to help his story move along. “I see the book cinematically, so I wanted for those individuals who…seeing it visually, might help pique their interest about the novel. Really trying to get any sort of competitive edge in the world to get attention to your work. They’ve [novel sizzle reels] been around for a while.” Gwaltney continues, “before I finished the novel, I put together some images to some music to creatively help propel me to the end. It’s helpful to be able to see the arc of the novel…” He already had a rough cut of what he was looking for and sent it to Esther. Gwaltney knew what he wanted as far as the tone was concerned, so it became

a very collaborative process. He told Esther that he wanted it to be backtracked to Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven and that it needed to have a southern gothic feel. Typically for Esther, starting with the music is key because music can make or break a project, especially if you can’t get the rights to use the music. Gwaltney wrote a synopsis to be narrated by a friend of his that does voice acting to really set the tone. The book is about an eleven year old girl in the South, so the accent and timing needed to be just right. As Esther worked on finding the right images, everything came together. Esther explains because it was a new medium for him, “all of it was challenging because it was my interpretation. I didn't do anything for three days except think about it and come up with visuals that fit what [Gwaltney] was saying. The challenge was now I have an idea of what I’m looking for but there's not exactly those kinds of shots using all stock photography… so you have to find things that work to replace the idea that you had in your head. And sometimes that’s actually very helpful because now you're open-minded with how the shot can be

interpreted. That way you’re looking at a lot of different aspects for the reel.” Esther continues that after the reel was done, “[Gwaltney] put it on all social media platforms. He said his responses have been remarkable and his publishers were very happy with it. Robert totally trusted me. He didn’t change one thing.” When asked if he wanted to continue working on novel sizzle reels, Esther said, “I really want to do more of them. I think it’d be great and I’m hoping that more people approach me about it because it was a lot of fun and it’s so different from what I do.” Being someone that only judges a book by its cover, it’s extremely helpful to get another version of visual aid to make the decision to buy a novel or not. The end result of The Cicada Tree is beautiful and the feel is complete with the voice, music, and sepia colored footage. It certainly makes me want to find out what is going to happen.

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By: Emily L. Foley

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ndustry specialization is a business strategy that has propelled countless businesses to success, but one Atlanta company is utilizing the method in a unique field: building supplies for the film industry. Based in East Point, Reel Supplies is the only building supply company in the entire country dedicated strictly to the film and television industry, and that specialization is paying off.

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Matt Davis

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President and CEO of Reel Supplies Matt Davis started the company in August of 2021, and his story is one that proves that hard work and innovative thinking can be the perfect recipe for success. In 2004, Davis began working at a local lumber yard and worked his way up the ladder there. He was working in sales in 2008 when the Georgia Entertainment Industry

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Investment Act propelled the state into a production haven, and his company began servicing the film industry. Davis started running operations for the film production side of things at the company and developed countless relationships within the industry throughout the next decade. Thanks, in part, to those connections he had in the industry, he was recruited by United Rentals (the largest

rental company in the world) in 2018 to start up a Sports & Entertainment branch in Atlanta. He continued to work with many of his same contacts for the next three years, many of whom urged him to go back to his roots of building supplies and start his own company, as they missed his expertise in that side of the industry. While Davis was fortunate to keep his job during the Covid-


related production shut down, the down time allowed him some space for reflection and he began to consider the prospect. “We did a lot of market research, and I was able to get statistics from the Georgia Film Office; and the market, in the last three years, has doubled and that’s not to mention what’s about to happen in the next twentyfour months,” Davis shares. Of course, he’s referring to the fact

that once Pinewood Atlanta Studios completes its Fayetteville expansion, Cinelease Studios completes its expansion of Three Ring Studios in Covington, Third Rail Studios completes its Doraville development, and Blackhall Americana completes its Newton County campus, Georgia will double its current production space. With the numbers crunched and lucrative and the forecast

looking highly favorable, Davis jumped into his new endeavor with a team of three, including Jess Forrester–another wellknown name in the industry–as his VP of Operations. Now, just a few months into Reel Supplies being open for business, it’s evident that his jump was the right move. Right as Reel Supplies opened, Disney began filming "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "Guardians of the

"My entire staff can focus on these large-scale projects, and they understand the urgency and pace of the industry.” Matt Davis

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Galaxy Vol. 3" and Davis and his team were immediately hired by both productions. At the time of our interview with Davis, Reel Supplies had expanded to a team of 12 and had been hired to work on 99 film and television projects since the beginning of 2022 (including many Marvel shows and films, lots of Tyler Perry Studios productions, Monarch, The Resident, The Wonder Years, Blue Beetle, and Kindred). Davis estimates the number of productions will be over 130 by the time this issue goes to print. “Our timing was incredible,” Davis says. “We started the business at the perfect time, as the industry is booming, and with so much infrastructure being built across Georgia to support the industry, we see no indication from the state that it’s going anywhere any time soon.” Reel Supplies is also a boon to the state as it employs 12 Georgians (and growing) and Davis chooses to work with suppliers who are local. “Together, we and our suppliers employ thousands of Georgians,” he says. “That ripple effect of working with and investing in local businesses stimulates huge growth to the economy of our state.” The location of Reel Supplies has also helped spur its success: “Location was a non-negotiable

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for me as I created a business strategy,” says Davis. “We’re in East Point, within 10 miles of eight major studios. On any given day, we’ll have trucks coming in to pick up supplies for 30-40 different shows and we’re centrally located to all of them.” Of course, a huge component to the success of Reel Supplies has also been Davis’ ability to source lumber at a time when lumber is difficult to acquire across the entire country. When asked how he has managed to continue to get those much-needed building supplies for his clients, Davis credits his expertise. “Of course, getting lumber has been tricky for the last year, but it’s all about forecasting demand,” he says. “I do as much homework as I can on the front end, finding out what is coming to town to film, and that way I can stay ahead of the customers’ demands.” Davis’ tenure in the industry has him well-suited to make those supply projections based on the types of projects that are headed to Atlanta, and his impeccable reputation during said tenure has also helped him secure supplies, as he networks with multiple sources to get what he needs. Fortunately, he also believes the most trying times of building supply shortages are also behind us. “I think Covid’s effect on

building supplies is coming to an end,” he says. “Interest rates are creeping up, and once the housing market slows down, it will free up the supply chain for other things. I think by the end of the year, it will be in a much better place.” Until then, of course, Davis is still working his magic to help productions get exactly what they need in record time. Although the various components that contribute to the success of Reel Supplies might be pretty obvious to an outsider, when Davis himself is asked about the secret to his success, he says: “I attribute a large part of our success as a business to hiring industry experts with extensive production knowledge and industry-specific customer service and logistical experience.” Davis himself has focused almost entirely on the filming industry since 2008, and by bringing a team of experts with similar career experience alongside him, he can ensure the best possible customer service experience for his customers. “Since we don’t have walk-in customers, and we’re not dealing with people coming in [and] working on renovations or small personal projects, my entire staff can focus on these large-scale


Reel Supplies on set

projects, and they understand the urgency and pace of the industry,” he says. It also speaks volumes about the wisdom in Davis’ decision to make his business industry-specific. “It’s kind of remarkable that we can do what we do so efficiently with the amount of people we have, but it all goes back to the fact that production construction is all we do,” says Davis. “Our competition has home builders, remodelers,

walk-ins, and we don’t have any of those distractions. When someone calls in an order, all we’re doing is pulling orders for those productions.” On the personal side, Davis considers himself fortunate to get to work in an industry he loves, and that has made such a huge impact on his life personally and professionally. “I’m so grateful to the state and the councilmen and women who

have supported and encouraged growth in this industry over the past 10+ years,” he shares. “I get to work every day and see how happy we’re able to make our customers and how excited our employees are. We take care of business, but we have a good time while we do it. This industry means everything to me and my family, and I look forward to what the future brings.”

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By: Noah Washington

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ickey and Minnie. Donald and Daisy. Fred and Daphne. These iconic animated couples have nothing on the powerhouse animating couple that is Jeff Yu and Marisa Tontaveetong. A difficult feat to accomplish for sure. Both are integral members of the animation guild of the Southeast, ASIFA-South, or as it is properly known as, Association Internationale du Film d’Animation. Tontaveetong is the Executive Director for the guild and Yu is the Business Director.

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Married in 2021, these two have a love story that begins at the Savannah College of Art & Design in Atlanta (SCAD) after meeting in the Mixed Martial Arts club. Yu had come to SCAD ATL with the intention of pursuing illustration, but once Yu witnessed the animation pipeline while in Atlanta his interests changed. “All the anime and shows that I used to watch got me interested, but then when I saw 3D and concept and seeing how it all came together, it just fell into place.” Tontaveetong also had a very similar moment,“I wanted to get into comics and manga as well, but I kept getting distracted. Animation is a similar way to tell a story, but with things that I am more interested in touching. I wanted to be less distracted.” Tontaveetong received her degree in Thailand before deciding to get her bachelor’s from SCAD. The decision was fueled by the expanding boom of

productions that were taking place in the city, “I am also afraid of ghosts in Savannah,” Tontaveetong remarked. Rooted in a love for animation and the advancement of the industry, the two ended up attending SCAD and meeting shortly after. After numerous run-ins with each other, they still kept in touch after Yu’s graduation in 2012. When the Freelance Union Act in New York passed, Tontaveetong realized that Atlanta did not offer the same protections for its freelancers. Deciding to take some initiative, Tontaveetong sent out a thoughtful Facebook post asking for feedback on the subject. After quickly responding, Yu and Tontaveetong fully reunited after a series of When Harry Met Sally-style run-ins. The couple’s passion and Tontaveetong’s self-described “trickledown interest” connected the two. They were always discussing how to improve the animation industry, and after a

Guardians Of The Galaxy showing their relationship exploded with fireworks. Tontaveetong first found her way to ASIFA in 2014 working for ​​Allyssa Lewis and Fatima Abdullah who were President and Vice-President of the guild at the time. They both were leaving the organization and the fear of the organization shutting down was at hand. Tontaveetong decided to take it upon herself to keep the organization alive. She learned from Lewis and Abdullah everything she needed to know about running ASIFA. Slowly after that, Tontaveetong came to a realization, “There was no other animation guild in Atlanta. The big question was if you didn’t go to school, how would you connect to other animators? There was a need for it. If ASIFA didn’t continue then we wouldn’t have a community to go to.”

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Yu responded to that comment with, “ASIFA creates a community and through that community, people are able to meet some truly outstanding people and not only help each other, but make meaningful connections along the way.” The passion these two have for the industry is unparalleled. It’s obvious that their ethos is centered around education and the promotion of the industry that they both hold near and dear. Especially when it comes to expanding the industry by helping others who want to devote themselves to it. Currently, ASIFA is partnering with Re-imagine in a 9-month program meant for 18-23 year olds to learn the ins and outs of animation, as well as build up their portfolios for when they enter the workplace. These two, together, have also been pioneering the boom of animation in a COVID-19 world.

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It is not a secret that Georgia is significantly cheaper than Los Angeles and New York. Both locations have major studios and production houses. Georgia provides a weighty tax incentive as well as the aforementioned cheaper cost of living to catch up and provide more opportunities for its community. But what about when the world was shut down? “During COVID-19 a lot of live-action productions stalled, so studios decided to pivot towards animation and so animated content was something people wanted. Animation studios were able to pivot quickly as a lot of animators were able to work from home. There is a lot more animated content now,” Tontaveetong says. This is great for Atlanta animators since the pandemic forced people into remote work. This led to more and more studios hiring remotely out of state.

“Schools in Georgia such as SCAD, GSU, KSU have a lot more students come out, trained to do the work that they were trained to do.” Yu added that the merging of films with games has also aided in the production of content during the pandemic, “Series like ‘The Mandalorian’ use video game technology like Unreal Engine 2. An LED screen is around the set and the background is projected onto to screen to be put to use. This allows minimal production crew to be used away from the story. Using this technology allows studios to put out productions out on a steady pace.” Innovative ways to conduct business weren’t the only thing to come out of the pandemic, but the self-reflection of race in America did too. Several companies and studios made “Diversity Pledges,” which aimed to increase the inclusion of


BIPOC people(s) in the respective industry to combat the systemic biases that were keeping them out of their desired field, “During the shift of COVID-19, we’ve seen studios have this conversation of should they still come back to the regular workplace when the pandemic dies down. The question for me: is equality the same as equity? Are you reaching out enough for that diversity? What is your inclusion? Is it truly inclusive or exclusive? The pandemic showed the ability to accommodate. Businesses were able to accommodate quickly; that is the mindset that you have to have when you talk about inclusivity. When it is a necessity it is easy. Suddenly, they are able to move fast. When it is a necessity such as inclusion, time is the operative word.” Yu added to this by saying, “A lot more industries other than animation have been talking about this. It’s about more than the workforce. It’s about the leadership and the people representing the workforce themselves. It can’t just be the same group of caucasian people running the show. They usually only know about the issues that they are faced with. They probably would not know the issues of someone faced with income disparity. The other issue you are faced with is tokenism. They may indeed bring in people of color, but they may never actually deliver on those promises of equality-it all becomes lip service if not. So will policies change to accommodate these new workers?” Change is a pendulum constantly swinging back and forth. Right now the power is in the people or the workers whose voices are finally being listened to by the consequences of 2020. Referring

to the metaphor of the pendulum, it can swing right back in the direction of oppression. Yu added to his original answer with this nugget of knowledge: “If you want to preserve the gains, then you must do certain things. It requires a community. One, you have to get people into positions of power where they can affect meaningful and long-term change through legislation. Second, you have to get people at the problem who are willing to get out the vote. They need to be willing to go out and engage with community leaders to voice their concerns. Three, there needs to be a symbiotic relationship that bosses have with their employees. If any of those stonewalls, you will see these changes stall. There has been a meaningful change in various other areas, but that took time, and technology has facilitated that change as well.” The question that businesses have always considered is: “How can they spend less on labor?” It’s the basic rule in economics. Buy cheap, sell high. Fast food restaurants have even regressed to trying to hire high school workers or even going automatic with electronic boards who take your orders for you. The same principle applies to animation. Outsourcing animation has been a long-term solution to costly animation done in the United States. The only solution being brought to the table is showing the benefit that keeping the production in the state brings.

As Yu highlighted; time is the key factor in this equation. It will tell who means what they say, and if they say what they mean. It’s as I said before though; the love that these two have for each other and the industry is unquantifiable. To be as devoted to the work as these two are is awe-inspiring, let alone the fact that they want others to have access to this gem of an art form. Being able to see them in action is great. All I can say is that they give Beyonce and Jay-Z a run for their money.

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B Y :

S Y D N E E

M U T U K U

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hatejah George, a Georgia native from Clayton County, has always been interested in creating content. With over 192,000 followers on her YouTube channel and 4.6 million followers on Tik Tok, the 24-year-old is expanding her audience on all platforms. Like many aspiring young adults, she is a kid with a dream. Getting involved in the Film and Entertainment industry comes with challenges. Occasionally it can be easier for some more than others. Nevertheless, George is making a name for herself in the entertainment business. Whether it's directing her new TV show, "Swipers", or making viral Tik Toks, the young creator is constantly turning heads. Growing up, Chatejah's mother would constantly advise her about being open to trying new things. As children, we would hear that a lot but never know how important it is. "Keep working and don't give up," George said. "My mom would always tell me to try new things, and I never understood why. It's helpful because new opportunities come out of them when you try different things. I know that sounds cliché, but you may not know what you want to do in life. If you keep working and putting effort into things, you will eventually figure it out. That's what steered me to the film industry. I tried so many different things and had no idea if I would like them. I would not even be in this position if I didn't keep going. You must go outside of your comfort zone."

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Chatejah's passion for creating content has helped grow and promote her brand and audience. The young business owner has been uploading YouTube videos for almost ten years, totaling over 7 million views on her profile. Her YouTube videos range from short films to web series. After all that hard work, George has come a long way by always putting herself out there. Being a driven woman, Chatejah decided to take things into her own hands. Rather than waiting for the right moment to pursue her dreams, she acted on it. At 23- years old, George opened C&C Movie Film Studio in August 2021. The 20,000 sq foot studio is located in Morrow, Georgia, just 20 minutes from Atlanta. It has been a year since Chatejah held the grand opening of her studio, and since then, it has grown tremendously. Filmmakers and artists alike have booked with C&C Studios, catapulting George's career and name into the film and entertainment business. The studio now includes a salon, a classroom, an office, a hospital, a jail cell, and more. "I didn't have anywhere to film, so I just decided to open my own movie film studio," Chatejah said in a recent interview with CBS46 Atlanta. "There wasn't anywhere for me to film, especially

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for independent filmmakers. If there is somewhere to film it's very expensive. I wanted something affordable." Being a studio owner at 24 years old, Chatejah can offer creatives an affordable and high-quality space to book. Her struggle to find accessible studio spaces further motivated her to build her own. "Everyone knows me as a studio owner, but I opened it to create my own content. I want to share many ideas and messages with the world," George stated. Almost everyone can relate to challenges they have had to face while working. Whether it's feeling uninspired or unmotivated with their work, all artists have gone through shared experiences. However, overcoming these obstacles and coming out on the other side is what inspires others. George often gets her inspiration from hearing people's stories and how they got over them and persevered through. "I really love Tyler Perry's storyhe was homeless-which has motivated me a lot. Many people's stories inspire me because it makes me want to make movies about them. I like hearing people's backstories because everyone's struggles are different," George said. We all have had unique experiences and troubles we've had to deal with. Most

creatives draw inspiration from the people or environment around them. American actor Tyler Perry found his motivation to pursue a writing career from an episode on "The Oprah Winfrey Show". The artists in the film community inspire generations of filmmakers like Chatejah George. The film and entertainment industry can be difficult for women, especially when the business is highly maledominated in many aspects. For some women, this industry can be discouraging for various reasons. Women are told they have to work twice as hard to get a seat at the table. These situations can be tough but the future of filmmakers is evolving each year. This treatment of women does not slow George down from doing what she loves. Her discipline and passion for creating drive her to work harder and smarter. She shared her frustrations as a studio owner and a Black woman, saying: "One of the challenges is being surrounded by many men in this industry. This is a male-dominated industry, especially working at the studio; most of the clients that come in are men," She stated. "They don't always respect women, and I feel as if I was a man, they would respect me and follow the studio rules. Sometimes, it can be hard to follow the rules and listen, but not everybody is like that."


C&C Movie Film Studios is on the rise around the Atlanta community. Chatejah is taking the initiative in her career and becoming more popular as time goes on. The young creator has received acclaim from celebrities like American rapper and record executive Rick Ross to American filmmaker Ava DuVernay. DuVernay, known for Selma and 13th, replied to George on Twitter, "The next time I'm in Atlanta, I'm coming to see your studio and tour all your sets and your prop house. I'll enjoy taking in your vision. Congrats. And keep shinin'," DuVernay said. In June 2021, Rick Ross flew to Atlanta to meet Chatejah and tour the newly opened C&C studios. The new studio owner later posted on Instagram, "I just gave Rick Ross a tour at my Studios! He flew into town just to come to C&C Movie Film Studio. This is such a blessing!! This is amazing! You made my day. It was a pleasure hearing inspirational words and giving you a tour. We are going to produce a movie together. Casting calls are coming Soon," wrote George. "After Rick Ross visited C&C Studios, many people rented out the studio after that. As far as Ava DuVernay, I've gotten messages from many filmmakers," George said. "There are a lot of people on Twitter that follow me as well, from showrunners to producers. Ava helped my name get out there on the film side, and Rick Ross helped my name get out there on the music side. I've heard my name circulating in Hollywood as well." Since opening C&C Movie Film Studios, Chatejah has had a successful first year full of new experiences. The young businesswoman had the grand opening of C&C Studios with the support of Clayton County and many others. George has been featured in several articles, including Complex and Yahoo. She was able to upgrade to a bigger studio from 3,000 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft. In early March, Chatejah was given the entrepreneur HER award for being the youngest female movie film studio owner during the Glitz & Girlpower (G&G) awards.

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C&C Movie Film Studios also hosts panels for industry professionals to network with others. The "Industry Talk" event will allow individuals to get involved in the industry. The event panel will be a workshop for artists interested in getting into the music industry as directors, producers, filmmakers, and more. The most recent accomplishment for the studio is they're now offering new luxury cars and mansions in Atlanta available for booking. This is only the beginning of what Chatejah has in store for the future. The studio owner is grateful for all the support C&C Movie Film Studios has received so far. George's studio continues to exceed expectations while her sophistication in the entertainment business impresses crowds worldwide. "In the next five years, I see myself having a big network offering me a movie deal. I want to use this year to show off why I opened C&C Movie Film

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Studios," Chatejah stated. "I see myself producing films, getting them out there, and impacting the world. In films, I notice there is a lot of stuff lacking, especially from our Black community. I even want to branch out to different genres as well. I am working on it every single day." The independent filmmaker is becoming more versatile in her work. Branching out will allow George to become a more proficient artist. George's dedication will continue to inspire other young filmmakers like herself. Black filmmakers are making a considerable impact on the Black community, especially the younger generations. Her story will be uplifting and encouraging to adults around the world. George's successful career represents what the younger generation is capable of if they put their minds to it. "I just hope to inspire young Black kids and college students who want to be in the film business because it's really

hard, even for actors," George said in an interview with Complex. "I see many actors get discouraged because there's so much competition out there, and it's very tough to get into film." Owning a studio at 24 is already a notable achievement, and Chatejah is not slowing down anytime soon. Things are just getting started for George, and the film and entertainment community are excited to see what she does next. She is currently working on her web series, "Swipers". The hit series is written, produced, and directed by George. The engaging new show features the story of a group of friends who learned the concept of scamming but got caught up and are now facing serious charges. From creating sets for celebrities to going viral online, George continues to go above and beyond. .


"I DIDN'T HAVE ANYWHERE TO FILM, SO I JUST DECIDED TO OPEN MY OWN MOVIE FILM STUDIO." Chatejah George

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