Oz Magazine September / October 2021

Page 1


Mobile on-site testing platforms for schools and school districts from 50 to 2,000 tests per day Nasal CLIA certified lab RT-PCR (less than 24 hour results) Saliva CLIA certified lab PCR (less than 24 hour results) Rapid PCR via Abbott Laboratories ID-NOW (15 minute results) Rapid Antigen and Antibody Testing Also Available (10 minute results)

* All Testing is FDA Authorized (EUA) * Physician Owned and Managed * Trained and licensed staff * CLIA Certified High Complexity Labs - Nationwide * Rapid PCR and Lab based PCR testing available in all 50 states * Servicing ViacomCBS, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon (National Approved Vendor) * Netflix, Disney+, Indie Films, Award Shows, Super Bowl LIV productions * Testing thousands per week - Productions, School Districts, Restaurants, Corporations

TESTIMONIALS “Again, cannot say enough great things about you and RCL. We could NOT have done this show without you guys in Atlanta” (MTV Line Producer) “Throughout the season, we did probably 10,000 tests. They aren’t a company that’s trying to capitalize on this virus and make money - they are a company that’s trying to keep people safe and change the course of this pandemic through early detection and isolation. I’m proud to know them and work with them, and I feel there’s no chance you can find a better company during this extremely challenging time.” (CBS Line Producer) Currently Managing Covid healthcare for movie and television productions in Atlanta, North Carolina, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and Austin

September / October 2021




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

September / October 2021





Cover story: Making An Animation, p.32 Miranda Perez is a VC/Startups Fellow at Business Insider. Prior to graduating from Clark Atlanta University with a degree in Mass Media Arts, Miranda got her foot in journalism through freelancing. As a freelancer, she covers HBCUs, politics, social issues and local news in Atlanta as well as in her hometown, Chicago.

B. Sonenreich

Shady Radical A.A., B.A., M.A., CA


Tia Powell (Group Publisher)


Kris Thimmesch

Creative Director Michael R. Eilers

Production and Design Christopher Winley Michael R. Eilers

Contributing Editors Adrena Walton Lola Bessoff


Image Courtesy of FOX

Feature Story: From Concept to Cartoon, p.38 shady R. Radical is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Film, Media and Theatre at Georgia State University (GSU). She teaches Race and Representation in Film & amp; TV; Documenting Performance; and The History of Film at GSU. Her research in issues of Black preservation and background in film and television informs her work on performance and contemporary Black production art practices.

Richard Sapeta Feature Story: Cosplay the Georgia Way, p.48 Richard Sapeta is a techy, musician and all-purpose nerd currently living in the heart of Atlanta. After receiving his Bachelor's degree in computer science, Richard began working in the tech field by day; by night, he immerses himself in fantasy worlds through video games, esports, movies and animated series.


Emily Foley Feature Story: The Lifespan of A Game, p.54 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. 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 © 2021 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Christopher Campbell Feature Story: The Strategy Guide to Making It as A Voiceover Actor, p.58 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

Alexa Rachelle Jennings Feature Story: The Ever-Changing Future of Education, p.64 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.








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

The Lifespan of a Game



SMITE Director, A.J. Walker, breaks down the timeline to making a game



COVER STORY Making An Animation:


From Concept to Distribution

The Strategy Guide to Making it as a VO Actor




FEATURE STORY From Concept to Cartoon Pathways Into Atlanta's Animation Industry


Insider tips and tricks to break into the business


The Ever-Changing Future of Education


Gaming as a tool for child development

FEATURE STORY Collaborative Creations at SCAD University A discussion with SCAD Animation Studio



58 64


What's In My Gaming Den?

70 72

72 What's Next for Georgia?

Cosplay the Georgia Way A Q&A with cosplay company owner, Barr Foxx



74 The Georgia Gaming Industry Levels Up

September / October 2021


OzCetera Hope Givers receives grant from GCA

Hope Givers receives grant from Georgia Council for the Arts


eorgia-based grant givers and film company, Hope Givers, was awarded a grant by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA), a division in the Georgia Department of Economic Development, as part of its initial disbursement of grants for the fiscal year 2022. Two hundred eighteen organizations received 266 grants that provided more than $2 million to fund art organizations. The Project Grant will help fund 54 art projects, and the Arts Education Program Grant was distributed to 77 organizations. All other additional grants for Vibrant Communities and Cultural Facility programs received awards in the Fall of 2021. “As we emerge from this past year’s quarantine, the arts sector is vital to


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

restarting the economy by attracting tourists, assisting with classroom learning, and igniting events to bring communities back together,” GCA Executive Director, Tina Lilly, said. “The 266 grants we have awarded will help cities and organizations leverage additional funds and bring people back to work while providing fun and educational opportunities for Georgians across the state.” The Georgia Council for the Ar ts follows the standard practices given by the National Endowment for the Arts, using peer review panels to review and judge applications. Judges are a part of the GCA Council and specialists experienced in the arts discipline or grants being reviewed. “We are thrilled to be partnered with

the Georgia Council for the Arts,” Tamlin Hall, Executive Producer/CEO of Hope Givers, said. “The GCFA grant will allow us to further our reach in highlighting uplifting stories of hope and resilience across the State of Georgia through our Hope Givers educational series. Covid19 created a growing demand for mental health resources for young people. It is an honor to be working with Georgia Public Broadcasting and Georgia Department of Education in providing new and exciting arts-based mental wellness content free of charge to almost 2 million educators and students across the state.”

September / October 2021



Eclipse Creative, Inc. Uproots Sustainable Backyard Farming in Discovery+ series “Homegrown”

Screengrab from Discovery+ series “Homegrown”


clipse Creative, Inc., an Atlanta-based team of passionate storytellers, is proud to announce the launch of “Homegrown” on Magnolia Net work and Discovery+. Executive produced by Jennifer Mador and Showrunner Nicole Chiulli, the new series follows Atlantabased farmer Jamila Norman. Norman helps families transform their ordinary, urban backyards into sustainable working farms. With the help of her background in environmental engineering, Norman shares her knowledge on everything from raising city chickens and honeybees to composting and growing fresh fruits and vegetables. “Homegrown” transports viewers out of their homes as they watch families with a love for gardening find their green thumb.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

“'Homegrown' is the per fect combination of beautiful transformations, entertainment, and comfort. It truly gives viewers a sense of connection; to the source of their food, nature, and family,” Mador, Show Creator, Executive Producer and one of the Founding Partners of Eclipse Creative, Inc. said. “In what’s been an extreme time of uncertainty, we are proud to create something empowering that encourages viewers to try something new and rewarding. We look forward to the series launch and can’t wait to see what this will inspire.”

Ea c h e p i s o d e fo c u s e s o n c re a t i ve solutions for reconstruc ting unique landscapes into beautiful, lush gardens. V iewer s w ill mas ter how to create sustainable gardens and understand the benefits of this lifestyle, including healthier options and fewer trips to the grocery store. The takeaway from each episode of “Homegrown” will be centered around virtues learned through backyard farming, such as patience, balance, and rejuvenation.

September / October 2021



Atlanta-based Stream MOKO Disrupts Docu-Reality Industry with “Feel Good” Content and Philanthropy


tlanta-based Stream MOKO is a brand new streaming platform featuring curated uplifting and inspiring content as well as original shows designed to help viewers live their best lives. F i f t y to p inf lu encer s an d majo r celebrities are already on board to create 10 -minute content blocks for Stream MOKO. This gave the platform over 100 million cumulative followers from day one. The stars of Stream MOKO are your favorite influencers who have earned millions of followers by producing high quality content that draws viewers in. “As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, people are looking for an antidote to all of the divisive, depressing news, so we’re giving them a one-stopshop for feel-good videos to actually improve their mental health and wellbeing,” Founder and CEO, Thomas Cantley, noted. “Positivity has the power to change lives, and we need it now more than ever.” Cantley believes in the power of

positivity so much that he has embedded philanthropy into Stream MOKO’s core mission. The company will donate a full 20% of every subscription to charity. “This has never been done before, and I’m not budging from it,” Cantley said. “We’ll be partnering with some well-known charities like the Special Olympics as well as supporting smaller causes where we can have a really big impact.” Imagine a space where viewers can feel good from our content and do good with their subscription. Cantley projects donating over $100 million to charity in the next few years. Known for his ability to bring people together to make magic happen, Cantley has assembled an all-star team, including Amy Emmerich, former Global President and Chief Content Officer at Refinery 29. Emmerich is a visionary media executive with a 25-year track record of innovation, leadership, and Emmy-winning original content for brands including HBO, MTV Net works, Travel Channel, and Vice

Media. “We’re not Neflix or Hulu, and we’re not Instagram,” Cantley explained. “We’re disrupting the market with our mood boosting content, our price point and our charitable element. There’s nothing else like this.” No stranger to doing things differently, Cantley made a name for himself generating awareness for the fight against testicular cancer. After his diagnosis, he traveled 8,000 miles with his dog and a giant 6-foot testicle named Lefty. On a mission dubbed Ballsy, the trio trekked across two countries educating, inspiring and bringing attention to the disease. Stream MOKO has already received its first VC round and is entering the next funding phase. Partnering with Shadow Creative Studios, as well as investors like K&M Venture Capital Group, the platform plans a launch in late October.

Production Supplies -drafting furniture rentals -foamboard & gatorboard -seamless paper -printing paper -tapes & adhesives -sp paint & more! -spray

1495 Northside Drive Suites B & C. Atlanta, GA 30318 E-mail: customerservice@flaxatl.com | 404.352.7200 10

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Entertainment & Production Travel


GA Certified Travel Agency - Local Staa & Local OOice Superior customer service coupled with the most advanced technology available - managing reservations, expenses, unused ticket credits and travel logistics.

3355 Lenox Rd, suite 750 Atlanta, GA 30302

Taylor blocking a shot with dance leader, choreographer and team captain Leland Thrope

404-751-2933 | films@goctm.com | goctm.com

• Experienced Production Travel Specialists, 30+ years experience • VIP Services, airline reward programs, entertainment travel discounts • Online booking for lower cost and 24/7 reservation access • On-demand accounting services for retrieving itineraries

The ultimate resoures for today’s connected traveler.

September / October 2021


OzCetera Peach Jam Pictures Founders Jonothon Mitchell & Madison Hatfield. Photo by Lola Scott

RoleCall Acquires Local Production Company


tlanta-based entertainment software and theater company, RoleCall, today announced that the company has recently acquired produc tion company Peach Jam Pictures led by local filmmaking team Jonothon Mitchell and Madison Hatfield. This acquisition further strengthens RoleCall’s mission to empower local, independent filmmakers and playwrights by democratizing access to the resources and platforms needed to share their stories. Peach Jam and RoleCall first teamed up earlier this year with the back-to-back feature film productions of Miles From Nowhere and Courtney Gets Possessed and haven’t looked back, with three more short films finishing production by the end of August 2021. Prior to working with RoleCall, Peach Jam had produced notable work including “Jenna Gets an Abortion” and “Pageant Material.” Mitchell and Hatfield strive to create work that invites audiences into worlds made vibrant by love and hope but also subject to the sharper edges of reality. They center underrepresented voices and


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

believe that specificity of perspective is the most powerful invitation to genuine empathy and human connection. “ We are honored and excited to partner with an organization that shares our vision for Atlanta: a creative city that holds its own with any film market in the world,” Hatfield said. “With RoleCall, we hope to both create prolifically ourselves and also inspire others around the South to tell their stories right here at home. When we lift up, learn from, and collaborate with each other, we know that anything is possible, especially with the rich film community that has taken root here.” While the partnership began producing work from Mitchell and Hatfield, the future of Peach Jam and RoleCall is in the discovery, support, and development of new, emerging voices within the Atlanta film community. The trio plans to work alongside creators to curate and develop work from scratch. “ The develop ment asp ec t is by far the most exciting prospect of this partnership,” Mitchell said. “I’ve always been a champion of the content born

and bred in Atlanta and I am ecstatic to work alongside Stephen and the RoleCall team to support new voices in new genres in an effort to help further develop the incredible talent within our city.” Mitchell also serves as a board member for Film Impact Georgia. RoleCall was founded in 2018 by Stephen Beehler with the launch of their indie-friendly production logistics software, followed by the opening of RoleCall Theater at Ponce City Market in February of 2020. RoleCall strives to fuse art and technology - allowing for a more transparent, consistent and scalable approach to narrative storytelling. “Independent film should be anything but independent,” Beehler said. “It takes a talented, devoted group of people to create a compelling film and RoleCall is excited to add two of Atlanta’s strongest filmmakers, Jonothon and Madison, to the RoleCall team. Together we’ll continue to streamline our process of creating highconcept, commercially viable films that showcase meaningful stories.”

September / October 2021



The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Southeast Chapter Announces 2020-2021 Gold and Silver Circle Inductees


he National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Southeast Chapter (NATAS SE) recently announced the inductees for the 2020 and 2021 Gold & Silver Circles. The Silver and Gold Circles are societies of honor that recognize careers dedicated to the advancement of the television and digital media industry. Induction is a milestone reserved for professionals who have done more than witness change within an industry: they’ve led it. “Induction into the Gold and Silver Circles is a tremendous accomplishment. Because the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to postpone last year’s gala, we are thrilled to honor both 2020 and 2021 recipients this year,” NATAS SE President,


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Evelyn Mims, said. This year’s induction ceremony will honor fourteen individuals from across the Southeast region. The 2020-21 Silver Circle represents news and television professionals with 25 or more years of experience leading and innovating in service of their communities. Honorees include Alvin Br yant ( WSB -T V ), Ray Carter (WSB-TV), Gianncarlo Cifuentes (Univision), Deborah Collura (WGCL-TV), Bill Hartman (WAGA-TV), Chris Holcomb (WXIA-TV), Karen Minton (WSB-TV), Vicki Montet (CNN Newsource), Jon Nelson (GPB), Tai Takahashi (WJTV/WHLT), and Bill Walsh (WLNE-TV). The G old Circle is a dis t inc t ion reserved for those who have dedicated

50 or more years pioneering, advancing, and serving the industry and the public. This year’s Gold circle inductees are Billye Aaron (TV Pioneer), Xernona Clayton (TV Pioneer), and Eric Land (ABC33/40). Gold and Silver Circle inductees are nominated by their peers from across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina. A special selection committee within NATAS SE chooses each annual class. The 202021 Gold and Silver Circle inductees were honored at the NATAS SE Induc tion Ceremony hosted by WSB-TV’s Jorge Estevez on September 10 at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead.

September / October 2021


OzCetera Skillshot Event



killshot Media, a top Atlanta-based esports provider, is bringing a new, extensive gaming hub to the city of Atlanta. Uptown Atlanta, formerly known as the Lindbergh City Center, is a 47 acre mixed-use community that will soon be home to a Skillshot Media production studio, collaborative learning center, and retail space as Skillshot relocates its office and studios from Alpharetta to Uptown. The planned esports classrooms and


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

production studio will occupy a 5,000 square foot area. This launch will also include the transition from 35,000 square foot office atrium to a premier venue for esports events, which is said to be capable of hosting 300 - 400 gamers in-person. Under the leadership of CEO Todd Harris, Skillshot will help in programming the new-and-improved atrium, with new digital infrastructure powering a massive

LED screen for live streaming, connecting millions of gamers around the world to its venue. Skillshot’s official peripheral partner in this project, HyperX, will outfit Skillshot with a range of high quality products such as headsets, keyboards, mice, and microphones to provide the best experience for future gamers at this highly-connected hub.


YANCEY IS GEARED UP! Supporting Georgia and family-owned businesses is more important than ever. We’ve lived through some tough times but Georgia will prevail! We are committed to the success of our customers and will be ready to help you every step of the way!






September / October 2021




HEAVY LIFTING (678) 855-8075



photograph by Vaughn Gittens

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Returned to the Big Screen in North Metro Mini-fest


Time for Fall Blockbuster Movies! You zoom in on your shots, we zoom in on your tax and accounting needs.

Are you a start up production company? Are you an independent contractor? We specialize in helping people just like you. The Experts in Tax and Accounting Services for the Film and TV Industry.

Contact Us (770) 691-1229 WWW.FRICKECPA.COM 18

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

he Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) returned to the movie theater for the first time in 18 months with AJFF North, a mini-festival that occured from August 28-29. The festival combined in-theater and virtual screenings, made possible by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta through their “Making Jewish Places” initiative. AJFF North brought the best in Jewish cinema directly to residents of Alpharetta, East Cobb, Johns Creek, Roswell, and surrounding North Metro communities. Moviegoers enjoyed a diverse range of dramas, documentaries, family-friendly fare, a Hollywood classic comedy, and even short films in a series of screenings at the Aurora Cineplex in Roswell, as well as via streaming in the AJFF Virtual Cinema. In-person screenings at the Aurora Cineplex represented the festival’s first return to movie theaters since February 2020, and provided an opportunity for audiences to rediscover the joy of seeing films back on the big screen, as AJFF continues to plan for a larger theatrical experience at next year’s 22nd edition of the annual festival in February 2022. “We’re thrilled to be the official venue for AJFF North,” Barbara Scoggins, Operations Manager of the Aurora Cineplex, said. “As the world starts going back to the movies, community events like this one provide us an opportunity to serve film lovers in the North Atlanta metro area and beyond.” As AJFF continues to prioritize the safety of audiences and staff, organizers followed COVID protocols in accordance with CDC and local guidelines, as well as their theater partners. This included measures to encourage all audiences to wear masks inside the theatre venue, as well as social distancing during entry and exit from the theatre. “After nearly two years of planning with our partners at Jewish Federation and community volunteers, AJFF North is a milestone initiative that both welcomes audiences back to theaters while also serving fans in North Metro neighborhoods,” AJFF Executive Director, Kenny Blank, said. “AJFF has always taken care to listen to the needs of the community, and this mini-festival further provides an opportunity to understand how the moviegoing experience will evolve as we plan for next year’s annual festival and beyond.”

September / October 2021






aul Williams came to public attention after the release of the internationally acclaimed film Slam, which he co-wrote and starred in. Slam introduced the world to the slam poetry movement and won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera D’Or in 1998. Williams, a Morehouse graduate, now stars in AKILLA’S ESCAPE, where he plays Akilla, who navigates the criminal underworld of Toronto after a robbery gone awry. AKILLA’S ESCAPE weaves the present and past in a crime-noir about the urban child-soldier,” Director, Charles Officer,



tlanta-based filmmaker, Don-Dimitri Joseph, created “Sight of the Sun,” a mini series focusing on love, faith and the unknown. Joseph chose to distribute the series on TikTok because it challenged him to tell his story in episodes that were concise and poignant (all episodes are less than a minute long). The series stars Georgia-based actors, Tamara Stackhouse, MonA Hayslet t, Renee M. White, Jordan Montour, and Ricky Ferretiz. “I wanted to make a project that I can release on the internet where I wouldn’t have to wait a long time to release because of a festival run,” Joseph told Oz, “All the actors are Georgia-based which is amazing. Tamara, MonA, and Renee have been acting for quite some time and they’re super talented actresses that I believe are on the verge of breakthrough.” Joseph is currently working in pre-production for a film in the thriller genre.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

said. “In the spirit of the Iliad, the ancient Greek poem by Homer, AKILLA’S ESCAPE chronicles the politics behind violence, the humanity that is destroyed, and what is worth fighting for. Akilla is a play on Achilles, the Greek warrior central to the Iliad set during the Trojan War.” AKILLA’S ESCAPE is a moving art piece which presents an alternative definition to the media’s portrayal of Black masculinity. The film has been officially selected by Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and is the winner of five Canadian Screen Awards.


illiam Shatner and Oscar-nominated actors, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, plus household loved voice artists like Rob Paulsen (“Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs”), plus David Ramsey, Alex Kingston, and Zachary Levi, lead a long list of celebrity guests who appeared at the 35th annual Dragon Con this September. Dragon Con is Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy, science fiction, and gaming convention that takes place on Labor Day weekend. An estimated 42,000 people attended the conference for a fiveday Labor Day weekend experience, with events and activities across AmericasMart Buildings One and Two and five host hotels including Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta.

A l s o a m o n g s t t h e m a ny g u e s t s returning to Dragon Con were Ross Marquand, Nadia Hilker, and Dan Fogler of the Georgia-lensed and beloved horror series “The Walking Dead.” T h e COV I D -1 9 s a f e t y p r o to co l s included a requirement that all fans wore a mask while indoors in a convention venue, reduced attendance during the convention by reducing the number of memberships available for sale before the convention, reduced room capacities in ballrooms, panel rooms, and other programming spaces, and increased cleaning and sanitation throughout the venues. Other changes were designed to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow, and increase personal spacing within the convention venues.

September / October 2021



Let’s Make Something




Backdrops • Dimensional Graphics • Custom Props • Fabrication • Installations • Vehicle Wraps • Small & Wide Format Digital Printing • Enviromental Graphics

We Make Concepts A Reality


(470) 428-3185

Server Racks Laboratory Security Paperwork Cases/Crates

Nautical Industrial Electronics Automotive Wire/Hose



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Prison/Jail Tanks Antiques Graphics Lighting

avannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) presented its fifth annual SCAD AnimationFest, presented by SCADFILM in late September. The signature festival returned in a virtual format, featuring three days of special guests and screenings, presentations and panels with titans of animation, and a curated showcase of excellence in student work. Additionally, SCAD AnimationFest 2021 granted global access to creative geniuses in industry behind animation, visual effects, motion media design, and gaming content across all genres and platforms. A highlight of SCAD AnimationFest was the premiere of standout collaborative student work. Two animated feature films from SCAD Animation Studios, “Hex Limit'' in 3D and “The Pope’s Dog” in 2D, will be shown along with inspiring sessions with breakout SCAD alumni who are leaders in their creative careers. "SCAD is home to SCAD Animation Studios, the world's only animation studio housed at an elite university, where students write, perform, and animate 2D and 3D films,” SCAD President and Founder, Paula Wallace, said. “To see SCAD's latest releases—’Hex Limit’ and ‘The Pope's Dog’—and enjoy a comprehensive look at every thing SCAD offers future animators (including IMDB credits before graduation!), SCAD AnimationFest is THE place to be this September." AnimationFest also featured content and panels with visionary industry notables from the world’s top animation entertainment studios such as Nickelodeon, Fox Animation Domination, Star Trek: Prodigy and Harper House from Paramount+, Bento Box, and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. “Our festival programming celebrates the explosive growth of the animation industry and SCAD's role in preparing talent across all the disciplines that contribute to this transformative art form,” Senior Executive Director of SCADFILM, Leigh Seaman, added. “At SCADFILM, we illuminate the opportunities for artists in any medium to find success in the entertainment business, and animation offers opportunities galore. We look forward to welcoming guests from major studios and production companies to talk about trends and take us behind the scenes of some of this year's most anticipated animated content.” The curated programming for the festival represented the expertise and excellence of the university’s top ranked degree programs from the Schools of Digital Media and Entertainment Arts. Animation has exploded in popularity in recent years and has become one of the largest of SCAD’s preeminent degree programs. SCAD’s animation program is regarded globally as a best-in-class program for preparation of a growing field that encompasses film, television, interactive media and video games.

September / October 2021


OzCetera Melissa Simpson and Molly Coffee



reviously known as the MilledgevilleEatonton Film Festival, the ME Film Fes ti val announced new dates and a new location for screenings. The 8th annual ME Film Festival will be taking place on November 15 - 21 in Eatonton. Screenings will be shown at the Plaza Arts Center located in downtown Eatonton. The festival will be in-person with live screenings, industry panels, afterparties, and special filmmaker events. “We are thrilled the festival [is coming to Eatonton],” President of EatontonPutnam Chamber of Commerce, Maggi Milner, said. “We have seen an increase in interest and production of filming over the past year alone, so we are continuing to get on folks’ radar. Hosting the ME Film Festival only supports how ‘camera read’ we are. I hope to showcase that not only can you film here, but you can screen here as well.” Scenes from one of Holly wood’s comedic early 1990s movies, My Cousin Vinny, were filmed in Eatonton, in addition to the Fox drama, “The Resident.” Over the last few years, Eatonton has grown to be a highly desired location for the film and television industry. “ Ea to n to n h a s a r i c h h i s to r y of supporting the arts,” President and Chair of the Board for the ME Film Festival, Jeremiah Bennett, said. “It’s an honor to hold the festival in the birthplace of Alice Walker, and we are thrilled to partner with the city of Eatonton and Putnam county to present the best edition of the festival yet!”

@queenies_consignment @Queenies Consignment Film Friendly! Private appointments available for Film & Television Crew


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990



his summer, Film Impact Georgia (FIG), the non-profit organization for independent filmmakers in the state, held the first annual “Summer Screening'' event. This was the first in-person event FIG has hosted since the COVID -19 pandemic shut down live functions. The screening was held at RoleCall Theater in Ponce City Market and featured previous FIG film grant winners, as well as a curated selection of shorts also made in Georgia. There was plenty of opportunity for industry networking while maintaining safety protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19. "This new event [showcased] our previous short film grant winners and [gave] our audience a chance to learn about what FIG has in store for the future,”

Summer Screening organizer and FIG Board Member, Raymond Carr, said. Par t of the intention behind the in-person event was to not only showcase, but also to re-acquaint the community with FIG’s mission to boost the independent f ilmmaking scene in Georgia. Grant winners like Lev Omelchenko (“A Song for Echo”), were able to show their work and discuss their process and experience with the attendees at RoleCall. “We [were] excited for our first in person event to be an opportunity to showcase the amazing work of our grant finalists,” FIG Creative Director, Molly Coffee, added. “We [were] also excited for our partnership with RoleCall for the event. This really feels like we are turning a corner for our community."

Queenies’ specializes in high-end women’s fashion and accessories, trendy furniture and home accents. Over 2,000 wonderful consignors who bring new inventory daily! 2755 Lavista Rd. Decatur, GA 30033 (404) 670-2226


September / October 2021






fter six incredibly successful years of strong occupancy, hosting media giants such as Warner Brothers, NBC, Netflix, and more, Third Rail Studios is now under the ownership of Gray Television upon the finalization of a deal this week. “We set out to make Third Rail Studios a special, welcoming place for our productions as well as a catalyst for good in the community. We’re happy that we’ve exceeded those goals and are passing the torch on a high note,” Third Rail Studios President, Dan Rosenfelt, said. Third Rail Studios became a catalyst for change in the Doraville community. The film center sparked economic growth and development and provided high paying jobs in the area, gave a significant amount of funding back to the state and surrounding communities in terms of charity, service, and education, and was the first vertical development at the Assembly - supporting the city’s tax base to pay for local roads and streets. “As one of the owners and developers of Third Rail Studios, I am proud of what Dan and I accomplished over the last six years. Not only was Third Rail a successful real estate investment, but it drove economic activity and job creation both locally and for the state of Georgia,” Capstone South President, Michael Hahn, said. “When I first became involved in film studio development in 2021, I never dreamt that the industry would mature and flourish the way it has. I’ve witnessed not only film and television physical production become firmly established in Georgia, but an entire film and television industry grow around the stage infrastructure. It will be exciting to see what the next ten years brings to Georgia in terms of jobs and additional economic activity.” Capstone South and Third Rail Studios will be passing Gray Television a very advantageous position, as it already finalized a strategic partnership deal with Apple. “Dan and Michael have a track record of leveraging their business prowess in the film industry to bring jobs and development to DeKalb County. Following the sale of Third Rail Studios, I am confident that DeKalb County will continue to benefit in terms of jobs and overall growth thanks to their proven entrepreneurial track record. We are looking forward to seeing what’s ahead,” DeKalb County Commissioner, Robert Patrick, District 1, added. Rosenfelt and Hahn have also formed a new studio development and operations partnership. They plan to continue to use their extensive network to bring unique film and television development projects to Georgia.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Darryl’s Entertainment practice includes the representation of on-camera personalities, production companies, actors, photographers, musicians, songwriters, producers, models, and talent agencies. In the area of Criminal Defense, with over fty years of expertise, he has represented the entire spectrum of clients. Many of his clients and cases are a high-proole entertainment-related cases covered by the national media.

Complementing his legal practice, Darryl frequently appears as a guest commentator and legal expert on local and national news/news-related programming, including Court TV, e Nancy Grace Show, and local network affiliates. He is also a past chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Darryl’s Hospitality practice includes the representation of meeting planners, hotel reps, and rep destination management companies (DMCs).

3330 Cumberland Boulevard, SE Suite 600 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 Phone: 678.483.1900



September / October 2021


OzCetera Smile Little Ladybug



m i l e Li t t l e L a d y b u g” i s a s h o r t documentary film about a Holocaust survivor who unintentionally inspires his daughter and granddaughter to become clowns. The film follows three generations of this wacky and inspiring family from Nazi Germany, to Jim Crow Alabama, to Atlanta today. The mission of this film is to spread the message of “Tikkun Olam,” the pursuit of repairing the world. Filmmakers Laura A sherman, (Director, American Hasi (2019), The Home Team (2019)), Michele Lombardi (Producer, Assassinaut (2019), Science


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Team (2012)) and Sarah Cohen (Executive Producer, World Alumni LINK! (2021), Mau Yatu Nkani Yanga (2020)) are deep in the telling of this heartwarming story. As their documentary production journey comes to a close, they are reaching out to their community to get to the finish line. September 13th, 2021 marks the first day of their 30-day Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign which offers an open invitation to “put on your heart-shaped glasses” and help share this inspiring story with the world. The filmmakers are offering incentives including digital copies of the film, original

ar t by Miss Ladybug, and Executive Producer credits. Their $7,000 raise will cover editing, animation, color, original composition, and sound design. They are planning several unique screening oppor tunities such as facilitated intergenerational workshops and Jewish and regional film festivals. The filmmakers and star, Andrea Zoppo, are partnering with the Kennesaw State Museum of Histor y and Holocaust Education to develop an accompanying curriculum to share “Smile Little Ladybug” with middle school students around the Southeast.

MFF board member Jim Crisp & Lynne Ashe

The Atlanta Workshop Players Celebrate 40 Years Producing Socially Responsible Performing Arts


or the past 40 years, Atlanta has been watching tens of thousands of amazing, brilliant performers evolve into socially responsible citizens of the world. Atlanta Workshop Players’ Founder and Executive Director, Lynn Stallings, learned a long time ago, that if people can learn to hate, you can certainly teach people to love. That is what AWP set out to do 40 years ago with no end in sight. A ripple effect has been created that has reached a multitude of lives. 2021 has become a year of celebrations in honor of AWP’s 40th Anniversary. July featured a reunion weekend of events. AWP alumni, indus tr y professionals and friends gathered to reminisce and celebrate a very special, shared time of life, and pave the way for thousands more to experience the performing arts in a joyful, non-competitive, meaningful, socially conscious way through scholarships and powerful productions. The rest of the year will feature celebrity workshops, full-scale theatrical productions, a documentary exploring the journey of a vibrant , immigrant community and the production of multiple film shorts. AWP is celebrating are with a purpose. The Atlanta Workshop Players’ motto is, “Kids changing the world one audience at a time.” With the realization that the entertainment Industry is powerful and people are listening, it makes perfect sense to use that power for good.

Official selection narrative feature film THORP. Writer, star Walker Hare and producer Liz Printz



n late August, Macon Film Festival hosted a hybrid event, blending in-person and virtual screenings. The festival included more than six t y independent f ilms, including documentar y feature films, shorts, narrative shorts, LGBTQIA+ shorts, and Georgia local shorts. Patrons were able to stream the s u b m i s s i o n s o n t h e f i l m f e s t i v a l ’s streaming platform, FilmFestivalFlix. com. The hybrid event was a proactive response to the COVID-19 safety protocols implemented with the 2020 festival. With safety protocols in place, in-person film screenings were helds at Macon’s historic Douglass Theatre, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the planetarium at the city’s Museum of Art & Sciences. The in-person portion of the event was wrapped up with a special screening of One of These Days, directed by Bastian G unther and s tarring Macon native and Emmy Award winning actor, Carrie Preston. One of These Days takes place

in a small Texas town during an annual endurance contest called Hands On, where contestants try to outlast each other to win a pickup truck. Based on a true story, the film artfully depicts the drama behind a chance of a lifetime event that ends in a real tragedy. A standout at the festival was “G eorgia Made,” a narrati ve shor t s block with the focus on Georgia films and filmmakers. Included in this block were Alex Parkinson’s “Divorce Story,” Megan Hayes’ “Perchance to Dream,” Olamma Oparah’s “Laundry Day,” Ryan Blount’s “Disturbance,” Chris Stanford’s “Brothers Blood,” Lee Bailey’s “Armistice,” James Faucet t ’s “Complicated,” and Chase Gutzmore’s “Standing Ovation.” Filmmakers who attended the in-person block were able to answer questions in a post-viewing talkback with the audience and their fellow filmmakers.

September / October 2021


OzCetera Dreamhack 2019. Photos courtesy of Tyler Hawk

Cosplay at Dreamhack 2019. Photos courtesy of Tyler Hawk



reamHack Atlanta, a gaming lifestyle experience where the community comes to life, was originally scheduled to be an in-person event in November; however, in light of the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the virus, DreamHack has made the tough decision to postpone the event to 2022. “DreamHack creates an arena where you can come to connect, explore, win, play a par t, and be yourself through


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

a gaming lifestyle experience - so to p os t p one At lan t a was not an eas y decision,” President of DreamHack and Senior Vice President of Project and Event Operations at ESL Gaming, Marcus Lindmark, said. “Gaming brought and kept us together over the last year and a half and it will continue to do so until we return. “All of us at DreamHack stay committed to providing our fans and followers with great experiences, even if it needs to continue in an alternate format for now,”

Vice President of Festivals at DreamHack, Bas Bruinekool, added. “We know this decision is heartbreaking, but these are extraordinary times all over the world. The safety and health of everyone involved has never been more important to us than now.” DreamHack Atlanta 2022 is slated to be announced on DreamHack Day in December 2021.

Autumn Bailey- Ford

Sara Finney Johnson

Priah Ferguson

Sheila Ducksworth

Wonya Lucas



ive distinguished women of color who perform with excellence in front of and behind the lens were named recipients of the 2021 BronzeLens Women SuperStars Awards in late August. BronzeLens Film Festival of Atlanta, Georgia is a non-profit organization, founded in 2009, dedicated to bringing national and worldwide at tention to Atlanta as a center for f ilm and f ilm production for and by people of color. The 2021 BronzeLens Women Superstars include Producer and

Founder of Autumn Bailey Entertainment, Autumn Bailey-Ford (Maynard, Mine 9, Trading Paint), President of CBS/NAACP Production Venture, Sheila Ducksworth, Ac tress, Priah Ferguson ( “ Stranger Things,” “Atlanta”), Veteran writer and television Executive Producer, Sara Finney-Johnson (“Queen Sugar,” “Family Matters,” “The Parkers”), and President and Chief Executive Officer of Crown Media Family Networks, Wonya Lucas (Hallmark). The BronzeLens Women SuperStars

Award was created in 2010 to recognize the nation’s most talented and influential women of color in film and television. It has evolved to become a groundbreaking event within the festival that serves as inspiration for women from all walks of life. Since its inception, 52 women of color in the film and television industry have received the award. Amongst them are Julie Dash, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Queen Latifah, Neema Barnette, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and more.

September / October 2021


Cover story


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

FROM CONCEPT TO DISTRIBUTION BY: B. SONE NRE ICH & M I R AN DA PE RE Z Emmy nominated Animation Director, Jason Shwartz, is responsible for bringing stories to life at Bento-Box, an animation studio based in Atlanta and Los Angeles. He works with dozens of ambitious artists across the entire animation pipeline. Through storyboards, editorial, background design, character design, animation, and composite, Shwartz directly guides artists to animate meaningful stories. In order to better understand the facets that go into making an animation, Oz interviewed Shwartz on a variety of topics, from the research put into conceptualizing an animation to the lifespan of an animation after its distribution.

September / October 2021




How do you under stand t he con t en t be fore an i m at i ng? As a director, reviewing the script and meeting with the writer usually sets us up with a good framework for understanding their desires for the world they have created. Depending on the network or demographic, we will also review other similar shows or current trends and see if there are certain design elements we can draw from. Oftentimes I try to find a specific artist's style, whether in the studio or something that's inspired me in my life, to help draw out the initial visual language of the piece. Casting and hearing the voices for the animated characters can also help determine the visual look of the character design. Every show has a 34

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

different visual language and challenge but that's something our artists excel at!

What re se arch goe s i n to bre ak i ng down t he i de al de mogr aphic ? As we are animators focused on production, that information typically comes from the platforms and/or studios we’re working with.

When re se archi ng, what ot her ke y de tai l s abou t t he topic are re le van t be fore an i m at i ng? It's important to do research before designing and animating a new project. Whatever we create has to feel and look

true. If a script takes place in another time or planet or culture, it's important to spend time researching those things so that it feels authentic on screen Additionally, a love story is composed, lit, shot and directed completely differently than an action movie. Animators are also filmmakers, and we must be aware of the different tools of filmmaking at our disposal to set the correct tone for the piece.

Wh at sof t ware i s use d to de sign t he an i m at ions? We use a completely digital pipeline at Bento Box, meaning everything is done on the computer. We use Toonboom Harmony for all our animation. We also use Photoshop for design and occasionally Aftereffects for composite work.

“House Broken” image courtesy of FOX

Wh at goe s i n to m ak i ng t he an i m at ion st yle ? After we have done our research, we unleash our amazing artists to draw as many sketches of characters, backgrounds, environments and anything else the script may call for. Initially, I open up a wide visual net to see what comes back. This often leads to an unforeseen detail or aesthetic that can end up dictating the style of the show. Once the director has narrowed down the style they will work with a smaller group of artists to create paintings of the major locations in the script. It's important to use life as a basis, but remember that it's animated, so we have the ability to warp reality, color, lighting, and design, as we see fit to tell the best story! The director will also work with character artists to design the main

characters that need to exist in this world. There needs to be a harmony between both the character design and the background design for the overall look of the show to work. Of course, once all this has been approved by the director, it needs to be sent to the creators and the network for their approval as well.

What are t he departmen tal bre akdowns of an i m at ion? As a full-fledged animation studio, we have many departments at Bento Box. We create content from script to screen! We have a storyboard team that takes the script and draws out rough compositions of every shot. They pass those along to our editor who strings them together over time so we can see a rough version of the entire episode. At the same time, our teams of

character and background designers are creating the art and design for the show. Once that's approved our character designs go to our digital set up team. They take the character art and draw it in our animation software and break up all the different parts of the design to make the movement easier for the animators Then we have the animation department, responsible for bringing the characters to life. We also have an effects team if the show needs water, fire or explosions. All the animation, backgrounds, and effects are then taken by the composite team and assembled together. This composited shot goes back to the editor to cut into the final edit of the episode. Of course we also have a bunch of incredible production staff that makes sure all the designers and artists have the assets they need and stay on schedule and budget!

September / October 2021


Cover story

Bento Box Atlanta studio


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Wh at dec i sion m ak i ng g oe s i n to de ve lopi ng t he f i na l bac kgrounds and colori ng? As a director, the most important thing in any shot is to ask yourself, "What's the emotional or comical or driving force of this moment in the film?” All our background compositions, lighting, framing, and color should compliment and push the answer to that question. The way the camera is placed, the colors of the walls, the amount of detail in the foreground, each of these things is a choice the background artists must make to drive the significance of the story. There are an incredible amount of

“House Broken” images courtesy of FOX

Bento Box animator works at the Atlanta studio

decisions to make in every background, and each episode has hundreds of backgrounds!

Wh at are t he post produc t ion steps? In post production we tighten the picture edit, add sound and music effects and mix all the audio so it sounds like everything exists in the same space. There is also some color correction work done.

What de t er mi ne s how t he an i m at ions w i l l be di st ri bu t e d? This depends on the platform. How, when and where series are distributed is determined by the platform and each shows’ owner.

Doe s t he li f e span of t he an i m at ion a ff ec t how much wor k g oe s i n to c re at i ng t he f i nal produc t ?

With the internet and the ability to stream on demand, the lifespan of animation has infinitely expanded. Shows, for the most part, will be available on a platform forever. The best shows definitely will be on forever. Any work we create can be rewatched over and over and over again so the entire design and animation team work tirelessly on every production. Certainly there are time and budget constraints but our goal is always to create something unique and visually exhilarating to watch! If we have done our job, you'll want to watch it over and over again!

September / October 2021




Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


tlanta has become the perfect place to create virtual worlds, erupting with studios at an exponential rate. With Cartoon Network near Georgia Institute of Technology, Bento Box Entertainment down the street from Savannah College of Art and Design, Awesome, Inc. and Fern directly north of the Atlanta University Center the proximity of these training centers to production facilities produces a vortex of concentrated energy mixed with passion, inspiration and money. Animation workers from all around the world are relocating to Atlanta or extending their stay indefinitely to work at these studios. But if animation is a computer and web-based medium, why is everyone in Atlanta? Do you ever wonder about the physical spaces of virtual productions? Or the actual tools of the animators? Like, doesn’t the crew just work at home on their computers as in the documentary, Life 2.0 (Spingarn-Koff, 2010)? Or, are animators visiting archives, libraries, and museums for research, commuting to studios during production, sending materials to storage facilities for preservation? How much of the production process, from prep to preservation actually involves person-to-person encounters in physical spaces with tangible objects? Or, better yet, what is the relationship between animation design and the lived experience? According to Ginger Tontaveetong, Executive Director of US's southeastern chapter of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, or ASIFA-South, the lived experience is at the center of animation. From working at physical production studios to designing racially-specific characters, an animator’s illustrations directly reflect their experiences, environments and relationships. Tontaveetong quips, “Who are these characters? Where are their motivations? What is their background, what is this world like, and also the environment as well, too. And that's the big part that goes into designing not just the character, but how the characters fit into the worlds … if something is uncanny, it stands out really, really easily, it's fast. And now I think a lot of studios definitely understand that lived experience is important to actually building a world that reflects the people that they're putting in it other than just aesthetically.” At ASIFA, a Board of Directors and a team of professionals work to produce live and web-based events that provide resources, training, and support for the animation community. While much of today’s animation work is digital illustration, it is still a corporate structure making getting into the business still about who you know and which studios are hiring. For Tontaveetong, outsourcing work is the root of the issue in the region; therefore, her mission for the chapter is centered around awareness. Snowman Sketches by Joanna Davidovich

September / October 2021




“For ASIFA South, our focus is on improving the industry and fostering sustainability as well as making sure that we're more accessible. So more on the diversity and inclusion part of the South… [but] also to kind of show people that there is animation talent in the South, because a lot of times when you think of animation prior to [ASIFA], you know you think of Hollywood, you think of New York,” Tontaveetong told Oz. Atlanta has animation talent and ASIFA-South helps identify them. 40

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Roundtables with PGA, SAGAFTRA, Big Women in Animation, and Atlanta Film Society puts Atlanta’s animation community at the center of discussions, while sketch meets and watch parties on their online platform DISCORD, training sessions with Blender software; incubators with School of Humans, re:imagine/ATL, and Ste(A) M Truck; and figure drawing workshops on ZOOM create necessary networking opportunities for animators at all levels. The Southern Spotlight program helps local content reach an international audience through screenings in different regions of the US, as well as, in Australia, Taiwan, China and more.

SPACE Atlanta has always had a particularly expressive side. The Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program advocates for local art in an effort to produce a heightened sense of place and enliven the visual quality of the built environment. Like a refrain from Andre 3000’s embittered acceptance speech at the 1995 Source Awards, “The South Got Something to Say” is a local mantra

visually illustrated all over the streets of Atlanta. The industry-driven real estate market produces sky-scraper sized canvases for the art and design community, fueling the creative energy produced inside and outside the studios. Therefore, illustrators are at the forefront of the city’s public works projects, as well as, in the center of creativity at major production studios. The tax-incentive brings studios here, but it is privacy and non-disclosure agreements that tether workers to physical studio locations. In order to protect information and secrets from leaking, production companies use physical studios for making and sharing company content. Not to mention, the ease of walking down to your coworker’s office or desk to discuss the project allows for healthy and productive vibes important to the work environment. The expensive software and high-tech equipment in workstations also demand site-specific productivity. So, geography still matters, making Atlanta’s matrix of studios most ideal for students of design and workers of the virtual universe.

Dart Shtajio Storyboards by Brelan Evans

DESIGN Designing a character relies on communal knowledge and shared images. Brelan Evans, a freelance storyboard animator who works on projects in Atlanta, describes illustrating characters as a process of matching personality type with body type. “So when we're designing the character, the costume is mostly a question of ‘What’s the personality type?’ And that usually goes with like the body type of a person. Are they like a shy hero type characteristic? And then based off of that, then we start figuring out what is like if they are super person, ‘What is the thing that’s individual to them?’” he asked Oz. With a 3-4 color palette, artists create a figure who can instantly communicate their personality, express their superpower, and move with agility. “Goku looks exactly the same every time, every season. So even when he transforms, the most he does is he has a different hairstyle. His villains still stick to the same thing, they kind of have this two-color profile or three-color profile. And that's it. They're not, they're not really over the top like intricate because they

had to make the move and set speeds or do all these crazy movements with them… sometimes if it's too much going on, it's distracting from what you're trying to tell in a story,” Evans explained. Even though digital illustration cuts down on the clutter created from too much action and visual detail, simplicity and appeal have become customary. 24 frames are still required to produce 1 second of animation. Evans uses social media in his design research phase to find images and concepts that are trending across the world. “I actually go on to Pinterest and obviously to Twitter, and look up appropriation because a lot of those trends China appropriates, or that UK appropriates, or that America appropriates, if you look at the links that those people who appropriate it or their posting, you can actually find certain posters or magazines or certain visions that they're being shown…those little trends I look at. I think, ‘All right, cool. What can I do different?’ I look up where his culture come from. I see certain patterns that work.” At the end of the day, it is about what works in the design process. Evan says to ask yourself these four questions. Does it look good? Does it

look true to the character? Can we repeat it? Does it still look cool?

TOOLS Today Photoshop, Cintiq, and a felttip stylus, are the main tools (and therefore, artifacts) of the animation trade. However, these technological advancements limit what you can know about practices and the labor embedded in the image. Storyboards are born digital and become digital assets, research is largely googled, and work is uploaded to servers and clouds with Storyboard Pro, Toon Boom, Shot Grid, Teradici, and/ or Blender. But, how are these images inspired? Where do animators go to find sources for their creativity and where do these designs live when the project is over? Currently, the work of United Productions of America (UPA), by Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, and Chuck Jones along with books like: A New History of Animation by Maureen Furniss, Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation by Giannalberto Bendazzi, and The Best Saturdays of our Lives by Mark McCray are popular resources for animators. For Joanna Davidovich, a freelance

September / October 2021


TinTin AR game Storyboards by Brelan Evans

animation artist, digital animation just doesn’t fully capture the labor of the medium. In a video interview with the artist, she talks about missing the threadbare paper in her current practice. “When it comes to paper and pencil, I feel like we still need to return to that. I certainly feel the need to return to that, to just scratching out a drawing and figuring stuff out on paper and seeing how threadbare the paper is from how much you've erased. It just shows how much work it takes to just draw something out of the paper. I think that's still important. I hope it doesn't become something only crazy people do in the future. Like, she actually carries around a sketchbook … ‘What a Weirdo.’ I hope that people still see the usefulness of it,” Davidovich said. As she held up an invisible sheet of paper to an off-camera light source as a talking point in her description it became clear what was missing: the archive.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

ARCHIVES Davidovich recalls how visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Store in Perimeter Mall was greatly influential in her development as an animation artist. Even though the retail store was not an archive (and sold merchandise, instead of preserved objects) there was something about the tangibility of illustrations that inspired her creativity. Like the Warner Bros. Studio Store and The Disney Store (another defunct shopping mall retail chain) these places offered a closer look at content created for the screen and were accessible from all over the country. ASIFA collects and preserves actual animation production artifacts at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret Herrick Library in California. While ASIFA-Hollywood is the organizing chapter overseeing the project in partnership with the Academy, it is a major resource for animators who

wish to see and study the materials of pen and paper illustrators of the past, as well as, today’s born-digital animators. Tontaveetong imagines a Southeastern archive as a personal mission, but admits it requires more bandwidth than is currently available in the region. Students and professionals alike still require access to historical content created for their screen and have relied strongly on a handful of resources, according to Tontaveetong. Every year, ACM’s SIGGRAPH, a Special Interest Group of the Association for Computing Machinery hosts an annual art show. In an effort to aid scholarship, research, and teaching, the organization has preserved art show content that acts as a platform for the newest and most up-to-date contributions to computer graphics. Jerry Beck, editor of Cartoon Research, has composited a rich collection of animation history and information in categories according to famous animators



on his website, www.cartoonresearch. com. In 1987, Dr. Harvey Deneroff founded the Society of Animation Studies which publishes a journal, Animation Studies, a blog, Animation Studies 2.0, hosts an annual conference, and maintains a members-only directory. Born-digital content may have altered the form of the archive by making material available online, but has allowed the community to serve a wider and more diverse public. Dragon Con, Comic Con and other animation conventions also act as living archives providing spaces and platforms for research, the embodiment of characters, the preservation of images, community building, and keeping tradition alive. Dragon Con 2021 is the 35th annual event and returns with costume contests, live performances, reading sessions, burlesque shows, workshops and more. This year, visitors had the chance to meet Disney illustrator, Bryan Scott Fyffe, DC Comics and Cover animator, Zu Orzu, and 2021 Guest of

ASIFAC program - Southern Spotlight Program

Honor, William Stout, American fantasy artist and illustrator, as well as, a slew of comic writers, voice actors, podcasters, costumers, editors, vendors etc. In Atlanta, the archives are located in the people.

EXPERIENCE As an Animation Executive at ASIFASouth, Tontaveetong is concerned about representation and advocacy in all parts of animation production culture. ASIFA is an UNESCO-affiliated non-profit organization, which means centering neurodiversity through social justice initiatives is also part of their mission. Part of her job is to connect animators with other professionals to help tell better stories. For example, she might connect you with Signing Animation if you are designing a deaf character, or Women in Animation if you are seeking to promote the influence of women behind the scenes or in front of the camera. ASIFA is not only

a resource for animators and other career professionals, but also a pathway into the workforce for artists who have been systematically ignored or overlooked. While much of production is streamlined with digital and web-based processes, studios also believe the lived experience is key to good stories. Floyd County will actually hire live models and study facial expressions to create their reference photos. The animators of Raya and The Last Dragon actually traveled to Southeast Asia to study the culture. While characters do not have to represent all persons of a community (obviously impossible) the key is including the unique perspective of someone that has that lived experience.

September / October 2021



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Need Caption

SCAD Animation Studio’s “Hex Limit”


CAD Animation Studio gives the next generation of animators the rich opportunity to experience the ultimate collaborative environment of an industry studio while attending Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). In 2017, SCAD alumnus Chris Gallagher, Chair of SCAD Animation Studio, built SCAD Animation Studio to be a 100% studentrun studio. When he started at SCAD he wanted to incorporate the collaborative methodologies that he learned while working at Disney. Gallagher’s impressive resume ranges from working on Frozen at Disney in LA to King Kong in New Zealand. Gallagher had a knack for animation before the animation department existed at SCAD; after graduation he took his skillset to the next level in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. His first job was working as a Previsualisation Artist (aka “Previs Artist”) at Digital Domain, a digital production company founded by James Cameron and Stan Windston. There he worked on feature films like Stealth, Peter Pan, The Day After Tomorrow, and XXX. Following his success in Los Angeles, Gallagher was recruited by Lord of the Rings Director, Peter Jackson, to make movies in New Zealand which included King Kong. His filmmaking journey brought him back to Los Angeles working

as a Character/pipeline Technical Director at Sony Pictures on blockbuster films including G-Force, Speed Racer, I Am Legend, Spider-Man 3, and Surf's Up. Afterwards, Gallagher was recruited by Walt Disney Animation Studio In 2009, where he had the chance to work on the Oscar winning film, Frozen, among other feature and short animated films. In 2017, SCAD offered him a position as chair of there new animation studio. “I’ve taken all that knowledge and pushed it on them,” Gallagher told Oz in an exclusive interview. “Working at Disney, it's all about collaboration; working on these large-scale projects that transcend generations … When I started at SCAD I knew I wanted to build that ultimate collaborative environment.” Being a SCAD alumnus has shaped the way Gallagher tackles animation projects, and the key has always been collaboration. “Students start at one level, right? They come in and it's a challenge to learn these incredibly intricate pieces of software as well as hone your own unique artistic skills. I like to put it this way: it’s students versus the computer. They’re battling the computer to their incredible art out of their heads, and that's the journey of a student but when they move to an industry it's not individualistic. It is

collaborative.” Gallagher built SCAD Animation Studio to be an 100% student-run full-fledge Animation Studio. “It’s taking the exact methodologies that I used when I worked at Disney and worked on the Oscarwinning animated movies and shorts. We want students to go get internships and learn firsthand but internships are challenging. We love that! So I wanted to be able to provide the next thing for students to work on a full-fledged animated project in that collaborative understanding as a branded Animation Studio,” Gallagher explained. For its first film, the studio produced 'Bearly' (2017), a story about a young bear who resists nature’s call to hibernate only to experience the mysteries of changing seasons. SCAD students of different age ranges and backgrounds came together to breathe life into a burly animated bear, and in many cases here, age is just a number. “The bear itself was created by a freshman,” Gallagher exclaimed. “A first quarter freshman came in and made the bear …. He did the rigging for me. Articulation [by a] first quarter freshman, incredible right?” In other words, students don’t have to be at the senior level to create something

September / October 2021


brilliant at SCAD. Both applications and professor referrals are accepted when applying to become a part of SCAD Animation Studio, which in turn brings in a wide variety of students throughout the SCAD campus. Oz spoke to Jordan Fleming, now a senior in the animation program at SCAD, who worked on “Bearly” as Head of Story. “After I received the script, I worked with the story team to create the first visuals of the story for the rest of the team to base their work on,” Fleming said, a testament to the collaborative efforts put into the animated storytelling that happens at SCAD. “There are many soft and technical skills I’ve learned and focused on during my time at SCAD. Those skills range from networking with my fellow students and professionals in the industry and communicating efficiently during critiques to better my crew’s work, to understanding every aspect in the animation pipeline, from pre-production with concept art and storyboarding, to production where animating characters occurs, to post-production where lighting and compositing finalize the film and developing my artwork as a story artist. SCAD Animation Studio provided me the perfect opportunity to hone in on these skills and gain a further understanding of what it is like to work in the industry,” Fleming added. Fleming went on to direct one of the most recent SCAD Animation Studio films,


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

“Hex Limit,” a 3D animated short. “The way SCAD Animation Studio is structured simulates that of an industry studio. Every session begins with ‘dailies’ to review and critique work. When I applied to be a part of this ‘Hex Limit’ SCAD Animation Studio film project, I presented my past work in a portfolio, and was honored to be selected for this opportunity to work on an animated film from start to finish, and collaborate alongside my very talented peers,” Fleming said. “SCAD Animation Studio students focus on their best skill in the pipeline within their department, as if they were hired for that specific job. It’s an incredible experience collaborating with a large team that truly makes you feel like you’re in the real world, and I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity available only through SCAD.” The beauty of collaboration at SCAD Animation Studio is that it’s incredibly inclusive in terms of welcoming scholars and artists across the college’s departments. “It's not just for animation students, it's any degree here at SCAD that can contribute to what we're working on the film. So like 'Bearly' for instance, was written by a dramatic writing student,” Gallagher smiled giving the example of this method of cross-departmental collaboration. “He said he wanted to make a movie. He wanted to write something about a musical we're like, ‘Great. We want to make a musical.’ And then the person who did the orchestra, the music and the vocals. That was all done from performing

arts and sounds.” “It mirrors the exact way you would see working in the industry,” Gallagher added. “Now students have the ability to do their own unique passion pieces and that's where it's called, ‘a capstone film for seniors.’ And that's one of those things that they learn over time to get up to that level.” Consequently, this method of welcoming in students from different departmental backgrounds allows students to also be understood as having individual needs and goals. SCAD Animation Studio specifically caters to students who want to proceed on different paths in the industry. “Some people want to say, “I just want to animate.” Great! Some [people are] like, ‘I've been working on this project since I was 14 and I want to shepherd it through.’ Great! We can provide both mechanisms,” Gallagher said. Since releasing “Bearly,” SCAD Animation has come out with two new shorts: “The Pope’s Dog” and “Hex Limit.” “The Pope’s Dog” is a 2D animated misadventure film, following the Pope with his new pet in the Vatican. “Hex Limit” is a 3D animation in the vein of the beloved Disney saga, Toy Story. What’s astonishing is that these two SCAD, student-run projects were created during quarantine from the COVID19 pandemic that has fundamentally changed the way we work. “Animation is one of these unique

industries that pivoted on a dime when COVID happened. The world happened last March. And animation took a beat. Breathed. And spread to quarantine. At the same time we couldn't stop making because we have to do these things. So, like I said, it's not that isolation; it’s all collaboration and the world started to embrace zoom like we're doing here,” Gallagher motioned toward the webcam he was speaking into. “But we also figured out how we could leverage and mirror exactly the way that movies are done, right? You saw and you know movies such as Cocoa or Raya and The Last Dragon. Those movies were both finished in the same exact thing that we provide for these students. We provide them the technology that allows them to share their screens in the most basic form which is just a camera and share screens a little bit here and there. We also use other software ‘Shotgun’ which is industry standard production management software and that is what we layer in for the students. We can share a video that is something we worked on that we’re drawing. I can play and then you could do drawings on it and then I could just switch the next frame and I can be drawing and so it allows you in Atlanta and me here in Savannah to work on the same exact thing but then somebody in Singapore or Indiana or California can also be in the same meeting.” “That's kind of the way that our classes were built. We didn't just close

our classes down; we really embraced technology and said, ‘Hey content needs to be made.’ We love and we want to give somebody escapism. And so animation is one of the unique industries that actually blossomed and flourished and actually exploded during covid,” Gallagher added. “We want to always push and stretch ourselves,” Gallagher said in reference to inspiring students to aspire to new and innovative way of breathing life into these animations. For Gallagher, his five year vision and aspirations are focused on creating episodic animations with his students. Currently, SCAD Animation Studio houses 60 students a year. The institution functions as a pipeline, funneling graduates directly into the booming American creative industry with alumni diving straight into traditional and virtual production companies, VFX offices, design agencies, and more. Additionally, SCAD hosts a yearly AnimationFest that stimulates conversation around animation and promotes a better understanding for the craft of animation. “Ever since joining SCAD, I have attended as many presentations and major events as I possibly can. AnimationFest is one of the best events SCAD offers, as it offers opportunities for students to learn from professionals about their careers and get advice. We also learn about what major companies expect from student applicants. With a virtual AnimationFest

even more students can attend panels and presentations, which is absolutely incredible,” Fleming told Oz. AnimationFest just completed its fifth iteration and students like Fleming were afforded the opportunity to talk to major industry leaders about their projects and visions for their future careers. It comes as no surprise when students who showcased at SCAD AnimationFest go onto larger animation projects and companies. That’s the exact intention of the program’s mirroring of the industry. “You know SCAD gave me the most incredible foundation, and that is one of the big things that happened when I was working at Disney. I was very fortunate. I was a mentor there for their apprentice and trainee program for five years, and each year these talented students came in and I'm like, ‘Man, they're really talented’ … ‘Where'd you go to school?’ ‘Oh, OK, same school as me’ … They came in and they were just blowing me away,” Gallagher explained the frequency of running into fellow SCAD alumni on his journey. Films like “Bearly,” “The Pope’s Dog,” and “Hex Limit” have become business cards in motion and proof that honing in on individual skills and applying them mindfully to collaborative projects (with the assistance of cutting edge resources) is the key to accessing different pathways of student success across departments at SCAD.

September / October 2021



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.



antasy worlds work as a blank slate – a canvas with no rules, no bounds, where an artist can bring the worlds in their head to life with no limits. The stories that fantasy writers and artists choose to tell, while fantastic, adventurous and strange, often have parallels to our human lives; the characters and communities within these fantasy worlds struggle, persevere, succeed and fail like the rest of us, no matter how superhuman or alien they may be. They face struggles in ability, in self-confidence, in health, in love, and in being, yet they persevere and come out stronger. It is often these things that allow the fantasy fan to really connect with the story and its characters, and it is this connection that has spurred monumental growth in the world of cosplay – the art of not just dressing up as your favorite fantasy characters, but rather creating and living your day as a version of the character that is also uniquely you.

September / October 2021


I had the pleasure of speaking with Barr Foxx, a cosplay artist spurring progress in the ever-growing Atlanta nerd and cosplay scene. Owner and Creator of Cosplay Your Way, (a brand created to make sure that everyone who wants to enjoy the art of cosplay is welcome), Foxx aims to ensure, to the best of his ability, that you can enjoy your fandom and express it loudly, no matter who you are. Over ten years, Cosplay Your Way has provided an inclusive environment for Atlanta cosplayers of all kinds to shed their fears, ignore the negativity, and bring their favorite characters to life. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I am a cosplay artist. I am the owner and creator of Cosplay Your Way, a brand that I created to make sure that everyone that wants to enjoy the art of cosplay is welcome, regardless of your race, age, size, sexual orientation, or ability. I’m here to make sure to the best of my ability that you can enjoy this fandom. 50

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

I love cosplay. I’ve been doing this for years; didn’t know that I was going to turn it into a brand, didn’t know that I was going to do a documentary. Just came in for the love of it all, had a good experience, and wanted to share that; wanted to keep that inner child alive. I’m here and I’m going to stay as long as people allow me to. How long have you been cosplaying? I’ve been officially cosplaying since 2007. Originally, what happened is that I’ve always been into dressing up into costumes; I love Halloween and love being in different identities. I work in television and film, so it’s just a part of my makeup. In 2006, I was modeling for another convention, and my friend was like, “There are so many people down here with costumes on, why are you not down here?” I put on a hero t-shirt, ran downtown, and was like “I’m just going to see what’s going on” ….and I fell in love. It was Dragon Con. Ever since 2006, I’ve been going back and it’s been amazing. 2007 is when I was like “I want to bring something

- a message, to the Con. I’m glad I’m dressing up, but I also want to make sure characters of color are represented.” You mentioned wanting to be a different character for the day, is that your driving force? I got into cosplay to really embody the characters and the people that were my friends … I’m gonna call them my friends - I know it might sound weird to some people. They helped me when I was younger; reading their stories, vibing with them and really understanding their plight, and watching their struggles were things that really helped me and put me at ease. Cause, you know, adolescence is hard, school is hard, and I needed escapism, which I found in comics. I’m honoring these characters, bringing them to life, and I’m also making sure that other people remember or get to know these characters I love so much. If they helped me and gave me peace of mind, I think it can do it for other people. Comics, video games, and fantasy

Atlanta is perfect to me because it was my official introduction to cosplay – Dragon Con is like no other. I’ve been to many different cons and Dragon Con still stands at the top because it is the fan’s con.” -Barr Foxx in general really allow the writers to provide escapism through their stories and characters; we can get lost in their superhuman world, while they still have very human lessons for us. Right! I loved "Teen Titans" because I got something from them, and I had a best friend who loved Doctor Strange. We still were able to be individualistic in our approach of what we got out of it, but still be among the big fandom of it all. I really got into "Alpha Flight" when I was younger; that’s a group that went through things like cancer and mental illness. It actually trained me a lot for real life. The writers took real world events and put them in comics where we could reflect on them. That’s also why I loved X-men so much, because as a young, Black man, I look at the oppression: how they were treated and not allowed in certain spaces; that’s me sometimes. I love how they handled it: you had the two different ideologies of, “Hey, let’s get along with everybody,” and the other, being “we’ll just do our own Utopian world.” It helped me navigate through some different scenarios. Can you tell me a little bit more about your cosplay journey and the start of Cosplay Your Way? At the time, 2006, there were not that many people of color cosplaying. It’s a completely different story now, but there were not a lot of people of color in the space. I think Marvel was really excited to see somebody of color cosplaying when I was doing Bishop. I made it into

the Cosplay in America book, and I was so enamored. DC comics saw my Jericho from "Teen Titans" and that made it into another publication. It took about three or four years of me being in a utopian, blissful state before I realized there were some issues in cosplay with people of color. They didn’t want us in certain spaces doing certain things. All I knew is I was with my people, my brethren, and we like comics; I didn’t expect that there was going to be dissension and separatism in that. It’s because of that dissension, while getting positive reinforcement from the majors, that Cosplay Your Way began to be formulated. I came into this so innocently, so happy to find my crew, that I didn’t expect issues or discrimination. Instead of complaining, I said, “What can I do?” I met photographers of color or photographers who were open to working with people of color. I met cosplayers that were open to photoshoots. When people came to the Con, I was kind of like their personal liaison to help them transition and be in a good space. I didn’t want their first time to

be something traumatic; people put a lot of time and work into their stuff, despite other people's opinions on what it should be or not. There’s no way you need to kill their drive and enthusiasm; I want to make sure they don’t bump their heads too soon. This person may have been reluctant to work with you, but I know three other people who would love what you’re doing right now. In past years, there had been a lot of debate around who could cosplay what character, especially when it comes to the cosplayer’s appearance and presentation. I noticed a lot of your early cosplays were characters of color. When did this start to open up?

I decided there were a lot of characters I like. If the people who are trying to play by whatever unsaid rules are still getting disrespected, I’m just going all in. I love Jericho from "Teen Titans"; so, I made Jericho me. The outfit was pristine, but instead of the original blonde hair, I had a blonde afro. The afro really worked.

September / October 2021


George Perez [a DC Comics artist] saw it and said, “I love your take on it!” That’s when I said I’m doing me going forward. After that, I did Gambit. These are characters that I connected with in my heart and these are the ones I resonate with. These are the people I want to represent. These are the ones I resonate with. I started to do whatever I wanted to do, however I wanted to do it. If you like it, thank you; if you don’t like it, go away. “You’re black so you can’t IXNAY.” I’m not a part of that. It started to flow. I love Raven [Teen Titans] … but can I do a female, nonblack character? Yes, I can! I’m just going to do me. I think I did it and did it well; I was unapologetic about it, I wasn’t hurting anyone. I just came, I did me, and that’s how the Cosplay Your Way brand started. Why are we letting what some people are thinking hold us back and make us scared? I don’t want that life for me, and I don’t want it for any of you. I need to do something about it - what can I do? I’ll be the crash test dummy for everybody. I’ll go in, do what I want to do; if you think you can handle it, join me. If you don’t think you can handle it, let’s work on it and work on you, and get you to a space and time where you think you can. What do you think of the current state of cosplaying as a cosplayer of color? It hasn’t changed much. There are more people of color on the scene. There’s more recognition. There are more characters of color finally instead of just the five or six we thought we had to choose from. The acceptance of those people, the acceptance of cosplayers of color doing characters that are non-black, is still in a weird space. One thing I used to go through was putting “black” in front of everything. People weaponized it, calling it “Black Gambit” … It was weird, like it was less than. “Black Robin”, “Black Gambit”, when I’m just Robin, when I’m just Gambit. You know the costume, you clearly recognize it, so why are you making that statement? I’m so happy to see people taking the power back. Not just cowering down, hiding in the shadows, saying I can’t do this. Saying “this is not acceptable. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. This is my fandom; you can’t dictate how I 52

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

approach my fandom.” In comics, movies, and video games, there are so many different embodiments of the same character. There’s really no more masterpieces. Can you really say this character only looks like this? Open up your mind and your scope. If we didn’t allow people to play with the image and the look, we’d still be stuck with the original design and that’s no fun. Nothing would be developed; no other characters would be created if you just stuck with it. It’s 2021, so things had to change from 1980. I had probably heard the term before but hadn’t solidified what it meant until I saw photos from Blerdcon, the most recent convention you had been to: “Blerd” being a combination of Black and nerd. We’ve talked about cosplayers of color not just limiting themselves to certain characters, and Blerdcon seemed very diverse in its cosplays, and gave a space for POC in cosplay. Can you talk more about Blerdcon? I’m thankful to the organizer for putting it together. People needed that space – I didn’t know how much people needed that space. I’m mortified by some of the stories; I’m mortified by the social media bullying, the in-person disrespect, the dismissiveness. Blerdcon is a place where a lot of those things are just ripped out – not even a concern. You come, you are welcome, and you can be comfortable. I appreciate them doing that. Everyone is welcome, though it's leaning on the POC experience. There’s a difference between something like Dragon Con, where you might see some representation, and Blerdcon where you are completely engulfed in it. There’s a difference between feeling pretty safe and being completely yourself without worry. Right! Completely different. You’re not scared, you’re not reluctant, you can be creative. You don’t have to worry. You can put your bag down and do you. What does Atlanta bring to the nerd world and cosplay culture that other cities might not have?

Atlanta is perfect to me because it was my official introduction to cosplay – Dragon Con is like no other. I’ve been to many different cons and Dragon Con still stands at the top because it is the fan’s con. More importantly, all the things that go on here … Places like Battle and Brew where you can go weekly and be amongst cosplayers and people who are into the nerdy mystique of life. I, with Cosplay your Way, have an annual photoshoot called CosNoir, where we put out pictures every February for 28 Days of Black Cosplay. Hair of the Dragon is something that is only here – a photo party where they bring out photographers and cosplayers can shoot with at least eight or nine photographers. That’s how a lot of us were able to build up our dossier with our photos. That’s something here that I haven’t seen anywhere else. These were things that were beneficial to me and helped to pour into me; helped me and other people expand. My Parent’s Basement as well. We [Atlanta] have one of the only black owned comic book stores – that is a plus too, because you can also go there for gaming. We also have the cosplay yard sales, which I think are so fun because you can make stuff and sell it, or barter and get rid of old cosplays. These are the things here that keep the culture going. Do you have any upcoming conventions in Atlanta that you’ll be attending? I did three cons in August. At the Atlanta Comic Con coming up, I’m going to show my documentary. Rangerstop Atlanta & Pop are bringing the Power Ranger fans together, which is exciting. This will be after Dragon Con so maybe leave off the rest of the paragraph. I’m debating on Dragon Con because I know it’s gonna be a little larger. Later, I’ll have a better gauge of where we’re at with COVID and I can make a better educated decision.

How has the reception been? The first debut was a virtual con called BLERD City Con, the second was Blerdcon. It was a little scary, because, you know, how are people going to respond? Although I won two Telly awards, for documentary and for editing, I still didn't get to experience an in-person response to it until this summer at BLERD Con. It was really nice to see people and have them come back down to my table to talk about it and ask questions. They said they were positively affected by it, that they didn’t know they could cosplay characters of other races … Hopefully this is something that can live on and be around for years to come if somebody wants to get a quick pick me up about how to break into cosplay, and what it means to be PoC in cosplay. Those are the things where we can say there’s progress. Yes, we still need to do more. Yes, there are still some changes that need to be made, but I would be amiss if I didn’t acknowledge these small wins. Sometimes you need to crawl before you can walk. It’s long overdue. If I’ve helped in any way, I’m happy about that. I hopefully knocked down some doors and opened some eyes, with Cosplay Your Way letting you know that we are here. There’s not just one type of person, we can all enjoy this. I’m going to continue pushing as much as I can, because why not? There’s still some work to be done. I still want to have fun. I want to make sure that everybody that wants to enjoy cosplay can do it without being ostracized.

You recently began showing your documentary, CosNoir, at conventions. CosNoir highlights PoC cosplayers and how Cosplay Your Way is trying to lift them up and into the spotlight.

September / October 2021




art of the fun of gaming is immersing yourself into a character, their story and often, the entire world in which they live. But during that fantasy, players don’t typically stop and think about what it takes to make it all come to life–the sometimes hundreds of people involved in creating the many layers of a game. For more immersive, realistic-looking games, to simply have a character be able to move his or her arms in a lifelike way–bending at an elbow, rotating at the shoulder– it requires 2D illustrators for initial drawings, 3D modelers to make those drawings take three dimensional form,


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

riggers to create movement for those three dimensional forms and then animators to finish the process. And it often takes all these people months to fully animate just one character. Thus, it’s no surprise given the complexity of this process that the timeline of creating a video game isn’t completely linear, but rather has many loops as multiple departments work simultaneously and go through processes over and over as they create the intricate features of the game. To learn more about the timeline of bringing a game to life, Oz Magazine tapped the expertise of A.J. Walker, Design

Director for the game SMITE at Atlantabased Hi-Rez Studios. Walker outlines this timeline as having six major points, being the planning phase, pre-production phase, production phase, BETA phase, launch phase, and the live phase. The planning phase includes brainstorming, pitch rounds, and mood boarding, and can last six or more months. Walker adds that, in this stage, it is important to consider that “to develop a successful new game, you want to identify a hole in the market or a demand that’s not being met, and you design your idea with that unique selling point, or what

“Often when you plan a game, it changes as you go. You have to assume a certain amount of flexibility in the plan. Hi-Rez is known for what we call Iterative Development, because we are able to adjust our games on the fly. You stay on the original pitch, but also make pivots.”

- A.J. WALKER this game is going to do differently, clearly defined.” Prototyping, planning, concept art, and tech team meetings dominate the pre-production phase, which can last one to two years, and leads to, you guessed it, the production phase. The next one to three years of development, you will bring in a team of various talents and focuses to build out the game world, characters, story, and user interface. Team members will include artists, engineers, designers, producers, planners, and a marketing team.

The BETA phase of bringing a game to life will focus on specificities like character quality of life and continuing to build the gaming world to provide a more elevated experience. During this one to two year period, adjustments to data and shift systems will also be made as you begin to process live player feedback. As Walker puts it, “Often when you plan a game, it changes as you go. You have to assume a certain amount of flexibility in the plan. Hi-Rez is known for what we call Iterative Development, because we are able to adjust our games on the fly. You stay on

the original pitch, but also make pivots.” After these improvements, the game will be prepared for its launch phase, in which it will be available for anyone to play. Once the game has gone live, its time frame is undetermined, as you will be faced with decisions of ongoing development and design for new seasons, expansions, and downloadable content such as worlds and playable characters. SMITE, itself, has been live for seven years and counting.

September / October 2021






Point 1: Planning phase

Point 2: Pre-Production phase

Point 3: Production phase

Brainstorming, pitch rounds and mood boarding

Prototyping, planning, concept art, tech team meetings

Bring in entire team of artists, engineers, designers, producers, planners and marketing to build out the game world, characters, story and user interface

Timeframe: 6+ months

Timeframe: 1-2 years

Timeframe: approx. 1-3 years

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.



4 Point 4: BETA phase

Point 5: Launch

Point 6: Live phase

Continue to build gaming world and character quality of life; begin to process live player feedback and data and shift systems accordingly

Game officially goes live and is available for anyone to play

Ongoing development and design continues for new seasons, expansions, DLC (downloadable content such as playable characters and worlds)

Timeframe: 1-2 years

Timeframe: Undetermined (SMITE has been live for 7 years and counting)

September / October 2021




here is no one right way to succeed in voiceover,” Bob Carter tells me over the phone in May of 2021, more than a year after everything changed for so many people in his industry due to the pandemic. Carter, a veteran voice actor who also runs a teaching and production studio in Norcross with his wife, has seen his profession evolve in various ways over the years. 58

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

I’ve called on Carter again now, along with four other performers, to specifically discuss the job of voicing roles for video games, to share their experiences, and offer some tactics for finding success in this coveted area of their industry.

THE PLAYERS The Veteran Working remotely wasn’t an option for Carter when he started out. His career began in radio at GSU’s Album 88 and 99x in Atlanta in the 1990s, which led him to voice acting for anime. Eventually he began adding video games to his resume, landing iconic roles such as Balrog in the Street Fighter franchise and Shao Kahn and Baraka in Mortal Kombat. Back then, it was about being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. While working at a station in Dallas, he got involved with the improv scene out there and, through people he met, was invited to audition at Funimation Studios outside of Fort Worth. The lesson, he says, is that “success is about making it into different circles.” It also helped that Carter had talent, of course, as well as versatility. “I had this willingness to play,” he says, “to try different things.” And he had the drive to make the most of those connections and opportunities. “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” he adds.

As a longtime gamer — he admits to blowing the first paycheck he ever made on the original Mortal Kombat in 1993 — Carter not only had a passion for the medium but he also knew what a big deal it was that they were reinventing that game for the 2011 reboot, and therefore how special it was to be involved with it. “To be

a part of such an incredible franchise,” he explains, “it was huge for me.” After moving back to Georgia and settling down with his family, however, Carter wasn’t seeing as many opportunities for voiceover work and would have to fly to where the jobs were, when he could. He then heard about the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA), through which he connected with people like Andrew Lackey of Wabi Sabi Studios, by networking and attending meetups. “I got out of my shell and got into some new circles,” Carter recalls. And that led to more video game gigs, including Destiny 2, which he could record nearby. “It’s great to be a part of a community that's been much more collaborative than competitive,” he says of the Atlanta gaming circle. “We're all in this together. We’re all trying to build up the industry here.” The Newcomer Through their studio, The Neighborhood, Carter, and his wife (fellow voice actor September Day Carter), have been doing their part to build up Georgia’s talent pool by teaching, coaching, and even casting new performers. Martin Yeh is one of these up-and-coming voice actors who, since studying with Carter, has found representation and booked a number of gigs, including the video game Smite. But even with his training and connections, success didn’t come easy or immediately. “There was a lot of auditioning before I booked my first job. A lot!” he confesses. “The mentality you have to adopt in this industry is that it’s a marathon, not a race.” As with any dream job, perseverance is key, even when it feels like the journey may never arrive at its destination. “You just have to keep going,” he encourages, although “it can definitely be mentally taxing, thinking, ‘Wow, I'm putting in all this work, but I don't feel like I'm going anywhere.’” Fortunately for Yeh, he has something to fall back on. While he focuses on getting his Master’s degree in computer engineering, the pursuit of voiceover work has been more of a hobby. However, he does hope to one day make it his career.

Martin Yeh

Having finally booked his first video game late last year has boosted his confidence and given him a taste of the high of success. “It’s a weird and satisfying feeling because on one hand I achieved what I wanted in booking a role, but it didn’t feel real,” Yeh says. It's been months since the game was released, and he still hasn’t gotten used to the idea. “I don't think it will ever feel real,” he says. “It's a lot of work, but in the end, I am definitely satisfied with what I've done so far. I can say I voiced a skin in a high-profile game and I can be happy. But I want to keep on pushing and see how far I can go.” The Latecomer Andrea Perez is another voice actor who is new to the field, and a latecomer at that. The public school Spanish teacher had always been interested in performing but only decided to give it a try when one of her students told her she had a great voice. After studying and training, she landed her first gig a few years ago. “It was hard,” she admits. “I think afterwards, I cried.” She later booked her first video game role, in part because it involved bilingual dialogue, which brought a whole new level of demands. “It just was a lot,” she reveals. “I didn't realize how many takes they need for every single line that you say in a video game. That takes a long time to record. Trying to make the same line sound different five different times.” While some in her profession discourage pay-to-play sites, Perez has found much of her work through Voices. com, which she says is very professional, easy to use, and has been profitable from the start despite the fees. “It’s been really lucrative,” she affirms.

September / October 2021


Andrea Perez

She recognizes it is not quite the same as having representation but believes the successes she has had on the platform have led to more auditions. “I’m finding there are certain people on Voices. com who are constantly inviting me to jobs that are very similar to ones that I got before.” However, she has seen a huge increase in the number of actors pursuing voiceover work online, especially in the past year, and is finding the competition to be challenging. “Before you would see postings get only twenty people auditioning,” she remembers. “Through the pandemic, I’m seeing hundreds of people auditioning for things.” As a result, she has been focusing on the job postings with less activity and on the invites she sees early enough and can turn around quickly. “That could be a lost opportunity,” she concedes, divulging that she tends to skip over the more popular gigs, “but why don't I try for something else that has fewer auditions?” The Comeback When Nicole Britton re-entered the world of voiceover acting eight years ago, after taking time off to have kids, she encountered an evolved industry. “So much had changed from the early 2000s,” she recalls, noting the rise in home studios in particular. “I started over from square one because I knew there was so much to learn to be both the performer and the engineer.” 60

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Nicole Britton

Part of the adjustment was also location-based. She and her family had just migrated from L.A. to Atlanta, following Georgia’s film production boom (her husband works in the industry), and there appeared to be fewer resources than she had out west. “For those of us who are outside of those communities, we wear more hats,” she says of the initial need to grasp how to self-record. Britton began her career on the stage after going to school for acting, and that background helped her find success in voiceover. "The fact that I had an interesting voice was probably the least important,” she says of her talents. “I had the chops. I was already an actor.” She had no problem with the need to further her education upon returning to the field. “Regardless of your industry, you still have to take classes every couple of years and catch up on things,” she says. “Learn what’s new to keep your finger on the pulse, to stay fresh.” Britton does most of the work herself when it comes to finding video game jobs. She cites GameDevMap.com as an “excellent” resource for locating developers all over the world and seeing what they’re working on. “One of my favorite games that I've worked on is called Dolmen, and that came from reaching out to a company in Brazil,” she reveals. Interestingly enough, she hasn’t yet booked anything with local game developers. “I keep trying to crack the Georgia nut,” she says, adding that it’s just a matter of time.

Jonathan Myles

The New Man Until the pandemic hit, Jonathan Myles had only worked for local developers, regularly commuting into Atlanta to record for Hi-Rez and other clients. But last year, after upgrading his home studio, he began finding work outside of Georgia. “It's nicer to be able to do it from home instead of driving in traffic,” he affirms. The Georgia native, who has been acting since middle school and playing video games even longer, initially got into voice work to combine those two passions, but it took him nearly five years to book his first job. “That was obviously very discouraging,” he admits. “But after COVID, I don't know why, it felt easier for me. I think because I've been able to submit more and get hired for more stuff.” One of Myles’ early video game gigs, pre-pandemic, was completely lifealtering, and not necessarily in a good way other than as a learning experience. “I knew the voice was rough,” he says of the role, “significantly deeper than my actual voice.” The session was going to be long, too, so he made sure to have plenty of water and honey, as advised, but he still made one crucial error. “I was trying to make myself look as good as possible and didn’t want to take any breaks,” he confesses about his desire to impress the new high-profile client. During the session he was having trouble maintaining the voice, but he struggled through it and finished without anyone else noticing. By the time he got out to his truck, though, he couldn’t feel his throat

at all. It was shot. “I woke up the next day and my voice was completely different,” he recalls. “It was hurting really bad.” He wound up with vocal nodules and was out of commission for weeks. It could have been even worse. While he refrained from doing deep voices for at least a year, he’s now able to go rough again after learning how to keep from putting strain on his vocal cords. He’s been a changed man, literally, since that day, though. “Even my speaking voice right now does not sound the same as it did back then,” he tells Oz.

TIPS AND TRICKS Level 1: Training When it comes to voiceover, the first thing you need is a voice, but it’s what you can do with that voice that matters. “You have to have acting experience and training,” Carter insists, “You’ve got to be highly expressive, more than just your normal on-camera dramatic actor. That's why we always recommend improv comedy classes. I always recommend Dad’s Garage.” Improv also helps with your willingness to branch out. “It's not about getting out of your comfort zone,” he says. “It's about expanding your comfort zone.” For Yeh, improv is about getting into the zone. “Having those skills allows me to get into the setting of whatever that character may be in,” he says. “When you're in the booth auditioning, you're not really in the best space. There's not really much to go off of for inspiration. Having those improv skills helps you imagine and helps your mind get into that character.” Learning different accents can also be helpful. “It behooves the company to hire someone who can play more than one character, from a financial standpoint,” Britton says. “So if you can come in and do four characters, you're a hotter commodity than someone who can do one. The more facility and ease you have with your accents the better.” She encourages anyone, no matter the level, to the best of their abilities, time constraints, and budget, to always be training and studying. “There's so much to learn,” she says. “Especially with voiceover. There's the performance part

of it, the craft, but there are also nuances in how to record yourself, how to present yourself professionally, and even how to market yourself.” Level 2: Networking You may have the talent and even the training, but that’s nothing in a vacuum. You need to find your people and begin networking. “Get involved,” Carter recommends. “Go to these meetups. Go meet up with the game developers. Meet up with the people who can hire you.” He reiterates that it’s important to make it into different circles, then follow up and follow through. “Success is ninetypercent showing up,” he says. “Just hang out and have fun and play video games with people who want to make games. That's what it's all about, being willing to put yourself out there. That's why a lot of what I teach is self-awareness and confidence.” After you’ve made the connections, that is when your talent comes back into the picture. As Carter points out, “You've got to be professional enough to back up what you say you can do.” What if you’re not a gamer but you still want to book video game jobs? “If you don’t have any background in video games, go to a game jam,” Carter suggests, “where people make video games in a weekend. You’re getting hands-on experience and breaking through. When you show up and you’re willing to play and willing to help people, you learn a lot.” Due to the pandemic, physical meetups and live events have been mostly non-existent. Yet the alternative means of socializing that have grown in popularity over the past year — Zoom calls, Discord groups, Clubhouse, etc. —have made connecting with people even easier. “Opportunities to network are out there and at your fingertips, especially now that so many things are virtual,” Britton says. The question is, will gettogethers completely return to how they used to be? “I don't know what it'll look like in six months to a year. Maybe we'll have a combo of virtual and in-person.”

Level 3: Auditioning When it comes to the actual process, going out for video games is distinct among voiceover opportunities. “There is a different nuance,” Yeh points out. “With video game auditions, there is more wiggle room in which to play around, and you really get to flex your creative juices. There are a lot of different ways to interpret a character in a video game.” When given a reference, Yeh suggests not going with an exact imitation. “Try to get a sense of what the casting director wants from the reference, but do it in a way that's yours,” he says. “Basically, don't force it and make it too different from your own voice because that hurts the authenticity. And the main thing the players want is for the character to be believable. If you try to do anything that strays from that, that would definitely be noticeable.” Perez recommends taking the gig seriously and going the extra mile. “The impression is that they’re fun and super easy,” she says of the attraction of these jobs. “Video game auditions are more than just the words on the paper. You have to really make that character come alive in those thirty seconds.” What you bring to the audition that's different from everyone else is significant, Britton adds. “But we're not just looking to be different. We’re seeking to add another several layers to the character to really bring that character to life.” Myles says that casting directors don’t always know what they want. “They send an audition that says to do this and this and this, and then six months later you hear that part that you auditioned for and it doesn't sound anything like that,” he explains. “Casting directors think they know what they want until they hear something better.” Perez also advises: “Remember the non-verbals,” referring to the extra nondialogue sounds required of video game characters. “You have to figure out where to put those in because they might not tell you. But when you do it, it just enhances everything a thousand times.” “Knowing how to have a good imaginary fight is key,” says Britton, who took a jiu jitsu class to help with her efforts. “It certainly won't be the

September / October 2021


only thing that gets you the job, but they always want six different sounds of you throwing a punch and six different sounds of you getting punched.” She continues: “It doesn't take a genius to figure out what it might sound like to get punched, but it does take a little bit of chutzpah to actually be brave enough to make that sound. It feels weird. Just really go for it and don’t be shy or hold back. That right there is a key skill. To be able to say, ‘Sure, yes, I can do it.’” Having a friend or colleague to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from is also a good idea, and if that person can also keep you from tinkering too much, all the better. Britton recognizes, “Sometimes at the end of the day we just need somebody to say, ‘For goodness sakes, just send it. Stop thinking about it.’” This industry is one where you just have to give your all and keep striving. Britton says to “send it and forget it.” when it comes to auditions, emails, etc. “Let it go and be what it is. And know that one of these days something is going to land.” Level 4: Engineering During the pandemic, working remotely has been a necessity for professionals in most industries, and that certainly goes for the field of voiceover, which has been thriving thanks to the tools and technology available to artists. But some performers were more prepared than others. “Because of the way we teach, our students were able to adapt much quicker than other people,” Carter boasts. “We talk about making sure you’ve got a professional grade quality home studio,” he adds. “You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to do that. I teach people how to get started on a budget of less than $400, as far as the hardware goes.” Perez was fortunate to find a perfectly good vocal booth on Craigslist that someone was getting rid of, cheap. “It’s made a huge difference,” she attests. “If you listen to the auditions I did before I had the vocal booth, you'll hear the quality is vastly different. I started having more auditions landing the job once I had the booth.” Having your own studio also opens up more prospects around the world if you’re able to connect digitally. “One time


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Andrea Perez

I worked with a sound designer in Sydney, Australia, and the video game company was in Vancouver, Canada, and I was in Atlanta,” Carter says. “The internet is an amazing thing. We're able to do that now.” Doing everything yourself, including the recording and engineering on top of the performing, can be a big challenge, however. “That is probably one of the toughest things to have to manage,” Perez admits.“If I'm recording something and I don't have a third party [assisting], and I'm dealing with the director and looking at the keyboard… that's difficult. I'm learning how to do it a little better, but I prefer having a third person if I'm doing a directed session.” Figuring out how to do everything yourself is beneficial, even if it’s for a last resort and not preferred. “When your industry is built around technology, you have to evolve and continue to learn new technology. You gotta learn new skills,” Carter urges, noting that in the world of voiceover “there’s a huge opportunity for a new generation of tech-savvy people.” Level 5: The Performance Once you’ve booked your job, the real work begins, and that can go a number of different ways depending on how the client wishes to proceed and whether you can accommodate. “Everybody's going to work a little

bit differently,” says Britton, “but as much as possible do your homework, look at the renderings or sketches. You probably booked the job because you thought about that to begin with. So go back and listen to what booked you the job in the first place. That's your own reference. Make sure you're in that same place and ready to deliver that performance.” Working well with the director is going to make the session go smoothly and help you get more work with them in the future. “The number one most important trait to being a good voice talent is giving the director what they want when they want it,” Carter explains. “Being willing to listen to your director and doing the things that they ask you to do,” he adds, is of the utmost importance. "It's great to be super creative and just be able to flow with the character, with your ideas,” Britton says. “But at the end of the day, it's also really important to be able to work with a team of people who are all collaborating together. This is where the training comes in handy. You learn how to take direction and you learn how to contribute.” Britton also advocates for proper vocal hygiene, learning to use your instrument — your body —, and maybe even scheduling the roles requiring yelling and screaming at the end of the week so you have the weekend to recover. As Carter reminds, “You are a business owner, and your product is your voice,” so it’s also important to take care of it so you can keep doing the work. For Myles, given his experience, he has one very important tip for the work: “Take breaks.” —While some of these tactics are universal, not everyone’s experience or advice suits everyone else. These five players have put in a lot of time, effort, and trial and error to get to where they are in the game of voiceover, with each at a different stage of success. Press start, make your attempt, and give it a go. “If you find a way that works for you,” Carter says, “congratulations!”

September / October 2021



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


WHY DO WE HAVE TO INCLUDE EVERYONE? Inclusion is important for all media, but we mostly hear about it when film and television are involved. What about the gaming industry? When I think about games that I played as a child, none of the characters looked like me; and half of them were animal-like. I can only imagine a game where the hero looks like me. Even now, most heroes in games are still represented by the majority, and even if you do get to design your character, plenty of games are lacking on the diversity front. That is not to say that there has been

no progress as of late, but we still have a long way to go in terms of inclusion. Things like this, although they may seem like small details in everyone’s daily lives, add up to create inherent biases. Today, there are game developers in Georgia trying to change the narrative one game at a time. Oz Magazine got to sit down with the founder of Subsume Media, Dedren Snead, whose mission is to make sure no child is left behind. Subsume designs Ed Tech (educational games) for kids and as a company, they know that representation matters in and out of the virtual world. It is important to see your culture being

portrayed in a positive manner in any media. “There was a study in 2018 [that showed that] it’s exponentially different for White characters [compared to] Black characters in children’s literature. It’s the idea of being able to see yourself... This is how young kids see and view themselves. How they build self-esteem. How they value not only themselves, but their families and the culture in their neighborhoods. Because they never see themselves represented in a positive format, then it’s hard to bring that type of self-worth or self-value into their adult life,” Snead told Oz.

September / October 2021


Subsume’s mission and focus is “to be inclusive in the tech and creative career space...to be a technology platform that intersects technology, creativity, and fellowship for people in inclusive communities. People that are marginalized and underrepresented through technology, through access, and through agency...we are also looking at marginalized voices in the BIPOC+ community as well. With an emphasis on how they intersect, ally, or collaborate in Black spaces.” Putting games into the world that show other cultures and ethnicities brings about positive change and slowly works to resolve the issue of inherent biases. Although Atlanta’s Subsume as a company is less than five years old, Snead’s experience in the mainstream gaming industry has led him to chase after something that would make a bigger difference in the lives of others, and for him, that is Ed Tech, as he refers to it. Because of the pandemic, more Ed Tech is being utilized in schools and at home. It is a way to get kids more excited about learning during such a strange time in all of our lives. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, Subsume developed a game for Atlanta Public Schools called Mathlanta, a role playing game on PC that gives children the opportunity to solve different math problems throughout the greater Atlanta area. In the game, Atlanta has issues that have to be solved by completing math problems and getting past the drones, robots, and crazy situations the city is being put through. Not only does it help with their math skills but also with the awareness of what surrounds them in the city. Another plus is that this game allows children to create characters that look like them and allows them to experience something positive with a character in that light. Snead emphasized that “if we don’t have representation in media and technology that has a focus and an emphasis in representing marginalized voices, backgrounds, and cultures in the most pronounced ways, then we are creating biases...we have to make it so that kids will appreciate it on both fronts. Particularly for younger children, they have a digital sense of self more than any generation before them. They live and breathe and speak [technology], it’s just


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

a generalized language [for them]... At that point, if they never see themselves represented, but [only see] the default that is always represented, then it’s the idea of teaching kids inherently that these differences are to be understood. It’s an unwritten language. So it may not be directly racist, but it’s exclusion brings concerns. When you look at role playing games and games in that sense, we look at how many choices you have to really customize ethnicity, the darker the skin tone, the more non-eurocentric you are. There are less of those. Because the presumption is, that is not your audience, or that’s not who the stories are about because most stories are based from a heteronormitive eurocentric male perspective, so again, they look at those marginalized voices as foreign or as scenery or that’s just how entertainment has been built. That’s just that inherent bias.”

With that being said, it’s no secret that it is challenging to be a minority in an industry that is still majority White. Snead recognizes the pushback that he faces when people realize he is not who they expect to be the owner of a media and game development company. He finds it is important to have diversity in these virtual worlds but also in the real world too, and that is why he leads as an example for kids to understand that it’s possible to be somebody and that nothing is off limits for their future. “A lot of those particular problems [inherent biases] still persist, so we find the need for diversity in games. The need for diversity and the need for inclusion and gender equality across not only different representation, but management [and] ownership. All those things seem to still be opportunities as we put the most advanced technology towards these programs and processes,” Snead explained. It’s about access, and Snead wants to make sure that not only does he provide someone to look up to in founding the company, but he also lives in and around the neighborhood that he is wanting to serve and support. To help kids “envision and see where they can be. It breaks down the stigma that these cultures don’t participate in these types of things, and it simply builds up the skill set that would be extremely marketable no matter what your major opportunity is to learn more in the future.” Snead envisions Ed Tech’s future to be a big one. One in which we no longer label it as Ed Tech, but instead, it is a compliment to our school’s curriculums. Gaming can be educational and fun at the same time, so he wants to demystify that trope. He feels that the current K-12 curriculum is becoming outdated and now that we see it is possible for children to go to school online where they were still able to learn, the future of school, in his eyes, will be for the purpose of socialization and not just learning, with a little bit of Ed Tech on the side.

MORE LEARNING, MORE EXCITEMENT It’s a family affair at Atlanta’s Games That Work, with father and son team Dov and Jesse Jacobson. With a passion to educate children through “games that work”, as Dov likes to call educational


You play them and they work. They work in that they do something. They do a job.” ________________

games, he explains that, “You play them and they work. They work in that they do something. They do a job.” Dov had years of experience working for a mainstream gaming company before switching to educational games, deciding that he wanted his work to have more meaning. From these games they developed, they have found tangible evidence of increased understanding and also of positive behavioral changes in its users. During his company's beginnings, Dov Jacobson was approached with the idea of making an educational game about Sue the Dinosaur. “Their idea of what education was is to take a classroom experience and put it on the screen. You instruct and you test and you assess and that is not what we thought [when it comes to] the way a game should teach,” Dov said. Instead of being quizzed about the dinosaur, Dov created a game where the kids were playing with the facts and not just memorizing facts to pass a quiz or a test. “You learn all these different species, you aren’t memorizing them, you’re doing them. And that was a turning point for our studio. We weren’t educators learning games, we were game makers learning



how to educate. And we weren’t trying to reproduce the classroom at all. They used to tell us that, you know educational games are great, they are learning because they are having fun. And that’s not right. They are having fun because they are learning. There is nothing that feels better than learning something new, especially if you’re doing stuff! We’ve been doing that for the last 16 years…,” Dov said. Jesse Jacobson says that it is the “self guided discovery of learning that is truly enjoyable.” When children are playing games like this, they enjoy the challenge because they eventually are rewarded for their hard work. Dov continues, “You run into a problem in the game and you have to solve it! You reach out to find the information so that you can solve the problem rather than someone saying here’s the information, learn it. You want it so you can get to the next level and get past this challenge. It works great and people learn from it.” They make games for kids and adults to learn and change certain behavior and habits. Speaking with Dov and Jesse, I hear their voices brighten when they mention one of the most popular games they developed called Brush Up. Clearly they

have a passion for this game as it teaches children such an important hygienic practice. Brushing properly comes in the form of something called the modified brass technique, the way that we should all be brushing our teeth, but didn’t get to have Brush Up show us the correct way when we were growing up! They have found that it has changed the behaviors of children and their brushing habits as well. Dov Jacobson explains how Brush Up works, “there’s a sensor in the camera, so we put the kid in the game and the kid can watch himself and it ends up that the kid is determining how well he is doing. How well he brushes and how well he watches what he is doing. It works and they can’t cheat, and they win prizes, and every day there are new prizes. The kid is in the game next to our Budd, the superstar monster, and behind them is their mirror and the kid can see themselves in the mirror and sees themselves in the game. Budd is brushing and they brush together. It’s a great model.” Little did they know, not only was the game changing brushing habits at home with kids, but it was also making life easier for parents during teeth brushing time. Dov receives emails upon emails of

September / October 2021


parents thanking him for making their routines just a little bit easier by resolving fights and making bedtime a little more fun. The journey to getting Brush Up to where it is now was never easy. With technology ever changing, there were things that needed to be considered on top of the fact that game based learning typically needs grants and funding from outside sources. So, when the Wii was first released in the mid-late 2000s, Dov came up with the idea to make a toothbrush out of the WiiMote for Brush Up. In doing so, he brought the idea to Washington, D.C. and pitched it to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “To get a grant from the NIH you have to be pretty established. You have to know science, so it took three years. Coming back to them every year with an incredible amount of paperwork and they would say, ‘yeah this is good but you need to... where is your child spatial psychologist?’ Child spatial psychologist? We’re game people,” Dov said. Dov continues, explaining that they needed to find “an expert in the use of tools by really young children, perfect. Those three years were great. Anytime they said do this and we did it, the team became much better. The game never would’ve worked so well without the child psychologist, without the dental researchers, and the dental hygienist


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

team. They knew what they were doing. So around 2012 or 2013, we started to be able to test it [the game] and in 2015 we came out with a version that didn’t have a toothbrush.” Games That Work ran into more problems along the way with the development of the toothbrush, so Procter & Gamble asked if a brushless version was possible, and that is the version that gained popularity for kids learning how to brush their teeth the correct way. The Jacobsons have noticed a big difference in the educational gaming industry going from seeing only 40 people at a conference to a few hundred, so they know it’s growing and hope that eventually game based learning will be a supplement to today’s curriculum. ”I think game based learning will supplement with textbooks. Textbooks have a lot of facts in them, to some degree, maybe a methodology, like math and science especially. Game based learning isn’t designed to replace the accumulation of facts in your brain, it’s designed to change your behavior, change your understanding, change your attitude. So, I view it much more like supplementing a classroom conversation about the possible causes of something like WWII. Something where you want to take the facts that you have learned and assimilate it into the facts that you have learned about the world. Where you can supplement textbooks and grow into the

curriculum,” Jesse added. Although people were not fully prepared, it seems that the pandemic planted the seed for game based learning to become more acceptable and adopted by the mainstream. It is also a way for children to learn without feeling bogged down with facts needed for standardized testing or any kind of testing that brings on anxiety for a lot of children. Educational games are the future. As someone who used to play a variety of video games, I am excited to see inclusion become the normal thing. As someone who is around young children in the childcare industry, I know that there is something about educational games that help children comprehend better. They understand what they are actually doing and they continue to take that new knowledge with them into their daily lives. Screen time is something that many parents are very cautious about and we know that everyone learns differently, so why not make their screen time educational and fun without them feeling like it is a boring way to play. There is no reason to exclude the two from each other. Educational games are fun and I think it’s time that we erase that stigma and just play!



SEPTEMBER 23-25 FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: morehousehumanrightsfilmfestival.com

September / October 2021



Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

HyperX™ Cloud Alpha Pro Gaming Headset $100 HyperX™ Cloud Alpha’s cutting edge Dual Chamber Drivers design will give your audio more distinction and clarity by reducing the distortion. OCULUS QUEST 2 AND ACCESSORIES $300 Dive into the endless horizons of virtual reality with Oculus VR headset and accessories. This headset is your ticket into virtual worlds from concerts and comedy to sports and beyond. Kone AIMO Remasters Mouse $60-$80 “The new Kone AIMO remasters the original with more precise optics, an easy-clean grip with better hold and aesthetic. All while retaining the game-changing ergonomics and improved thumb area of its namesake. It has a full feature-set that provides maximum precision and command power in all situations.” -ROCCAT Skullz MOAC "Mother Of All Chairs" $425 “The Skullz MOAC chair is a top of class gaming chair! With built in lumbar support, aluminum wheel base, 4D arm rests, and top quality materials and stitching, there really isn't a better gaming chair.” -Wes Byrd, CEO of Skullz Razer BlackWidow Mechanical Gaming Keyboard $93-$140 “Most PC gamers use keyboard and mouse. There is a wide variety of those in the market. Fan favorites are by Razer, Corsair, HyperX, and SteelSeries.” -Wes Byrd, CEO of Skullz

September / October 2021





n today’s world, creativity, knowledge, and access are integral drivers of economic growth and the development of global and local economies. At the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, prior to the pandemic, 2021 was declared the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. Presented at the assembly by several countries, one tenet of the proposal encouraged diversification of production and exports, including in new sustainable growth areas such as creative industries.


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

The State of Georgia took note. For many years, Georgia has been considered an entertainment and economic powerhouse. The state consistently ranks as a top destination for economic development and is one of the best places to live in the United States. We owe this reputation in large part to the imagination and inventiveness of our workforce. Not only do creative workers fill our local film, animation, and game studios, but they are also essential to our booming tech sector, where computer programmers and software developers use creativity in their work every day. In Georgia, the film and television industry has had a major economic impact. Now, we are learning from this success, asking, “How can we capitalize

on this momentum through the strategic growth of Georgia’s creative industries?” The creative industries – which include gaming, advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music, performing arts, publishing, software development, esports, special effects, and TV/radio/ podcasting to name a few – are the lifeblood of our creative economy. That’s why the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation team has placed a focus on the creative economy. We’re tackling it in two ways: first, by undertaking a comprehensive study to understand the growth of our local creative economy; and second, by creating a community-based education and information program –

called the Georgia Creative Communities Project – to help our local communities become aware of the creative sectors and position themselves for future economic opportunities. Creativity is vital to the health of our economy. The Georgia Creative Economy Report will help our communities understand where we can best support our creative industries to drive interdisciplinary creative collaboration and innovation across all industry sectors, as well as grow Georgia’s reputation as the state that invents the future. This benchmark study will provide smart guidance as we strive for new goals. Additionally, creatives are the human capital who showcase the beauty of our landscape. They perform the concerts and plays that bring our communities together through healthy expression. One of the many lessons of the global pandemic has been the role creativity plays in our daily lives and careers. Rarely has there been a better time to embrace and invest in it! With the move to automation in certain occupations, combined with the rise of the gig economy and nontraditional forms of employment, it’s crucial that partners across Georgia foster comprehensive opportunities for youth to build transferable skills and competencies, including entrepreneurship, computational thinking, and creativity. Understanding how creative skills and competencies align to form a career pathway can help students and workers reach high-paying occupations. The Georgia Center of Innovation’s work on this project will allow a greater understanding of current assets in the state to allow a holistic youth development system that emphasizes creative skills and media arts education. This understanding will assist statewide partners as they develop plans that will keep our future workforce strong and competitive for years to come. Momentum should not be lost in the wake of the pandemic. So, let us turn to creativity and draw on its full spectrum to shape the future of Georgia while harnessing its innovation potential for the maximum positive return.

Asante Bradford

Dawn Price

September / October 2021



By Andrew Greenberg and Jay O’Toole, PhD


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.



INTRODUCTION TO GEORGIA’S GROWTH AS A GAMING HUB Georgia’s growth as a game development hub continues to grow. In 2019, the game development industry employed just over 4,000 employees in studios from Savannah to Columbus, and from Valdosta to North Georgia. These high-quality and high-paying jobs feature average salaries above $70,000, not including benefits. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this means that the average job in the video game industry in Georgia pays about 20% higher than the median household income in Georgia. The video game industry continues to also show impressive growth in gross revenues. When the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA) first started producing its annual report on the economic contributions of the industry five years ago, the gross revenues totaled approximately $275 million. In 2019, the gross revenues grew to just under $480 million. Moreover, gross revenues have increased by more than 10% in four of the last five years. While many industries have been hurt by the 2020 COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, early indicators suggest that sales in the video game industry improved. Early indicators based on research conducted by The NPD Group suggest that year-over-year US video game sales rose by more than 25% during the first several months of the pandemic. For the past several years the GGDA has tracked Georgia firms that qualify for the Chapter 159-1 Film Tax Credits for Film, Video or Interactive Entertainment Production. It then used data gathered from primary and secondary research efforts to estimate the economic contributions of the industry by using a standard regional input-output-model using RIMS II multipliers established by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The impact of the video game industry in Georgia does not only affect

the economy through its gross revenues, but it also affects the economy in other ways. Once the direct, indirect and inducement effects are considered, the economic contributions of the video game industry in Georgia exceeded $925 million in total output in 2019. Direct output consists of output generated specifically by the video game industry. An easy way to think about the direct output is to think about the gross revenues. Indirect output is generated through business-to-business transactions resulting from local input purchases. For example, many of Georgia’s video game companies will outsource some of their production to other Georgiabased companies. Finally, induced output results when the more than 4,000 people employed in the video game industry in Georgia spend their money throughout the Georgia economy. This spending then ripples across the entire Georgia economy. Ultimately, the growth of the industry, the vast and reliable infrastructure that produces a highquality labor market, and the benefits of the Chapter 159-1 Film Tax Credits for Film, Video or Interactive Entertainment Production are proving to attract new business to Georgia. During an interview with a firm that relocated from California to Georgia recently interviewed as a part of the GGDA’s research to produce the annual report on the economic contributions of the video game industry in Georgia, the tax credits were mentioned as a major reason for the relocation but the person being interviewed also noted the cost of living in Georgia and the educational infrastructure as two other welcome features of the area that he believes will help continue to sustain the long-term success of the industry in Georgia.

SUCCESS IN GEORGIA GAME CAREERS Kevin Dressel began his game career with some of the biggest companies in the world, including such world-renowned companies as EA and Zynga. While some game creators think of working for such industry giants as the pinnacle of a long career, Dressel chose an alternate route. “I enjoyed working on some of the most famous games in the world. I enjoyed learning from the best game developers even more. However, I had too many game ideas of my own rolling around in my head. Georgia offered the perfect mix of affordability and supportive community for me to start my own company,” said Dressel, Founder of Shiny Dolphin Games. Some of Georgia’s game studios, like Hi-Rez Studios and Tripwire Interactive, have become industry leaders, with millions of players around the globe enjoying their games. Others, like Shiny Dolphin, have carved out a niche in the highly competitive indie game space, developing games that might not have the

September / October 2021


Jay O'Toole, PhD

same number of players as their larger cousins but develop just as much loyalty and devotion in their fans.


-CHRIS WIESE, PRESIDENT OF HOLISTIC DESIGN The Impact of an Expanding Gaming Industry At the beginning of the GGDA’s birth year, 2005, Georgia had just five game studios in the entire state, hiring less than 50 people. Fast forward to 2021, and more than 160 companies work in game development, stretching across the state from north to south and east to west. They make their games for PCs, consoles,


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Andrew Greenberg

mobile devices, web sites, VR and more. Hi-Rez commands the largest legion of players, with more than 70 million people having enjoyed their games. When Hi-Rez launched its latest game, Rogue Company, it picked up a company-record 15 million players when it launched. Tripwire’s latest release, Chivalry 2, sold more than a million copies in just over two months. Every player sees the Georgia peach logo every time they boot up the game, not having to wait until the credits to see its source. Even Georgia studios with just one developer enjoy outsized success. Joe Cassavaugh, owner of Puzzles by Joe, proudly extols the virtues of being a single-person studio, as well as the community that has developed around his Clutter series of games. Even before launching Ki11er Clutter in September, his games brought in an average of more than $16,000/month, with loyal fans buying each new version of the game. Georgia continues to grow promising new studios. Karen Williams, a Columbus State University graduate, founded Hiccup Interactive and livestreams her game development on Twitch. Williams

left her first software job with a battery distribution company to follow her passion for making games. Now president of Atlanta’s chapter of the International Game Developers Association, Williams offers advice for others following her path. “Don’t get sidetracked because you have a big-girl job now,” said Williams. “You want to protect what you’re creating. It’s your baby. Take pride in it.” Even Georgia’s oldest game studios continue to find new fans. Holistic Design Inc. still sells its “Machiavelli the Prince” (published in 1994) and “Emperor of the Fading Suns” (published in 1996) games. “Good games are timeless,” said Chris Wiese, President of Holistic Design. “Just like some people still warmly remember games like Pong and Pac-Man, so too will people be enjoying Georgia games for decades to come.”

September / October 2021


UH-1H Hueys, AH-1F Cobras, OH-58 Kiowa, & O-1E Bird Dog




ARMY AVIATION HERITAGE FOUNDATION OPERATIONS (770) 897-0444 Tues-Sat, 9-5 Fred Edwards – President & Chief Operating Officer armyav.org

MOVIE CREDITS: The Fifth Wave; The Crazies; Fast and Furious 7; Broken Bridges; Point Man; The True Memoirs of an International Assassin, The Last Full Measure. TELEVISION: Drop Dead Diva; The Walking Dead; The Sacrament; The Aviators; The Military Channel; The Discovery Channel; The Military Collectors TV Series. OTHER: Ford Commercial; Miss Saigon (Serenbe Playhouse); The New York Times, Rotor and Wing International Magazine, Playbill Magazine, Mitty Griffis Mirrer (Gold Star Children’s Documentary).

(770) 897-0444 www.armyav.org

TAYLOR ENGLISH DUMA LLP Entertainment Law , . .Q;n LJ __ _:.

WE'RE PAss10NATE AsouT Ej/E\\�M�EJ:H

U\ \'



Representing 1 Above and Below the Line/ j�\ Ji. / {1_,,._ Clients , /. 1 3715 Northcrest Road, Suite 16 Cindy Ganoe Atlanta, GA 30340 (770) 448-0385 ·f// · llln,.,. See our EntertainmentServices at tayloreri'glisn.com orders@ganoinc.com ganosales.tv

�/!:t1 1v . .I

J. :,,:1.:,,: \

Or email us at info@taylorenglish.com


Ph: (770) 794-8106

Email: ayardforyou@fabricsandfringe.com

2440 Canton Road Marietta, GA 30066 WWW.FABRICSANDFRINGE.COM


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

770-990-7232 2300 Main Street Tucker GA, 30084

studio@coferbrothers.com www.coferstudiosupply.com


Restroom Trailers Experience our extensive fleet. With double batteries and solar panels, they are the quietest on set. Plus we have great packages for managing all of your waste — trash and recycling sustainably for your production.

Call Cem (Jim) Drake for a free consultation! ■ o. 678-854-8169 cem.drake@iws-waste.com

c. 678-251-6668 A Division of IWS



FOR ALL YOUR TV & FILM PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT, SOLUTIONS, & RENTAL NEEDS Cameras | Lenses | Lights | Sound Equipment | Blackmagic Design | RED | Litepanels | Rokinon | Xeen | Sony | Canon | Nikon | COOKE | DJI | DRACAST and more!

Seth Patrick Concierge COVID-19 Testing for FILM/PRODUCTION/CORPORATE



September / October 2021





Shea Bryant | shea.bryant@nespresso.com | nespresso.com/pro

Multimedia Production Makeup Artists Stylists & Designers

Call/Text (404-HelpMe2) 404-435-7632 Rhonda@HelpMeRhonda.com Rhonda Barrymore, Founder


Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


Thursday, September 27th 2021

SCAD AnimationFest Virtual Only: 12PM EST Tickets are available on the website. Admission: free for members, 5$ for non members

Thursday, September 27th 2021

Morehouse Human Rights Film Festival Virtual Only: 12PM EST Tickets are available on the website. Admission: free for members, 5$ for non members