Oz Magazine September / October 2019

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OZ MAGAZINE

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019

film. tv. entertainment SINCE 1990




SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019

CONTRIBUTORS OZ MAGAZINE

STAFF Publishers:

Tia Powell (Group Publisher) Gary Powell

Editor-in-Chief: Gary Powell

Managing Editor: Nicole Sage

Sales:

Martha Ronske Kris Thimmesch

Creative Director:

Christopher Campbell Cover Story: Stranger Things Rocks This Town "Upside Down", p.28 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

Michael R. Eilers

Production and Design: Michael R. Eilers Christopher Winley

Social Media Engagement Coordinator Brooke Sonenreich

Feature Story: If Film Permits, p.48 A veteran journalist, Frank Reddy has written for a wide range of mostly Atlanta area publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curbed Atlanta, What Now Atlanta, Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, Gainesville Times and Gwinnett Daily Post. He has won multiple awards from The Associated Press and Georgia Press Association for business writing, feature writing and hard news coverage. Reddy is the author of Eyes on the Island, a debut novel, which was published in 2016 by Fiction Advocate. He recently finished his second novel and hopes to find a publisher soon.

Cover Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

OZ MAGAZINE

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019

film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019

Frank Reddy

film. tv. entertainment SINCE 1990

For Advertising Information:

404.633.1779

Christine Fitzgerald

For Press Release Submission: socialmedia@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 © 2019 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper.

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Feature Story: The Ambition of George Pierre, p.56

Christine Fitzgerald is an Atlanta-based writer. She owns her freelance copywriting business and is the features editor for Socialite Life, where she writes about pop culture and chats with prominent entertainers, including Elvira and the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In addition to her writing, she is often seen working as an extra on locally-produced films and television series and is a member of the Atlanta comedy group Cineprov.


SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019

CONTENTS

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

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FEATURE STORY If Film Permits Road Closure with Cardelia Hunter

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COVER STORY Stranger Things Rocks This Town "Upside Down" Exclusive: Oz interviews five department heads of season 3 of Stranger Things

TALENT STORY 30

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40

30

Tony Holley

Locations Manager

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The Ambition of George Pierre Confessions of a Casting Mind

Extras Casting Director

Amy Parris

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60

Costume Designer

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Tim Ives

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FEATURE STORY

Heather Taylor

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Dylan Kussman O Captain, My Captain! How Dylan Kussman Made His Life Extraordinary

Oz Scene

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GPP Summer Industry Party

Director of Photography Women's Comedy Festival Screening of Chance

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Chris Trujillo

Production Designer

WIFTA hosts Pitch It! Atlanta

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PC&E Rise Against Hunger Event

September / October 2019

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OzCetera ISS Prophouse's array of props

ISS GEORGIA EXPANDS

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ndependent Studio Services of Georgia (ISS) has expanded its operation from a 5000 sq. ft. facility in Fayetteville to a 23,000 sq. ft. facility located in East Point, Georgia. ISS is committed to servicing the prop needs of the growing film and television industry in Georgia with 1000s of hand props from sporting goods, replica food items, large military set pieces, rubber firearms as well as a replica rubber

full-service armory. Their expendables store is fully stocked with everything a prop crew needs to stock up their kit. ISS provides a large selection of breakaway items and a graphic design general store for premade graphic needs. ISS provides an organized display of props plus two prep rooms as a quiet place to break down a script or to prep a show. With the support of their parent

company ISS Los Angeles, sister companies Studio Art & Technology, Studio Graphics and High Desert Theatrical Blanks, ISS Georgia has 40 plus years of experience with access to 1.5 million props and over 200 employees. Many of their props can be seen in Insatiable, Black Panther, Avengers: End Game, Atlanta, Stranger Things, Venom, Ozark and First Man.

COME SCOUT OUR NEW

BUCKHEAD LOCATION

Spa Sydell invites our friends in the Georgia film industry to visit our new flagship location in Buckhead’s newly-constructed Modera building. For over 30 years, Spa Sydell has been Atlanta’s premier choice for spa and aesthetic treatments, and our new space features updated offerings and technologies – all paired with our unmatched expertise. LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT SHOOTING LOCATION?

OUR SPA HAS BEEN FEATURED IN MULTIPLE PRODUCTIONS AND YOURS COULD BE NEXT. CONTACT US AND HELP US FILL YOUR LOCATIONS NEEDS!

MODERA BUCKHEAD | 3005 PEACHTREE ROAD NE, UNIT E, 1ST FLOOR | 4042557757 | SPASYDELL.COM

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Full Count director Robert Eager

Beth Talbert

Kris Bagwell

John Raulet

Daniel Minchew

Tyler Edgarton

Mark Wofford

NEW LEADERSHIP FOR GEORGIA STUDIO & INFRASTRUCTURE ALLIANCE

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h e G e o rg ia Stu d io & I n f r a s t r u c tu re Alliance, the organization dedicated solely to representing local investment in Georgia’s film and television production industry, recently elected a new leadership team that will steer the group through the next two years. Beth Talbert, head of Eagle Rock Studios, is the newly elected president of the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance. Kris Bagwell, the founder of the Alliance and executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios, remains on the leadership team as immediate past president. Other newly elected officers include John Raulet, Alliance president-elect and partner at Mailing Avenue Stageworks; Daniel Minchew, Alliance secretary and owner of Studio Space Atlanta and Atlanta Filmworks; Tyler Edgarton, Alliance treasurer and partner at Mailing Avenue Stageworks; and Mark Wofford, infrastructure board chairman and general manager of PC&E. Talber t of Eagle Rock Studios which currently serves Netflix’s Ozark and OWN’s Greenleaf productions states, “I’m excited to continue the great work of this group of Georgia companies,” says Talbert. “We are and will continue to be all about supporting the film industry. We live here; we work here; our families are growing up here. We are fully committed to supporting Georgia film and television production because it’s our local businesses and communities that are the beneficiaries of this thriving industry.” Founded in 2014, the Alliance is anchored by a core group of studios that includes At l a n t a F i l mwo r k s Stu d io s , Ea g l e Ro c k

Studios, EUE/Screen Gems Studios, Mailing Avenue Stageworks, and Triple Horse Studios. Infrastructure members — companies that provide support services to production studios and their clients — include Cofer Bros., Crafty Apes, Enterprise Entertainment, Production Rentals, Herc Entertainment Rentals, Lightnin’ Produc tion Rentals, Moonshine PostProduction, PC&E, and Sim Digital Inc. “As a stand-alone organization, our laser focus is championing the long-term benefits of this industry for Georgia’s workforce. The roster of companies who make up the Alliance illustrates how broad the impact of production is across the state,” says Bagwell, of EUE/ Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta, which hosted Stranger Things and Black Panther. “Beth is a very passionate and an experienced studio executive and the right person to lead the Alliance forward.” The Alliance represents its members to the Georgia General Assembly, the Georgia Depar t ment of Economic Development , and any other state entities dealing with the regulation of the entertainment industry. A key initiative of the Alliance is its ongoing sharing of stories about Georgians building careers and changing their lives through employment and opportunity in the state’s film and television industry. “It's the Alliance’s role to support those productions, and the Georgians who work on them, in any way we can,” says Minchew, who hosted AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire at Atlanta Filmworks Studio. “And it’s also important for companies like ours to have a united voice about important issues affecting the industry.”

REEL ONE LANDS DISTRIBUTION DEAL

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uckhead Film Group and Reel One Entertainment Worldwide announced that Vertical Entertainment has acquired the North American rights for Robert Eagar’s faith-based sports drama, Full Count. The film is slated for a U.S. theatrical and VOD release in the fall of 2019. Full Count tells the story of an unfortunate chain of events that force a young baseball phenom to give up his dreams of playing college baseball and return home to the farm and town he fought so hard to escape. The feature film has already received a Dove Seal of Approval for its faith and integrity themes and content. Full Count stars John Paul Kakos in his film debut as the lead character. The feature also stars Emmy winner Natalia Livingston (G ener a l H osp i ta l ), E . Ro g e r M i tc h e l l (American Made, The Equalizer), Adam Boyer (Ozark, Superfly), 3-time Emmy winner Rick Hearst (General Hospital, Guiding Light), Afemo Omilami (Forrest Gump, Saints and Sinners), Victoria Staley (I’m Not Ashamed, Prisoners) and Jason London (The Second Coming of Christ, Dazed and Confused ). Robert Eagar helmed the project as director, writer, and executive producer. Martin Kelley, Eddie Singleton and Bennie Swint serve as producers, and Jamie Wingler and Laron Austin serve as co-producers. Veteran faithbased filmmaker Joth Riggs (Heartfall, Push) rounds out the producing team as consulting producer. Th e d ea l w a s n e g ot ia te d by J o s h Spector at Vertical Entertainment and Martin Kelley on behalf of Reel One Entertainment Worldwide and Robert Eagar at Buckhead Film Group. Full Count was shot in Atlanta and Oconee County, Georgia with mainly local cast and crew. September / October 2019

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OzCetera Smooth-On's Ultimate Blood Kit

Hopper's Cabin from Stranger Things

ATLANTA MOVIE TOURS GOES UPSIDE DOWN

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tlanta Movie Tours (AMT) celebrates season three of Netflix’s Stranger Things with the launch of the Atlanta Upside Down Tour. The tour highlights recognizable Georgia locations standing in as Hawkins, Indiana, Chicago and more from this Georgialensed fan favorite. The Upside Down Tour stops features the arcade, sheriff’s station, pumpkin patch, Hopper’s cabin, the entrance to the “upside down” and much more. AMT staff entertain guests with behind the scenes stories. Carrie Burns, owner of AMT shares, "This is a tour we have wanted to start since season one but needed that awesome season 3 to drop. When it did, we all watched and examined the entire season over a dozen times to ensure we were picking up on all the little location nuances that make the show so great. We take all of that into the tour and have built a great experience for fans to feel like they're really a part of the Stranger Things magic that Georgia provides as a location."

THE BIG GOO NEWS!

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he Engineer Guy is Atlanta’s one-stop shop for materials to bring make-up and SFX projects to life. Their wide range of materials includes mold making and casting products, special effect supplies, professional make-up, cosplay materials and more. Nelson Burke founded The Engineer Guy and has been a distributor of Smooth-On materials and other products used by industry professionals. Since 2002, The Engineer Guy has been creating movie special effects for a variety of applications including making molds for thermoforming plastics, casting concrete, prototyping and making composite parts. As of July 2019, The Engineer Guy is now a part of the Reynolds Advanced Materials distribution network, which is a Smooth-On, Inc. company. Burke will remain involved and

active with Reynolds Atlanta moving forward and says, “This is the right move. Joining the Reynolds and Smooth-On family will provide exactly the resources that are needed to expand our ability to serve our customers as the stakeholder-partners we have always strived to be and will continue to do so going forward.” Smooth-On vice president Clay Western adds, “All of us at the Smooth-On organization has alway s great l y valued and enjoyed supporting The Engineer Guy as our partner in the Southeast. We very much look forward to working with the ‘EGuy’ team as they join the Reynolds network to continue offering the best products and technical support available in Atlanta and surrounding areas.”

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September / October 2019

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OzCetera Quiana Scott

Critical Crop Top’s production team Behind the scenes

Quiana Scott Joins The Whitley

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or 30 years the iconic Whitley Hotel has served the community of Buckhead. Re ce n t l y e l e v a te d t o T h e L u x u r y Collection, part of the luxury brand portfolio of Marriott International, The Whitley has appointed Quiana Scott as their new senior sales manager. Bringing more than a decade of hospitality experience in the luxury market, Scot t oversees both the enter tainment and group segments. Scott is committed to remaining easily accessible as a bespoke resource for all of Georgia’s film and TV entertainment and production needs. With an awe-inspiring view of Atlanta’s skyline outside and timeless sophistication inside, The Whitley recently completed a multi-million dollar transformation of 507 guest rooms including 56 suites, a spa, club lounge, the lobby and public spaces. The Whitley, a Luxury Collection Hotel, offers luxury in chic Southern style.

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

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DP Katherine Brennan

CRITICAL CROP TOP SHORT WINS

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ritical Crop Top Media has been enjoying success on the festival circuit with their short film, Dick Pic Professional, written a n d d i re c te d by S a r a h A l i s o n H o d g e s . Inspired by a Huffington Post article about a professional photographer, the comedy short explores the absurdity of modern online dating through the “mockumentary” lens of a fictional, avant-garde photographer and her unusual clients. The short recently screened at the Atlanta Women’s Comedy Film Festival and was awarded Best Mockumentary. Critical Crop Top Media also recently completed post production on their latest short film, The Parts That Stay. Crewed almost entirely by women, including the director, cinematographer, location and sound person,

the film stars Julie Jones Ivey and Patrick Morgan and is direc ted by Sarah Alison Hodges. A bit of a departure from their usual mix of broad comedy and political satire, the film tells the story of two sisters, Kate and Jessie, as they navigate opposing feelings about their mother on the day of her funeral while also dealing with an overenthusiastic funeral director who keeps trying to up-sell them on additional perks. “I thought about my own kids. What would they say about me when I’m gone? Would it all be good things? We wanted to tell a simple story about how we remember the people we love,” says the film’s writer and one of its stars,Nicole Kemper.

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September / October 2019

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OzCetera Beau Jardin grounds

Optimum's 90s style sitcom intro

BEAU JARDIN HOSTS Mister REACH

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ptimum Produc tions of Alpharet ta selected location Beau Jardin Stables in Stone Mountain to shoot its recent AD campaign featuring NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo. Optimum’s spot for cyber-security company

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Cheq featuring the 7'2" NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo as “Mister Reach” in a 90s style sitcom intro. Mutombo’s character is shown in quick vignettes giving each family member the “reach” they need - grabbing cookies off the top shelf for the daughter, recovering the son’s

toy car from under the bed. The 90-second spot includes ten unique indoor and outdoor scenes from the 18-acre property. All the exterior and interior shots were captured in a single day.


September / October 2019

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OzCetera Applying finishing touches for a vintage clown look - All photos by Rachel Schulman Barnhard

Make-up artists detailing an FX scar Model Tupelo Honey and costume manager Marie Quintero

NORCOSTCO LENSES UNIQUE BEAUTY

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he Norcostco Atlanta Costume collaborated with East Atlanta’s Metropolitan Studios to host various production industry artists. Costumers, make-up artists, performers, and photographers of all backgrounds volunteered their time and skills to produce a stunning array of photographs to highlight the diversity of the Atlanta community. What began as a marketing photo shoot quickly transformed into a passionate social commentary highly relevant in the current social climate. “We realized that our previous marketing was neither inclusive nor representative of our customer base. Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard as a company to expand our size range in costumes as well as our color and product selection in make-up. It is important to everyone, both professionally and personally, that our theatre, film and artistic community feel welcomed and inspired when working with us. Norcostco holds a strong company policy of inclusion regardless of race, sexuality, gender or size. This project was our opportunity to lead by example through community outreach and support, going above and beyond the obvious marketing goals,” stated Marie Quintero of Norcostco. The project took several weeks to organize with a total team of 26 people working both in front of and behind the camera. Quintero, costume rental manager, headed up the project with the full support of branch manager and make-up artist Meghan Bernstein. Looking for a diverse group of talent to act as models, Quintero reached out to friend and colleague Roula Roulette, co-owner of Metropolitan Studios. Several key make-up artists from the film community jumped on board to participate including a veteran of the make-up industry, Face Off star Jasmine Ringo. Costumes and make-up looks were hand selected and customized for each of the thirteen models participating in the shoot. The models in the project are inclusive of varying ages, sizes, and color, and represent a broad range of identities across the LGBTQIA spectrum. “The cool thing about projects like this is that’s what theatre is all about” added Bernstein. “Inclusiveness. Feeling like you belong. You come together and create something amazing.” With the success of this inceptive collaboration, plans are already being made to revisit the project to expand the diversity statement even further.

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September / October 2019

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OzCetera

SIEGE HEADING OUR WAY

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he 13 th annual Southern Interac tive Entertainment and Game Expo is set for October 13 -15th in Atlanta, Georgia. SIEGE is the largest professional game development conference in the South, with tracks addressing game design, p ro gramming , ar t , audio, business, and serious games. “SIEGE attracts seminal leaders in the game industr y,” said Andrew Greenberg, SIEGE conference director. “This year, SIEGE’s keynote speaker is Nick Laing, senior publishing producer for Amazon Games. Laing will give

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

insights into producing games, working with producers and becoming a producer. Laing is one of those rare people who has handled almost every game development role there is. From game design to audio to art to production and more, few people have as keen an insight into what makes a good game as does he.” SIEG E sessions will cover game ar t , audio, business, design, programming and more. Featured sessions include analyses by some of the world’s leading virtual reality game developers, concept art sessions with

renowned ar tist, in-depth discussions on how to reach and best serve new customers, workshops on livestreaming, panels on how to break into the industry and more. The event also showcases a College Fair for high school students and a Digital Media Investment Conference. Other highlighted events include the IndieGame Extravaganza and Portfolio Review, the Excellence in Indie Game Development Awards, the Game Developer Rants, and the Game Developer Smackdown.


September / October 2019

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SPONSORED CONTENT DPS/Extreme Color is proud to be a preferred vendor for many of the film and TV projects in Georgia. -Todd O’Neil, DPS/Extreme Color vice president

E M E R EXT COLOR

From DPS T

he Digital Printing Solutions/Extreme Color is a local family owned business dedicated to providing high quality printing and routing services to the film and TV industry in Georgia. Digital Printing Solutions (DPS) started out as a local print shop providing services to the construction industry in Georgia. As time moved on and color became more popular, we created our color graphics & signage division, Extreme Color. This allowed us to concentrate on the high end color graphics market with a strong focus on the film and TV industry. Under the brand of DPS, the company offers equipment rentals for the on-set printing needs of each production. Extreme Color handles all the large format graphics, signage & custom routing services for the movie and television industry in Georgia. Our ability to react quickly to the industries fast paced needs has allowed us to grow within this market. We continually receive referrals from past productions for new shows. DPS has added additional staff to accommodate our growth and to ensure that we always react quickly to each production’s needs.

Our state-of-the-art technology, equipment and staff delivers outstanding graphics and provides professional on-set installations to film and TV productions statewide. “We provide large format and office copier printing/scanning equipment onsite that allows the film crew to print and scan drawings for the construction of studio sets as well as produce most graphics seen in the show. We have provided in-house printing and routing services for: Stranger Things, Ozark, MacGyver, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Fate of the Furious to name a few. Services provided to the movie and TV industry include vehicle wraps (cars, planes and helicopters), along with high-end graphics on vinyl, canvas, acrylics, Sintra board, ultraboard, banner, wood and ACM and a variety of specialty substrates. DPS/Extreme Color has recently upgraded our 5’ x 10’ router to accommodate the industries CNC routing requirements and complement our high end flatbed printer.

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September / October 2019

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OzCetera Ascend's insert camera car

ED STAMM JOINS ASCEND AERIALS

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he Ascend Aerials, an Atlanta based specialty camera movement company, welcomes Ed Stamm (former VP at ARRI Rentals) as their new marketing representative. Stamm comes to Ascend Aerials with many years of experience in the motion picture and commercial industry supplying state of the art film and digital cameras to many professionals in Chicago, Dallas, Florida and Atlanta. After retiring from ARRI Rentals in 2018, Stamm

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joined forces with Louie Northern, founder of Ascend Aerials, with the objective of continuing to grow their drone and insert car offerings in Georgia and surrounding states. Ascend Aerials specializes in camera movement, utilizing drone platforms, insert camera car work, Ultra Arm camera car work, handheld MoVi work, and remote camera car work. The company started operations in 2014 and logged hundreds of hours of flight and

film experience, utilizing teams of Local 600 professionals. “I’m very excited to join the Ascend Aerials team and bring my many years of relationships in the camera world together with a ver y talented team of innovators in the camera movement world. Seeing how well-oiled and professional Louie and his team members fly the drone specialty camera and drive the insert car with its Ultra Arm is amazing,” says Stamm.


SEPT. 26–28 SCAD ATLANTA

SPECIAL SCREENINGS DEMOS BY PROS FUN FOR ALL

Get your tix now | scad.edu/animationfest

September / October 2019

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OzCetera

MOVIE FLYING HISTORY

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ounded in 1997 to help increase public awareness of military aviation history, A r my Av iat io n H eri t age F oun dat io n (AAHF) restores and maintains flyable Army aircraft, including UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) and AH-1 Cobras. Recent additions to AAHF include direc tor of operations, Steve Wages and administrative assistant of operations, Nichole Dawson. Wages served in the U.S. Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard as an HH-60G Combat Rescue Helicopter pilot in the 210th RQS. After leaving the Air Guard, he returned to Georgia to continue his aviation career f irst as a mechanic, then moving to sales, ERP software implementation and business management . He has worked at various aviation companies including Gulfstream

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Nichole Dawson and Steve Wages

Aerospace, Zodiac Aerospace, Bell Helicopter and Avgroup. Dawson served in the U.S. Army as an aviation hydraulics repairer in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. Following ten years of service and three combat tours overseas, her passion for helicopters led Dawson to the AAHF. “I could not be happier in this position with our amazing staff and volunteers.” For the film industry, AAHF has a selection of aircraft including fixed-wing models available for use. Their flyable aircraft includes the UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra, and O-1E Bird Dog. The AAHF “bone yard” includes a variety of aircraft hulls used as props for crash scenes and static displays. Their inventory also includes Hueys and Cobras at different levels of restoration, an

OV-1 Mohawk, civilian planes, and more. Dawson served in the U.S. Army as an aviation hydraulics repairer in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. Following ten years of service and three combat tours overseas, her passion for helicopters led Dawson to the AAHF. “I could not be happier in this position with our amazing staff and volunteers.” For the film industry, AAHF has a selection of aircraft including fixed-wing models available for use. Their flyable aircraft includes the UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra, and O-1E Bird Dog. The AAHF “bone yard” includes a variety of aircraft hulls used as props for crash scenes and static displays. Their inventory also includes Hueys and Cobras at different levels of restoration, an OV-1 Mohawk, civilian planes, and more.


YOU STAY FOCUSED ON THE PRODUCTION WE’LL STAY FOCUSED ON THE BOOKS Certified Public Accountants Specializing in Bookkeeping, Taxes, and Audits for the Film industry

Jeffrey Umberger

UMBERGER JOINS ACM TALENT

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effrey Umberger, longtime voiceover agent and founder of Atlanta’s Umberger Agency, is joining ACM Talent as their new voiceover talent manager. Umberger will be broadening the New York and Los Angeles based management company with an Atlanta office. ACM Talent represents VO talent in commercials, on-air promos, trailers, narrations, animation in local, national and international jobs. “Jeffrey is one of the most well respected, knowledgeable and kindest talent agents in the industry,” said ACM co-founders Marc Guss and Phil Sutfin in a statement. “His entrepreneurial spirit and amazing ear for talent makes him a valuable addition to our voiceover management team, and we can’t wait to get started.” Umberger intends to continue his efforts for his celebrity clients such as Louis Gossett, Jr., Jasmine Guy, Megan Hayes and Amber Nash. “The VO business is swiftly evolving and changing every day, and the way in which talent is represented for VO is evolving as well. ACM Talent is redefining voice talent representation with its mindful approach to going ‘over and above’ for talent with its powerhouse team of managers and marketers providing abundant opportunities in an extremely robust way,” says Umberger. “I’m looking forward to getting started with this new chapter in my career. The teamwork and national reach were essential elements in my decision to join forces with ACM.”

September / October 2019

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OzCetera

Hawks Studios Win with Kia

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ecently-launched Hawks Studios, the in-house creative team of the Atlanta Hawks focused on creating innovative, buzz worthy and original content to grow re la t io n ship s w i t h t he clu b’s co r p o r a te partners, won a Golden Matrix Award (GMA) from the Information Display and Entertainment Association (IDEA) at the 37th Annual IDEA Conference in San Diego. Hawks Studios earned its GMA in the “Best Promotional Video” category. The awardwinning video depicts an activation for Kia, the official vehicle of the Atlanta Hawks. On site at a local dealership, guests were encouraged to test-drive a Kia or attempt a basketball shot to win two free tickets to an upcoming Hawks’ game. To the participants’ surprise, the shot

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attempt would take place lined up one-onone against former Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon, who stands at seven feet tall. “We are honored to receive this Golden Matrix Award,” said Hawks’ chief revenue officer Andrew Saltzman. “In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate partnerships, creating compelling and unique content with our partners has never been more important. We continue to invest in building our content and production capabilities, all under the Hawks Studios umbrella, which is paying off for both our organization and our partners.” Heading up Hawks Studios is Hawks’ senior vice president and executive director Matt Bunting, who has nearly two decades of production and creative experience at Turner

Matt Bunting and the Hawks Studios winning team

Broadcasting. Serving as an integral member of the team is production manager Natalie Hendricks, who was recognized as a Rising Star on the annual Synopsis’ Top Women in Media list. Filming, producing and editing the content is senior producer Dan Bartlett, Sr. content producer James Dawkins, producer Andy Collins, and digital content producer Zach Fletcher. “Our goal at Hawks Studios is to tell the story of our teams in a unique and emotional style while playing a role in redefining the ways that culture and sports interact,” said Bunting. “We hope to provide multi-platform content that truly engages our fans and revolutionizes the way advertisers connect with their audiences.”


September / October 2019

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How I got into the business

GABY AGUILAR,

Gaby Aguilar, fourth from right, on set with Jumanji star, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

OWNER, THE SOUTHERN SPOON

I

t has taken Gabriela "Gaby" Aguilar about five years to reinvent herself on a professional path that led her from divorce and a negative bank balance, to special films producer and actor stand-in, and finally, to the owner of The Southern Spoon (TSS) crafty and catering business. TSS serves film crews across Georgia. No stranger to life's ebbs and flows, when Aguilar found herself newly single, she buckled in to learn a new skill, discovered her passion while doing so, and now counts The Southern Spoon as a definite "flow" on her culinary business journey. She has the client list to back it up. Gaby, as friends in the film industry call her, is no stranger to out-of-the-box thinking, tenacity and perseverance. She leads with a hug, a contagious smile and an encapsulating energy that seems the antithesis of one who is grounded in a survivalist mentality. But other gifts expand the list. She has closed contracts, and lost just as many; found jobs quickly, and hunted down others for months; made a profit one week, then fallen in the red the next. But such is the life of this entrepreneur who has learned from experience that giving up is not an option, and staying the course is the key to success. "I found a job as a server at a local bar where I was making fifty bucks a day and was hardly able to pay my bills. But I had a dream, and I kept turning over any leaf I found . . . every single leaf.” When one of those "leaves" turned out to be an opportunity with her current business partner, Tom Burke, she knew in her gut it was the chance of a lifetime, and she accepted the challenge and ran with it. In 2018, Aguilar and Burke purchased two food trailers and opened a craft services business to primarily serve the film industry. Wielding a positive

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attitude and focusing on resolving conflicts and challenges, Aguilar found success with 24-hour days and nights filled with people management issues, time constraints and creating magic with tight budgets. Within their first year, they had landed contracts with major film franchises like Jumanji, The Conjuring and many more. Within two years of TSS’s launch, Aguilar has collected some impressive credits, including business collaborations

“Necessity can make you discover talents you didn’t even know you had, and I 'odd-jobbed' my way right into a new passion. I love what I do . . . making people happy with food. It is the biggest reward to me. If the word ‘food’ is part of it, I want to be there.” - GABY AGUILAR

with food stylist Joel Silver, executives from The Master Chef television show and the award-winning Netflix show, Stranger Things. Admittedly, Aguilar doesn't work alone, and attributes much of her success to a prep team that has become her family. As she puts it when she refers to them, "I could never have done it on my own, and no matter what, I will always host them at my table and hold them in my heart."


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September / October 2019

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STRî•?NGER THINGS

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990


CREATING 1980s

HAWKINS, INDIANA IN 2019

GEORGIA By: Christopher Campbell

T

he success of Stranger Things, which returned with record-breaking

viewership in July, is due to a number of factors, including the ever evolving narrative and artistic innovation that keeps the fans interested and begging for more. Most of the credit goes to the series’ visionary creators, Matt and Ross Duffer (aka the Duffer Brothers). But also deserving of recognition are the many crew members who’ve turned the Duffers’ vision into a reality by transforming modern day Georgia into 1980s Indiana.

This year’s third season was

anything but more of the same for the hit Netflix series. As the story of kids battling monsters in small-town America continued into the summer of 1985, we saw changes that were realized through a combination of talents. The show reached a turning point in terms of its setting and its characters. To get there, Stranger Things required impeccable effort from every department involved in the production.

Oz Magazine talked to five

department heads, those in charge of locations, extras casting, costume design, cinematography and production design of Stranger Things, to learn what goes into making one of the most popular and most iconic series of our time.

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COVER STORY

L O C AT I O N S M A N AG E R

TONY HOLLEY CHANNELING THE 1980S HOOSIER STATE

T

ony Holley is a Georgia native who has been scouting locations locally for years. He rose to become location manager, responsible for not only finding, but also securing and overseeing shooting locations throughout the production. At the end of Stranger Things season 3, he was promoted again to the position of supervising location manager, handling shooting locations in multiple cities and for multiple units. OZ: For Stranger Things, you were tasked with two challenges: the 1980s and Indiana. Is the Midwest easy to translate in Georgia? TH: Indiana was selected originally just to be a little on the generic side: Anywhere USA, geographically speaking. The middle of the country was selected somewhat strategically to make it so that anywhere we film, being in Georgia, it wouldn't be that incongruous. There are some plants that are not native to Indiana, and someone who is very discerning might be able to pick up on that, but by and large the seasons are kind of the same, though we don't have as much of a rough winter season as Indiana might.

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The Duffer Bros taking a dip in the Hawkins Community Swimming Pool filmed in Southeast Atlanta

What was the most difficult thing about getting the time period right? When I have to find a location, the only thing that's super challenging from the period perspective is if we're going to end up in someone's kitchen, or their bathroom. Otherwise the materials haven't really changed. You still use brick and sheetrock and all that, and the types of houses, they're the same. Obviously, the modernist aesthetic is a little bit different when there are a lot of concrete houses going up, but I'm never going to look at those houses for Stranger Things. Things that only exist or definitely would have existed in the time period have to be thought of when you're out scouting. You can't go to a house and directly across the street there's a McMansion or a new modern build or whatever. That's constantly part of the bible of scouting for the show. At least the 270-degree surrounding the location, if not the 360, has to have existed in the ‘80s. The type of town setting we're working in kind of helps me, because it's

a fairly small town and the things I have to bring the production from a location perspective aren't impossible. It's not impossible to find a brick and mortar retail store or a house that has largely not been updated. They still exist, I guess. We established most of the houses in season 1. The standing sets that we see every season, those are actual sets. The only time we go to the Wheeler house, it’s the outside of the house. Sometimes we'll go inside doorways, but the interiors are on a sound stage. Do you typically use a sound stage for interiors? From a period, perspective, yes. For an episodic series, your standing sets will be built; the things you're going to return to over and over again. It gives you a place that's not impacted by weather, and it doesn't matter if it's day or night. That’s what the stage set becomes, a safe place. We've done a few houses outside of season 1 that have been practical, but by and large, we don't go into the rooms where it is going to be difficult. Or, if we do, that's when I have to find something that's


“The middle of the country was selected somewhat strategically to make it so that anywhere we film, being in Georgia, it wouldn't be that incongruous.” period appropriate throughout, and then it gets more challenging. Barb's house in season 2, the interior was an example of that. Season 3 definitely did not live in small spaces. Everything in the world was so much bigger in season 3. Were you asked by the Duffers to find anything specific looking as far as being totally ‘80s? They wrote to the period in which the show existed. That's why we had an arcade, and that's why we had a mall as a bigger location in season 3. What about anything that looked like something specific from ‘80s pop culture? There’s no request to find the Amityville House or the house from The Goonies or anything like that. There's nothing that's that much of a call out. In season 3, the show moves in a new direction and that’s reflected in the progression of the time period and how locations in the town represent that. How did you help in getting that across? The way that dichotomy of the old way and the new way was portrayed was this: we took downtown Hawkins, which we actually kind of expanded upon a little bit in season 3 by bringing in the newspaper office location, and we tried to make it look as if it wasn't doing as well. You'll notice in season 3 that half of downtown is vacant or going out of business because of the impact the mall is having on it. We aged downtown a little bit…the storefronts…because they're not getting as much business. We closed a few stores to make them look like they were going out of business as well.

The flip of that is the mall itself. It was made to look brand new because it's the new kid in town. The mall is very bright, very inviting and very warm, the way it was constructed and decorated and lit and everything else. There was definitely a play between the change in consumerism that began with the introduction of the mall to American life. Did you also shoot less in Jackson, Georgia . . . aka “downtown Hawkins” . . . because it’s outside the 30-mile zone and therefore more expensive? Yes. The fact that Jackson's outside the zone does make us schedule and visit it less in a broad sense. Usually we're going to shoot two episodes at a time. First and second episode together, third and fourth, fifth and sixth, and so on. We did not do that in Jackson because of the fact that it's outside the zone. We basically clumped all the Jackson work into two different visits to get it done. What brings us into Jackson, or what used to at least, was primarily the store where Joyce worked. Now that Melvald's [General Store] isn't doing as well, she just didn't stay in that space as much in terms of the story. The other part of downtown that we established this season, the Hawkins Post, was not actually in Jackson. It was in a town inside the zone. So, we could go there as it was scripted in our block structure. Has it been difficult to secure

locations, such as character homes, over the years? At least one spot, the quarry, is no longer available, right? We're definitely more forward-thinking now. Thinking about what kind of impact it's going to have on us if we want to do [a certain location] in a follow up season. If the Duffers said we want to go back to the quarry, we could, but it would just be a different rock quarry because that one no longer exists. Or it would look vastly different than it looked in season 1. We eye toward the future with most of our location work now because I build future options into every location we contract, for the most part. What was your process for finding Starcourt Mall? Not that much different from any other location. This one was just so big in scope that it's more challenging because of how large it is. It's the location for season 3 I spent the most time on trying to find. I made it fairly clear to everyone that we were not going to find a completely closed mall because the metro area presently doesn't have one. We'd be relegated or stuck with the underutilized or slowly dying mall, of which there really aren't many of those around either. The mall, surprisingly enough, has experienced a bit of a resurgence in the last few years. Most of the regional malls are being populated and housed by more local chain stores as opposed to big national brand stores. There really weren't that many wonderful The Starcourt Mall by night and Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth by day.

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“If the Duffers said we want to go back to the quarry, we could, but it would just be a different rock quarry because that one no longer exists.” options. We had a few to choose from of varying degrees of underutilization or availability. The one that we chose to work with had the emptiest space in it. Roughly 25 percent of an entire quadrant of the mall, with the exception of the anchor store, was completely empty. Did you have to make sure it had more of a 1980s look? The mall hasn't changed that much over the decades. By and large, the size of the stores is the same. There’s going to be big anchors that draw you into those other stores to feed along the way. Because there was so much that was going to take place at the mall, I couldn't get hung up on “does it have this store,” or “does it have that sort of look to it.” The idea was to basically make every store that's inside the mall something that existed in early to mid '80s. I think there are two stores that never existed before inside the mall. One of those is the ice cream shop. Was there anything specific you needed that Gwinnett Place Mall lacked? It didn't have a movie theater attached to it. We built the facade of the movie theater inside the set and then we shot a practical movie theater to tie it together. The anchor store was actually still in operation in that mall, and its second floor became the movie theater facade. How tough was it to manage the mall location during production? At first, the sheer magnitude of how large it is was a challenge. It’s kind of hard to get your mind around the fact that your location has 40 other locations in it because there are 40 storefronts inside. That compounds with the fact that one corner of your set is an active business and another corner of your set is an open mall 32

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Mayor Kline's (Cary Elwes) future is so bright at Hawkins' County Fun Fair shot on location in Fairburn, Georgia

that's still in operation. There were a lot of ways to get into our set that we didn’t have any control over because there are back of the house corridors in malls and hallways that I don't have control over because I'm not leasing the entire mall. It was a heavy lift to secure and hold and not give away to the public what we were doing. Because it's a big show, a hit, the studio did not want us to let any information, any leaks, to get out. We had privacy fencing as soon as storefronts started to go up in February of last year, and they didn't come down until [season 3 premiered]. I've had 24 hour security at the mall even since we wrapped. People got through during that time, though, right? People definitely got in. It was a nearly impossible task. Yeah. People would stay in the mall after hours, and once the mall closed, wherever they were hiding out, they would just walk around and walk into our set. That happened a number of times. Why couldn’t Starcourt have just been built on a sound stage? Too big. The ground floor to the ceiling, which was practical on that set, was close to 50 feet. And there was interplay between the ground floor and second floor constantly. It was not feasible to build a set like that on a sound stage. If you have a

two-story house on a sound stage, the first and the second floor are on the ground and you just connect them in editing with a cut between them going up and down the stairs. Each floor of a set is going to be on the "ground" on stage. Sound stages have 30-40 feet clear span, and we needed like 70-80 feet to put that big of a set onto. It wasn't really a question of “can we just build it.” Is there anything you’d like to see in season 4? I’d be excited doing stuff in season 4 that wasn't exclusively in “Hawkins," just from my career perspective. If they told me, and I'm not saying this as anything that's happening by the way, with the Byers leaving Hawkins in season 3 that we really want them to move to Hawaii, for example, or if they wanted to move to Portland, Oregon, or wherever they wanted to move…and then there's wherever the story goes with respect to what's happening in Kamchatka, Russia. We’re not going to film in Russia, but they may have a unit that shoots in Romania or wherever for a month. From a professional viewpoint, I welcome that because I'd like to grow in this industry and the job as well. I have no idea where season 4 is going. I just know people who were fixtures in the town of Hawkins are presently not in Hawkins.


COVER STORY

EXTR AS CASTI NG DIR ECTOR

HEATHER TAYLOR

BANKING ON BACKGROUND PERFORMERS IN GEORGIA

T

he 1980s are remembered for its materialism and consumerism, the decade of the “yuppie”, MTV, malls and “greed is good.” How does one know what an authentic ‘80s look of patrons in Hawkins, Indiana looks like? Painting the scene of a mall, school, and the Hawkins town fair with a database of dependable background players is Heather Taylor, the head of Casting TaylorMade, a boutique agency that pairs background performers with movie and television productions throughout Georgia, including all three seasons of Stranger Things.

OZ: What is your biggest task in populating 1980s Hawkins for Stranger Things? HT: My job is to find the people that have that authentic classic look, not the ones that look contemporary. It’s just a different type of look. I make it very wellknown, several times a year, for everyone to please not cut your hair or let your

Background players at the mall lining up for their Orange Julius

hairstyles get shaggy. Let us be able to do what we want to do with your hair because hair is what sells it. Our department head of hair, Sarah [Hindsgaul], and I work together to make sure we're getting the right look. That's how we've been doing it since day one. Now, with season 3, there are different things that were more popular. Its just really hilarious what people allow us to do whatever we want to do with their hair. We did many perms.

“Actors were very excited to have a Netflix production in Atlanta.” Was it difficult in the beginning to find so many willing people? Very hard. I had to beg people [to do stuff with their hair]. I was passionate about [the show] because they hired me early on. I really loved the show. I felt that it was super cool because nothing related specifically to an adult, teen or kid market, because all three levels of people

in the family could watch. I'm like, well, I hope they hire good kids. That was the first thing that went through my head: this show is going to rely completely on the kids. It was an awesome crew. Everyone was starting on the same page, and we became a family. I got to know the kids, and I thought, “this show is incredible; this is going to be an insane success.” I banked on the background performers in Georgia to believe me. I feel like I'm a good salesperson and I did a hard sell. Actors were very excited to have a Netflix production in Atlanta. They were excited to be part of something that Netflix was doing, and that brought a lot of attention with just the word Netflix. So, I was very lucky. How has the extras casting process changed since the show became a big hit? We had an open call [for season 3], and over 200,000 people responded. It was incredible to see how many people wanted to apply. I think I had to spend a week going through all of them; it was insane. I had to comb through it because we had several people from all over the world

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applying, and then we narrowed it down to places where people could drive [from] easily. Then we would narrow them down again to people that had the right size and weight and dimensions that would be right for costumes. From there we would make sure, out of those people, which ones had the best hair. Then we would start making sure those people knew that in two months we needed them to be ready, because we would need their hair this way. I’ve had people that I've talked to for over six months getting them prepared for their role on Stranger Things. No joke. They have gone to such an extra measure that their whole aesthetic is 100 percent ‘80s and ready for it. We also had a casting for marching bands, and we had, I think, just on that casting, 60,000 people apply.

“We had an open call [for season 3] and had over 200,000 people responded. It was incredible to see how many people wanted to apply.” Do they need to bring their own wardrobes? We're more spoiled and luckier for this show, being on our third season. I think that we were given more allowance to have more actors dressed by the costume department. But in the beginning, we had actors just working in wardrobe they Background players enjoying the Hawkins Fun Fair.

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Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Extras Casting Director Heather Taylor with Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown

brought. All of our background players truly love to be in character. Some of them would literally go and buy stuff at thrift stores and vintage stores like, “Hey, we just picked up these sneakers that'll be so rad for Stranger Things. We can't wait to wear them next season.” They're always thinking of costumes. People would bring their options with them and then [the costume department] would combine some of the things that they had with the things that the extras brought to make an outfit look exactly like what they wanted.

Our usual bigger scenes were for the town and the Will search party in the beginning. This season had full-fledged giant scenes: Hawkins town fair, the community pool and of course, Starcourt Mall. We did a hundred perms, we had to make sure people didn't have tattoos for the pool scenes. It's not that easy. You get the people who want to be that hipster type and retro with their '80s looks, but they all have these little tattoos that are trendy right now. We're looking for the most authentic look.

How did you facilitate the bigger crowd scenes to populate for season 3? This was a huge scale compared to what we have been used to. With the incredible submissions that we had, it was really exciting to be able to hire a lot of people.

Were there also fans of the show just trying to get on set? Yes, of course. Denise [Godoy], Stranger Things unit publicist, has always been extremely on point, and we always work with Netflix to make sure that they approved our emails, our language and everything that we use to make sure we find the most appropriate background players. We had a couple of people that were big fans that wanted to Instagram, and of course, that was not allowed. They were asked to please leave in the most gracious way, they understood that they had broken the policy, as they signed an NDA and that went against it. For the most part, I'm able to feel out people within the time that we book them. We get to know these people, even though it's not on the phone or in person, the fact that we communicate to them so often and have so many questions to ask them, they have to respond in a certain manner. To be considered and to make it to the


Background players swimming the dream

actual casting day, they had to do a lot to get there. So, we can weed someone out when they feel kind of shady. Some people get by and you're like, okay, maybe this person is a little too excited. Do the Duffers give you parameters regarding the kinds of background roles they want? Yes. They always requested to have kissing couples. We would have to find the kissing couples. That was always a request for our ADs and from the Duffers. Just in case they wanted to make it geeky and fun like that at the mall. It was more about ages and shoppers, or we had people that were dedicated to stores in the mall. Those people were employees, and they had to have special looks, and we wanted them to work more days than maybe some of the mall guests. Sometimes they worked a couple of days in a row and other times they would work here and there. Do you have any favorite scenes or extras you’ve cast for the show? The Jazzercise scene. Some people will come out for more specific castings than would come out for an everyday type of casting call. We got some really awesome women from Buckhead to come out; that was so not the typical extra type. They got in their Jazzercise outfits and had a blast. That was so fun. I loved that scene so much. Why do you cast real people, like marching band musicians and such, to play specific roles?

Authenticity. You have things that are very intricate and important that you want to seem 100 percent real. Just like any surgical show that's on TV, they’ll try to have the best surgical advisor training with the staff. So, authenticity is extremely important for these types of scenes. For shooting, they want it to run smoother. They don't want it to seem jolted and unrehearsed like no one has ever seen a gurney or a hose. They have the movement, the ability to do exactly what the director is needing of that person. So, if we're needing a marching band, we want people to know how to play the drum, know how to play the trumpet, know how to play all these different instruments. Maybe it's not their music that we're going to hear, but we want it to look like it's their music. Just like any time you do a music video: the artist wants to look like they're singing. Authenticity is very important. What are some others you cast for Stranger Things? (SPOILER ALERT) We've booked real military. So many paratroopers for that whole scene in the end. Local people from all the different basecamps here. We hired real police and real lifeguards. In addition to background players you also provide background cars. Can you talk about the challenge of “casting” cars for the show? Yes. Cars are extremely challenging, and in the beginning, it was almost next to impossible. I started cold calling all the

different people on the Facebook car clubs and looked at the different car shows going on. Then after introductions, I found people, more people, and it grew and grew. We now have about 250 classic vehicles in my database, and I'm known in the extras casting world as having the best classic car collection out of all the other extras casting companies. But it's been extremely challenging because they can't be rigged up. They need to be in classic condition. The paint needs to be a classic color, probably a color that existed in that model of vehicle. The cars can't look rusted out, can't have rims that are not original, can't have tinted glass. There are so many prerequisites. We had scenes for cars in front of Starcourt Mall with 220 to 240 cars. Are your background players repeat hires from previous seasons? Yes. I’m very loyal to the people who have been with us from the beginning since they were the ones who were first to let their hair grow or cut their hair off. I've been devoted to them, and they've continued throughout the years to constantly maintain those looks or grow out their facial hair, so we can make a mustache on them. It’s hilarious because people are so on point about the requirements and dedicated that they'll turn down other jobs because they’d have to cut their hair. They’re saving their love for Stranger Things, and I am so grateful because without that dedicated participation from our background performers, we couldn't do this.

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COVER STORY

COSTUME DESIGNER

AMY PARRIS LIKE, TOTALLY GNARLY COSTUMES

A

my Parris joined the crew as costume designer for Stranger Things on season 3. Prior to Parris landing the show, she worked on the costume departments of such fantastical movies such as Her, A Wrinkle in Time and another Netflix series, Insatiable.

OZ: How did you get your start into costume design and how did you get the opportunity to work on Stranger Things? AP: Costume design is always what I wanted to do. I started out helping friends with music videos and independent movies. I got into the union and started assisting. I worked my way up fairly quickly, nose to the grindstone, working all the time and saying, “yes” to every job. I found myself with an agent. My agent reached out and said, “You know, there's a show in Atlanta... .” I was doing a show for Netflix right before Stranger Things called Insatiable, and I moved to Atlanta for that. While I was working there, and we were near finishing up, my agent called and was wondering if I'd be interested in sticking around in Atlanta and working season 3 of Stranger Things. Instantly I said I would, absolutely. The timing worked out. I interviewed with the Duffer brothers and producers Shawn Levy and Iain Paterson. I brought some of my boards to the Duffers in Los Angeles. We had a great conversation, and I was lucky enough to be hired.

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"I felt tremendous pressure going into it. I was like, 'Oh God, what's the next iconic ‘pink dress’ going to be?'” - Amy Parris

What was it like joining a show that had already become so iconic for its costumes? I felt tremendous pressure going into it. I was like, “Oh God, what's the next iconic ‘pink dress’ going to be?” But many people tell me the next iconic costume is Hopper’s date night shirt, which I don't disagree with. It's quite a print. It’s a great vintage fabric that we've made into a costume that David Harbour wears for nearly all of the season, and he looks great in it. I did not approach the costumes thinking everything would be made into a doll or everything would be sold at Target. Someone just sent me a picture of the Scoops Ahoy uniforms being sold at Hot Topic and another picture of people wearing the uniform at Comic Con! I did not expect that to happen. I'm pleased that people like it, and it’s really cool. But it was certainly daunting, and I sort of had to shut that off once we got into it because if I would had sat there and thought about who's going to recreate this, I don't think I would have gotten any work done. Once I dove in, I just focused on the show and hoped that people would like it. I’m very pleased that people seem to enjoy it and want to emulate the costumes. Season 3 brings 1980s flashy costumes and fashion-forward styles. Can you talk about that change? When the Duffers hired me, they knew

they would be doing the summer of ’85. So, we knew we were going lighter. They wanted the show to feel different and brighter. I amped up the color in the way that you do when you are wearing your clothes for the summer. Back then, people had the kind of rules of no white before Labor Day, so in season 3 actors are wearing a lot of lighter colors, and the silhouettes are different. There's this new mall where they're able to buy fashion clothing that's of the time. For some outfits, we toned down the color. Often we will tech a piece of clothing for camera so it’s not too bright and shocking. But with many of these costumes because its summer and its sort of like an overall seemingly happier vibe for the season, (though we see the characters go through some pretty dark stuff) having this fun new shiny mall is reflected in their clothing being readily available. We knew going into it that we were going to shift it. I was wary of shifting it too much because season 1 and 2 look so similar; the costume design is a beautiful color scheme way of autumn, dark, dusty and rusty. We were edging away from the late ‘70s moving into the mid ‘80s. It's not yet acid-wash. It's not yet highlighter neon. We didn't want to go too far. That doesn't really happen until 1987, the big shoulder pads and stuff. It's a fun time for fashion. It was a delicate balance. What did your research entail?


After I signed on, I did some research at home. I grabbed old Seventeen magazines from a bookstore called Movie House Book World in Burbank. They’re unfortunately closed, but in the back, they had hundreds of catalogs. I was able to get everything they had from ’84 and ’85. With the internet now, obviously it’s an incredible reference and people love to post pictures, so it's digging through websites and finding hashtags for 1984 and 1985 and finding family photos. I like to do a mix of real and pop culture stuff. There's no resource that's off limits for us. We searched libraries, magazines, real books and movies. For the Eleven look, they're now going to the mall, they’re going to get the stuff that's in the magazines because that's what they're seeing. That’s their “Instagram.” The influence is also from family photos, pictures of people on vacation, the real photos of everyone else in Hawkins because, they're still a small town, and often in the ‘80s, small towns were behind in fashion. We didn't have Instagram and Facebook to update what everyone's wearing at all times. How much time do you get to design all the costumes? Time-wise, the scripts can come pretty quickly. Luckily, I started with the first four scripts. I knew the Duffers really wanted to focus on the Steve and Robin costume and Dustin’s Camp Know Where costume. I focused on knowing that they were specific about those. The mall happened pretty fast, having to outfit 40 employees at a mall for 40 vendors. As we got the store names and the types of stores and the food court vendors, we could construct uniforms around what we got from the art department and as storefront colors were released. We definitely worked with other departments as we got scripts and then incorporated our research to kind of finesse the outfits.

all the time in the world and had all the money you’d get authentic clothes made in the ‘80s, and you would have real fabrics from the ‘80s but obviously the ideal is to use the real thing as to replicating it. For Eleven’s new costumes in particular, how do you design them to stand out but not become too obnoxious? I would examine the design and sort of pull back. You can get really tacky. The fashion of the ‘80s was to emphasize excess with accessories, a lot of big necklaces and earrings and lace and, you know, crazy layers of ruffles. Maybe it's one less accessory or one less big necklace or one less crazy pattern. But with Eleven, she could wear it so nicely, and it was something so different for her. It’s a style that we haven't really seen on the show, and it's her figuring out who she is. So, it was kind of nice to let her be the one to gravitate towards these bolder patterns and prints. We leaned into that with Eleven, with Millie. It was like, what would this girl who's been sheltered put on? What is she going to go for? She's been wearing clothes that boys give her. She’s been wearing hand-me-downs. Now she's got this chance to wear these bright colors, and I think it really worked well to put those crazy patterns on Eleven. For the Hopper shirt, it literally starts out as a gag. Then there’s the Scoops Ahoy uniform, which can never become cool, right? How did you find something that could do that but then become cool? We can thank David Harbour for that because there's only so much you can do with fabric. You've got this great print and

you make it into a great shirt and at first, we paired it with the blazer, and he wears Top-Siders with the jeans and no socks because he’s going on a date and wants to look cool. But later, when he puts it back on, it’s really Hopper wearing it. He's put on his work boots that he can run around in, and he sort of rolled the sleeves up, and I just think the way David Harbour wears it; you can't help but find him sexy in it. It then becomes something the actor does, in a good way. It’s out of my hands. The way he plays it so effortlessly cool and tough and Magnum P.I., you can't help but enjoy it. The Duffers wanted Steve to look kind of embarrassing because he's Steve “The Hair” Harrington. The intention was to make it goofy. Steve works at the mall, he is trying to pick up chicks, but then he wears this goofy uniform. They knew they wanted it to be something pretty embarrassing but something you could look at for the entire season. With Robin, we sort of just imagined her as this cool girl who's also unfortunately stuck in the same uniform, and she probably prefers not to wear it, but she had her own accessories to show her personality through it. We used ‘80s pieces and matched the silhouettes, giving pleated front shorts, puff sleeves for Robin. Steve's is based on real sailor uniforms, and then we stylized it with the red handkerchief and the trim. Both costumes have the ice cream patches and the name tags. Did you bring any new ideas to other characters? With the boys, it’s the summer before high school. They're really getting into their own personalities. Lucas is kind of finding that he can amp up in the way of going

Did Hopper think Magnum P.I. was the icon of cool? Yes

What’s the biggest challenge with costuming for a show like this? For me, as a costume designer you want to be able to either find everything that's actually made in the ‘80s or you want to make everything that is truly ‘80s with vintage fabric. We got really lucky with the Hopper shirt and vintage clothes. The biggest challenge I find that its sort of a mix of time and money because if you had

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”I just think the way David Harbour wears it; you can't help but find him sexy in it. It then becomes something the actor does, in a good way.” more towards ‘80s contemporary fashion. Dustin wears a “Weird Al” shirt, so he's getting into pop culture and music. Will is a little bit stuck in what he knows, and he wants to play Dungeons and Dragons, and he doesn't care about girls yet, so he advanced a little bit less. They're growing up through their clothing. That was really nice to design. Where do you get the clothes you don’t create? Are there places in Georgia to find authentic ‘80s outfits? There are a couple costume houses in Atlanta. We rented from Southeast Costume, which has a good selection of ‘80s rentals. We would often go there generally at the start of the season. Nancy’s white, cream and black striped dress, Mike's solid teal Polo tee that he wears in the episode where they're fighting Billy in the sauna, are from there. I've definitely utilized my surroundings and learned the vendors that are in Atlanta. I started to find people that can make patches overnight or can print t-shirts fast. It's really nice to see that Atlanta is speeding up with the processes that Los Angeles is used to, and the vendors are more film friendly. I do feel like I've gotten some footing there and I learned the neighborhoods and I'm taking advantage of the local craftsman that are here for sure. Did background performers provide their own wardrobe, or did you have to costume everyone? If they brought stuff, we were happy to take a look, and often there were some “gold star member” extras. They bring stuff from their grandma’s closet or their mom's closet. They'd have some great true ‘80s fashion that they were so happy to

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wear. But a lot of people remember the ‘80s differently. So, you would have an extra come in with the contemporary stuff that they think is ‘80s but maybe is not quite there. Maybe it's a little too ‘90s. So, we would respectfully say, “Thank you so much, let’s try something from our stock.” As much as we liked them to bring stuff, it wasn't always a hundred percent true period, so we used our own stock. I'd approve the looks of the background players, making sure nobody was in too much of the same color or too much of the same jumpsuits or whatever. We looked at them all as a whole and then approved each person “head to toe ‘80s” because you don't want to risk putting somebody in stretchy contemporary skinny jeans and then that's all you see. There was no room for error. You didn't really want a non-accurate costume to “sneak” by like the Converse sneakers. I would let a few Converse sneakers in here and there. Converse is classic. They were around. Those were pieces that we let people keep. So, you’re very concerned about anachronistic looks? Every person, whether it's background or principals, every piece of clothing is important. I know how hard every other department works and coming into a show that looked as beautiful as it did, I wanted to do nothing but match the level of work that they put into it. For me, that was looking at every piece of clothing, looking at every outfit. I was looking at every Parris creates Jazzercise eye candy aka Mrs. Wheeler (Cara Buono)

detail. It was extremely important, and my crew can attest to it. I have my tailors working day and night on clothing, and we look at every stitch, every seam, and if it didn't feel right or if it was off, we would have to fix it. Is it true, though, that the lifeguard suits weren’t exactly right? When I looked up and researched real lifeguards in the ‘80s, the shorts were so short. They were like booty shorts; so incredibly short. I do wish I would have gone a bit shorter on Billy, looking back. I think we still could have gone maybe an inch shorter because he has great


because they wanted to do right by the costume and recreate it exactly how it's made. It's not an easy pants pattern. It's 19 pieces, which is very ambitious to recreate, so I'm proud of Levi's for making that happen and not cutting corners. They really did recreate it how we made it. We made it true to the ‘80s, and they've made it true to the show. But like the uniforms for Scoops, that is nothing that I saw coming. As a costume designer I am extremely flattered and love that people liked it enough to do it, but you can't anticipate that whatsoever.

Introducing the 2019 icons of Halloween: Robin, Steve "The Hair" Hairrington and Dustin (L-R: Maya Hawke, Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo)

legs, and he's just such a handsome guy. Obviously, that outfit is just a pair of red shorts, there's only so much you can do with it. But even with the other boys, it's hard for them to get used to these shorter shorts, so I didn't want the short length to be distracting. I had crew on set saying, “Are you sure you're putting them in shorts this short?” Yes, this is what they were wearing. Go look at your pictures; go look at your family photos. It's a delicate balance getting that hem length just right. I think plenty of females would have been happy to see it shorter on Billy. The scene is about everybody at the pool, the story and, you know, Hawkins. It’s not about red shorts. So, I took that into consideration thinking I don't want to distract the viewer from what's happening in the frame.

describe a character. Were there any intentions to turn any of the looks into Halloween costumes or clothes that fans could buy in stores? Did I plan for it? No, because then you’d just be spending the whole time thinking about that instead of the job. The focus is on the characters. I did have Levi's come in halfway through with some archived pieces that they gave us, and we got to use that in our stock. They knew we wanted to recreate Eleven’s outfit: the black and yellow shirt, the high-waisted pants with the suspenders and that extra belt. They did ask for photos. They wanted patterns

What are some of your favorite costumes that maybe aren’t being talked about as much? I really enjoyed dressing Nancy and making her this strong powerful woman that's entering the workforce. I think all of her dresses were sweet and appropriate for the time period. I feel like Nancy and Jonathan's style was kind of that edgier, new wave look of the ‘80s. They weren’t really brought up as much because everybody's looking at the colorful jumpers and the Hopper shirts, which we all love, but I also just really appreciated how Natalia [Dyer] and Charlie [Heaton] played those characters. Not that it's been swept under the rug, but I feel like that the two of them, that duo, are so cute, and I feel like they played it so well. I just love how we dressed them.

Sweet, appropriate and regal Nancy Wheeler holding court (L-R: Finn Wolfhard, Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton)

Is there anything you wanted to do but couldn’t make happen or had rejected? So far, no. We were really lucky, and the thing I really like about the Duffer brothers is: when I show them fitting photos, they always ask what the actors think. How do they feel in it? They ask what I think, which is extremely collaborative. I was able to say, “Let's try this.” So, I don't feel like there was anything that I didn't get to do. I like to serve the story, and the words of the Duffer brothers give us a very descriptive idea, and they really lend themselves to

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COVER STORY

DIRECTOR OF

PHOTOGR APHY

TIM IVES CAPTURING A LOW-DEF LOOK IN A HIGH-REZ WORLD

S

ince 2015, Tim Ives has served as director of photography for Stranger Things. Ives received an Emmy nomination for Stranger Things two years in a row, 2017 and 2018, for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series. He also recently shot the acclaimed FX limited series set in the ‘70s, Fosse/Verdon. OZ: What was your initial approach for the 1980s look of Stranger Things? TI: From the get-go, Stranger Things has been a unique project in its visualization, its themes and its throwback to a different era. In this case, for season 1, we did research together, the [Duffer] brothers and me. We looked at a lot of films, and it came down to the work of Steven Spielberg, the films he produced. Ultimately it was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the first season, which I think we've moved away from in this new season. For me as a visual reference for the photography, E.T. was a mantra in the first year. The lighting design from the ‘80s, which we pushed a little more in the direction they were heading back then, just to sort of let everybody know that this is a different time. That was done mostly on interiors, the Byers house and the Wheeler house. 40

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Shot on RED DSMC2 Monstro with Leica Summilux-C lenses, Ives drew inspiration from Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. for the vintage look of season 3

Were you looking to mimic certain visuals from ‘80s movies? I didn't look at it as mimicking anything. It was more of taking an overall vibe from the films that we loved and what inspired Stranger Things. There's nothing, I don't think, that's exactly specific. But sure, there was blue light coming in the windows for night. That was more of a style of the '80s than it is now. There was the use of atmosphere in the '80s to convey either heat or steam. That was a little more popular in the '80s, although it seems to come back a bit more now. Maybe we had some small part in that. But I don't think we ever said we're going to pick a scene and do exactly what they did. We were certainly inspired by others' work in the '80s, but our hope was not to copy that but to take it as more of a love letter to that style of work. How has the look of the show evolved since the beginning? In season 1, we had a mantra in how we film the show, and we had two seasons behind us when we started season 3, so we knew what was working and what could be improved. As far as my department goes and my job goes, there's a style of photography that we're very comfortable with and that we like very much. The

Duffers are very cinematic in the way they want to tell the story and the way they describe what they want. Over the years, the tools they especially love have become things we know to go to right away, whereas with season 1 we thought, well, maybe we don't need that for this, and then we realized that we did. By the time we got to the middle of season 2 and season 3, we knew how to make a show that would please us, and that was born out of research into films that inspired Stranger Things on initial photography, and then we found our style within that. That would include camera movement that really was designed to tell a story and not just to move for the sake of being fantastic. At least from my perspective, I would say that's a big deal. I think the camera in Stranger Things is excellent and very fun, and ultimately, I think that's how the brothers described the series to me in the beginning. It's fun. Even though I was like, “How could it be fun when a woman is losing her son and has to find him? It seems terrible.” But I came to learn that this whole thing is built on fun, and ultimately, I think it is a family show. This season took a turn for Stranger Things as far as where we were in season 1 and where we wound up in season 3.


brothers to do. The audience is happy to have things happen that they couldn't have seen coming, which is hard to do in the show. It was a very exciting season to shoot for those reasons. I think I would be missing something big if I didn't emphasize that wardrobe and production design are key elements to this season feeling different from previous seasons. My wife and I were just talking about light and how light is the same over time but it's what light hits that change the way you look at things. And the production design, the locations, and the wardrobe design were things that were amped up and changed this season, and it was just fun to shed some light on that in a little different way.

I think that the show has a lot more color to it. It's a brighter show. It’s set on a summer vacation. It's time for the kids to let loose, which all kids can relate to. And it was the first opportunity to really bring full-on joy, the joy that we all experienced as kids on our summer vacation, and that's reflected in wardrobe by Amy Parris’s use of color, and that's reflected in Chris Trujillo's Starcourt Mall, and it's reflected in the performances that the kids and the whole cast bring to the show.

How do you keep the show scary when so much is now in daylight? As far as creating a show that's scary where you have many bright daytime scenes, you have numerous contrasts in this season between scarier nighttime stuff and joyful daytime stuff. We still create tension in the daytime, whether you're inside a hospital that has no windows or you're at a house that has rats in the basement. We're still able to create drama there as well. One of the first things you see in Stranger Things that sets the tone for that is the town pool scene, which the Duffers wanted to feel sunny: no clouds in the sky. That was a challenge to get in Atlanta where you sometimes get some thunderstorms in the afternoon.

But I also embraced and was encouraged to embrace the direct sunlight in there for those scenes where Billy is walking to his lifeguard stand and also after he's been subjected to the monster's bite, so to speak. We wanted it to feel superhot, hotter exposed in camera, and no apologies for direct glaring sun because this character has to relate to that in a way that's uncomfortable for him. That's something we hadn't done in the past and maybe wouldn't have embraced in seasons 1 and 2 but we fully embraced this season. How do you get stylish visuals in the mall, which is inherently very well-lit throughout? The mall is going to be the mall. If you want to be truthful to what a mall looks like in the ‘80s, you have to embrace what a mall would look like in the ‘80s, or even now, as far as it is a place you go where the lighting doesn’t change that much. Technically speaking, Starcourt Mall had a huge skylight that we had to diffuse and also knock out for reasons, not just between day and night, but as the sun moved. I didn't want to have hard light coming in there that all of a sudden wouldn't be there for the next scene. We had much work to do covering that up and also revealing it for daylight: floating helium balloon lights in there during the day to amp it up or to even out the lighting. It was more work than you would think in there. But if we had tried to do something more stylized in there as far

ASC, Tim Ives on set in Georgia

Was it exciting for you to go in a new direction with season 3? It was a wonderful opportunity for me because, usually in a series when you have something that works, you don't divert from it. You stay with it, whether that's a good idea or a bad idea. And the way the brothers are looking at this, they're telling a story each season that definitely pays homage to what they've done in the past, but also moves forward. When they came to me and said they wanted this to be a brighter, more colorful season, it was really fun and exciting, and a challenge. Audiences seem to be responding to it as much as they ever have. That's certainly a fun thing that Stranger Things is a little unpredictable. I think for the audience, that's a smart thing for the

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“If a lens is flaring, I look over at the Duffers and ask them, 'Is this too much?' and they'll laugh.”

Lighting the "red" Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff) in a cool blue

as typical beauty lighting, it just wouldn't have worked. For season 3, I think the use of color, using purples for night and blues, looked really great and gave it a sense of style and color that is synonymous with the ‘80s and makes it also a little stylized but believable. In talking about embracing lighting in the mall and what a mall looks like, that's what you have to do with Eleven, because her new friend is taking her out, and she is discovering new things for the first time and having her eyes opened literally to what it's like to be a kid at that time. Maybe the wardrobe is a bit bigger, but it's got to be that way for the cinema style. It was certainly fun to see that. You've talked about the intention to make Stranger Things look like it was made in the '80s. Was there ever talk of using only equipment that was available in the ‘80s? The equipment has changed a bunch since we started season 1, with the advance of LED lighting. The main thing we had to talk about was shooting film versus digital. For practical reasons, we knew we were going to be shooting digital. That was my main challenge, especially in season 1, to shoot on a format that wasn't around back in the '80s. We've all grown accustomed to what digital looks like versus film, so I had to do some testing of cameras and lens packages to find that thing that looked most “filmic” for us. We found it in the RED camera and Leica lenses. We tested a bunch of different packages together, and the brothers were

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heavily involved in that as well. We were all of the same opinions as far as whether the edges of something looked too sharp, which meant, you know, too digital. So, we went digital and then, of course, there's the lighting. No matter what tools we have available to us in the present, those tools should be able to accomplish that, and they do. Lighting tools, whether you're using fluorescent tubes for a soft light or a window light versus what you may have used in the past … because I'm at an age where I remember what was and what inspired myself in the '80s to become a cinematographer and certainly knew all the films we reference quite well … I didn't want to do anything that would stick out in a way that felt like we weren't being really true to the '80s. It was an amazing opportunity for me to capture something like that. Ultimately, as the seasons went on, we did start using technology in a way that benefited the show and maybe moved away from the technology of the '80s. We use Technocrane work on the show to move the camera, and that's something that hadn't been invented back then. Certainly, they used cranes in the '80s, but they were time-consuming to build and to move around. Now we have technology that allows us to get to the shot faster. The show has grown in those ways, and the Duffers absolutely love working with that Technocrane in there. They're fantastic with it. It's a great tool to help get us all what we want to get out of the shot. If you want to have lens flare,

which helps give it that look of '80s movies like E.T., can the cameras pick that up or does it have to be added in later? That was a big deal for us. We found lenses that would pick up flares in a way that we wanted. We're always ones for that. If a lens is flaring, I look over at the Duffers and ask them, "Is this too much?" and they'll laugh. I'm lighting in a way to accent the flare all the time on Stranger Things, and very rarely do we find a flare that we don't like. We embrace that as well. That brings a sense of magic to the show and makes you remember that you're watching cinema well, not really; its television, but we're paying homage to cinema. But there are many effects you can add later in post production. Do you lean on that or try to get as much done in camera as possible? Well, there's a realistic thing when monsters start getting involved. But whatever we could get in camera was important for us to get in camera. It will always look more believable. All those films back in the '80s did as much as they could in camera with special effects on the day helping you out, whether it's Indiana Jones or E.T. So, if we can do it in camera we take it as far as we possibly can, and then we lean on VFX: Paul Graff is our VFX supervisor and his work has become more intensive as the seasons go on. But we always start from a place where: what can we do to get this in camera first? At least we did in the first two seasons. Now we have a few more things going on that are beyond the scope of everything being in camera. I think the latter episodes especially have heavy VFX in season 3. Besides the monster effects, though, do you lean on any cinematographic or coloring effects in post? That's all in camera. The colors and the


The low sparks of high def camera making stunning cinematography (Cary Elwes)

weren't necessarily known for cinemastyle but truly wound up having a style of their own that we referenced quite a lot in the show this season. Those are the ones for me. The brothers had a few other ones leaning more towards horror that I haven't maybe seen as much to be honest with you. I'm pretty much a chicken when it comes to watching horror movies. Some of their references are a bit too much for me to watch. I literally have to watch those movies at noon with all the lights on and the windows open. When Hopper and Joyce first discover the underground Russian lab, that was a very James Cameron-inspired situation right there, for me anyway. Our use of red there was something the Duffers and I discussed in great detail.

A nice quiet family dinner with Billy, captured by Ives

lighting, that's all in camera. It's basically there. I look at my stills from the whole season, all three seasons, and they don't differ very far from what we wound up with. We're picking colors on the set that make sense for each season. Season 3 clearly had more color in it, so we researched and picked up on those colors. Plenty of Miami Vice colors and the colors that are synonymous with the '80s. From a lighting standpoint, of course, I had to change direction with it for season 3. Anytime you see a colored light in there, it's the color we had on set. What movies did you reference visually for season 3? The whole opening is a nod to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Our main reference

[for a sunset shot on the highest hill of Hawkins] was Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana and the guys are digging on top of the grounds trying to find the key to where the Ark is. There's that beautiful sunset shot Spielberg did then that we really loved. As much as we could with the location, we unquestionably waited to get that shot as long as we could. We were stuck on a hillside that had no electricity, so we couldn't wait for the sun to near the horizon that low, but it was low enough to make it look great. It's a shot we were excited to get. I looked at The Terminator and Terminator 2. James Cameron's work came into play for the dramatic stuff and how to create tension in daytime situations. Also, there are the John Hughes films, which

Is there anywhere you're hoping to go stylistically in season 4? That would be me jumping ahead of it. The brothers will write something, and we'll all be inspired by it. I wouldn't presuppose or even predict any sort of style we're going to do for upcoming seasons until the words have been written. That's fundamentally the inspiration for all of us to bring our best to it. It'll be fascinating to see what they come up with next. I would imagine that it will, again, surprise the viewers.

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COVER STORY

PRODUC TION DESIGN ER

CH R IS T RUJ I LL O BRINGING THE DUFFER BROTHERS VISION TO FRUITION

C

hris Trujillo came into production design through a fine art and independent film background. He has been part of the Stranger Things team from the start, and fittingly, he received his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Production Design for his work on the very first episode of the first season in 2017.

OZ: How does one become a production designer on a show like Stranger Things? CT: I came in through the fine arts route, which I don't know is an especially common way to get into it. I went to the University of Florida focusing on printmaking and drawing, had a small DIY art gallery in Gainesville, and moved to New York intending to work more in the fine arts. But I always had a real love for film, having been a bit of a film buff and after making a short art film in college. I kind of had a background from my childhood in carpentry and had a real leaning toward design, interior design particularly. I realized pretty quickly that the art world is relatively inaccessible to somebody who's not bred into it or doesn't have some kind of independent wealth. I had some friends working in film; I went ahead and did a few jobs as a PA for 44

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

The Duffer Brothers in your atypical 7-Eleven

the art department on some music videos. I immediately realized that working on a set was the place where my talents and interests intersected. From there, I made a very conscious decision to try and establish myself in the business. I just started doing everything I could get my hands on in terms of independents, commercials, music videos, and small movies. I worked my way up learning the art department ropes by wearing all the hats on smaller projects over the course of about a decade, honing in on production design as my goal. It was just a matter of taking every opportunity, no matter how small, and making the most of it. Then, a series of fortunate events led me to Stranger Things. A few projects before that qualified me for Stranger Things and then the opportunity happened. It’s just been a decade and a half of a lot of hard work and hustling and learning. That's how I came to it. Art school gave me the vocabulary, and I had a preexisting experience with carpentry that kind of came together. Was Georgia always planned as a stand-in for Indiana? There was a time in the early preproduction process before season 1 when we were still trying to determine [the setting]. It was originally conceived as a more coastal American town, in the vein of Amity Island in Jaws. That was the initial intention, but as we scouted a

number of different cities and areas of the country, we started to feel maybe Georgia was going to be the most advantageous place for us to try to make it happen. At that point, it occurred to all of us that maybe the best way to approach it was as Anywhere USA, Middle America, and thus make it more accessible, more approachable, to a broader cross-section of Americans. Georgia was selected for Stranger Things because there is such a wide cross-section of the quintessential suburban America around the greater Atlanta area. In a way, Georgia/Atlanta partly steered us to the vision that we ended up with. Did you research specific towns in Indiana? We weren't super specific to any particular Indiana town, but we definitely did research as far as what Indiana suburbs looked like. We did countless period research for that, and that's why we crossreferenced with what was available in Georgia, and that's kind of what made us confident that we could sell the area outside of Atlanta as Indiana. It felt like the right kind of place to have this idea of ubiquitous American suburban life. What were your challenges with getting the time period captured accurately?


“We scouted a number of different cities and areas of the country, we started to feel maybe Georgia was going to be the most advantageous place for us to try to make it happen.” Every single decision we have to make is in some way affected by the period, so it's probably on a larger scale when you get into these downtown spaces or you get into full neighborhoods where you're seeing blocks and blocks, or we see a larger scale of the world of Hawkins. You really have to be very deliberate in choosing places that are already as close to the period as possible. Numerous times that involves refinishing exteriors, recreating huge signage, completely replacing, obviously, all the vehicles and anything that's distinctly anachronistic for the mid ‘80s. It's particularly challenging in big exterior pieces: picking houses that are simultaneously very indicative and evocative of the era but also aren't distracting or too old. There's a very fine line that we try to walk in not just choosing the super obvious “this is from the ‘70s” or “this is from 1985,” but also kind of making sure that it's appropriate to the characters as well. There are several choices to take into consideration for final approval. Just given the layout of the mall, it would have been incredibly prohibitive to do on a sound stage. The mall is one enormous element in a season of enormous set pieces. To be honest, my feeling is whenever possible, working with a real practical location gives you an essence you can't always duplicate on stage. It’s inherent in something that was actually built in the era, and particularly given the mall's epic scale, we wanted that. The only way to get that realized was to use something real, just to start with the physical architecture of the actual space. How do you deal with stores like Sam Goody and other copyrighted things that maybe no longer exist?

Startcourt has nothing on this little monster, Erica Sinclair

We have really great clearance folks that we work with through Netflix, and then our art department staff is amazing at tracking down the people who can give us those clearances. In some cases, it's really a fun, investigative process. We want this random store that hasn't existed in 20 years, and it requires tracking them down and figuring out legal sign off on using their logo. It's definitely challenging. It can be a total headache, but it's really more of a logistical pain in the ass than creatively difficult. That's the nice thing about a show like Stranger Things: we have so much support legally and resources where we're able to invest some manpower and time into getting exactly that specific thing, whether it's Spencer's or Orange Julius. In some cases, it's really tricky and becomes this process of who represents this long-defunct brand name. For the most part, another nice thing about Stranger Things is that it has so much love for it that most people want to play ball with us if we can get a hold of them. People tend to be pretty amenable to being part of Stranger Things. How much of it is product placement? It's funny because I think there are many cynical people, and rightly so given the way entertainment works and branded cross-marketing is in a lot of media, but the thing with the Duffer brothers is the cart has driven the horse as far as all that branding stuff is concerned. They probably have some fond funny memory of being kids and drinking New Coke. It's just products the brothers find funny or appropriate to tell the true story

of America in the mid ‘80s. That's always what motivates these playful product integration things. The show, luckily for all of us, has become such a phenomenon that all these brands are really happy to let us play with their old logos and use their old branding. Many times, you'll work on a show that maybe had some questionable content or is making a statement about a brand that is negative in some way, and you wind up with a lot of pushbacks and not able to use a product or logo, or you end up having to use it in this very limited, legally restricted capacity. But, because of all the admiration Stranger Things has and the fact that the Duffers generally and genuinely are earnest and just want to get the period correct, we’re able to use them with little fight. Maybe a wallpaper here and there. A color we choose deliberately as a wink to a set that we really like from one of the movies that we take inspiration from. But generally speaking, tonally we're really deliberate in trying to reference things, but we never try to replicate anything that's come before. Are there any pop culture references you’ve personally put in the show or wanted to? There's nothing super specific that I'm dying to get in. I like to lean into whatever the script is. The story and the characters come first. I have no agenda going in. I try to make anything we integrate into the set design first and foremost have some bearing on the characters and who they are. Once we know who the characters are, then we have our fun: the set decorator and me. We consider, “What September / October 2019

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would be in Suzy's room?” And we get to have our Muppet Movie poster that maybe we wouldn't include if we didn't have that character's room to put it in. We don't really premeditate that. For me, I really like wherever I can squeeze in some less obvious or counter cultural or “cultish” references. Like in Murray's house in season 2, I was able to incorporate my interests with a MC5 poster, R. Crumb artwork and protest posters. Wherever I can get my own kicks, I do because it's amusing to balance some of the more mainstream pop culture references with a substance that maybe is more obscure to the general modern viewing public. Occasionally, [the Easter eggs] are personal. I get to have something that's a little multi-layered. In the display case of the cookie store that they're hiding in at the end of season 3, one of the cakes is an Oscar the Grouch cake, and it says, “Happy first birthday, Oscar.” Simultaneously, I love Sesame Street, and I have a son who turned one during the making of season 3 named Oscar. We get to have amusement and get our own little Easter eggs in there. Has there been any request from the Duffers where you just couldn’t achieve their vision? It's a testament to how supportive Netflix has been and how much they believe in the Duffer brothers and in our art department that we've seldom had to give a hard “no.” We have to figure out workarounds where a sequence might be too outlandish, or they might want something to be slightly more epic than we can accommodate, but generally

“I worked my way up learning the art department ropes by wearing all the hats on smaller projects over the course of about a decade and honing in on production design being my goal.” speaking, we've been able to go for it in practically all instances and deliver almost exactly what they put on the page in nearly every situation. They have grand ideas, great immense ideas, but they're also very reasonable. We obviously discuss ideas ahead of time, and maybe we can figure out a way we can get what everybody wants without having to spend another million dollars. There is a compromise that's inherent in the creative process, but there's never been something the Duffer brothers fundamentally wanted that we couldn't give them in some form or version. What about anything you thought you nailed that wound up being rejected? My team has been with the Duffers since season 1, so we started all working together on a scale that was very manageable. We were on the same page as far as what our vision was for the show. We started in a very unified aesthetic. As the script has grown and the world of Capturing the "upside down"

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Hawkins has grown, we've always kind of stayed on that page. We've never really put a bunch of effort into something that had to be completely scrapped and rethought. Now and then, the dimensions of a room don't work, and we will have to reconfigure something to accommodate the camera. But there's never been anything that's fundamental to the vision that we go back and redo because it didn't work the first time. We have some time to work through things and conceptualize. We usually take the time that we need on paper to figure out what we're doing and what we're building before we actually physically start on anything. What has it been like seeing some of your sets become so iconic that they’re merchandise and now in museum exhibits? I’ve made a considerable amount of movies and worked with fantastic people, but I don't know that I've ever been quite so proud of something that I worked on going into season 1. I don't think any of us knew how much this vision we had created would resonate with people and how it broadly would be embraced and become a cultural phenomenon. It was super thrilling. We thought we were making some exciting worlds and doing some creative visual ideas, but I don't think anyone could have expected what the response has been. Honestly, for me, it's what you hope for, but you never let yourself go down that rabbit hole [thinking] that it will actually land the way that this show has landed. It's been incredibly gratifying for all of us as far as feeling, wow, people are really jiving with this and it’s really


weird cultural phenomena. We're partly guided by what the season is going to be. But I give the Duffers more credit than that. Generally speaking, the story comes first. Certainly, they're trying to figure out ways to realize the story through interesting visual ideas, but ultimately the story comes first, and we do our best to make it really attention grabbing.

The Joyce Byers Ouija Wall is currently on display at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum in Atlanta

kind of influenced the zeitgeist in some way. How did the Joyce Byers Ouija Wall come about? It's similar alchemy to how it all happens. We get a script. The Duffers have conceived it as far as writing it on paper and obviously have a vision in their minds. Then they're creatively generous and collaborative with us. We sit down and figure out what that's going to look like in the context of the Byers house. We take the abstract words on paper and first figure out: who are the Byers? What does the house look like? What do the rooms look like and what about the wallpaper? What material would Joyce have to write the alphabet, and what kind of Christmas lights would she have? There are dozens and dozens of decisions that are made to achieve the relatively abstract sentence on paper, which is: “Joyce paints the Ouija wall in her living room.” What's incredible about working with the Duffers is they come up with these astonishing bizarre ideas, and they know they're going to work, and then they give us the freedom to really find out what that's going to physically look like. It's a process. We do everything from discussing the specific dimension of the letters she's writing to what's the wallpaper on the wall. It’s totally collaborative, but obviously, all credit I would want to give is to them and their vision.

What are your favorite sets you’ve designed for the show? Know what's funny? I love the big set pieces, the big sort of trophy pieces, like the mall, the Russian lab, the county fair and all those things that are so enormous, splashy and fun. But, the things that satisfy me the most are things that probably, to a large extent, go unnoticed. They're so subtly executed that they just are the world of Stranger Things, the world of Hawkins. For season 3, a few of my favorites that stick out are the newspaper office, I was partial to Heather's house, the Driscoll basement and the space where Billy brings the victims to the new monster. For me, those were so exceptional. My team is extremely talented and involved. They create sets that are not distractingly real, more subtle. What I really love are the sets where people watching the show don't even realize they were labored over and, in many cases, built from scratch. (SPOILER ALERT!!) What was it like seeing the Byers move out of their house at the end of season 3 and saying goodbye to that set? The Byers house, more than any other set I've ever done, has had its day. It’s a

character that has had its story told. In my mind, one of the most beautiful sequences in the whole show thus far was in those final moments of their departure, and almost all of that takes place in the Byers house. I couldn't be more satisfied with the trajectory of the Byers house. It's a little bittersweet, but I feel like it got its due, and I'm happy to retire it and see what's next for them. The Byers house was one of our first babies as an art department. It was a very significant set to us. The house was sort of the beginning for us. I'm really glad that audiences have identified with it, and that it has had as much screen time as it's had. As a production designer, what is your personal objective? For me as a production designer, the most satisfying thing is when a set takes a life of its own and becomes a character in its own right. With Stranger Things, I feel lucky in that there's room for it in the story. The sets really are integral to the mood and the story beats. We've built more this past season than we did any previous season. The percentage of sound stage shooting is up. Obviously, the mall is such a gray area where we did such an extensive rebuild and remodel in an interior that it almost felt like a build. The Duffers really do value the spaces that the characters occupy. We do everything we can to tell the characters' stories through those sets. The Byers house is an extreme example of being central to the story’s trajectory through the first and second seasons. As production designers, we could never ask for more in terms of getting so much mileage and meaning out of sets we create.

One of Truillo's trophy pieces: Hawkins Fun Fair in Fairburn, Georgia

Did the response to the first season cause a desire for more iconic sets for season 2 and 3? After season 1, we got a sense of how these things go viral and become these

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IF FILM

PERMITS

Road Closure with Cardellia Hunter BY: FRANK REDDY

I

n the more than 30 movie posters that line the walls inside the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, Cardellia Hunter, director, operations and productions, who has worked at the office since 2013 sees beyond the slick photography and big-name actors. The glossy, framed prints mean so much more. Each has its own story. Hanging in the conference room, adorning the hallways, these are veritable trophies that highlight not only the success of the film office but the continued rise of Atlanta and Georgia as a southeastern U.S. film, television and commercial mecca. “It has been mind-blowing,” says Hunter, “What’s very exciting for us is the fact that despite all the new studios and buildings that have been created over the past few years Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Atlanta Metro, Blackhall, Eagle Rock and more these productions still find a way to film in the city itself.” She says on any given day there are 14-20 production crews working in Atlanta on the streets, in communities, inside

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city buildings and before the film office came to be, the permitting process to get productions up and running could be a bit overwhelming. Prior to the office of film and entertainment’s creation in 2013, permitting involved a 28-page document for production teams to complete as well as an often-lengthy period of back and forth visits to multiple city departments overseeing various aspects of the process. Nowadays, production crews can secure permits via an online, cloud-based film app that Hunter says, “has been amazing… for productions, for the office and for stakeholders.” James Lin, a location manager for films like Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Captain America: Civil War, says the city of Atlanta has had “a willingness to learn and improve in their permitting process…if you want to solicit larger film productions, you have to be willing to do what other successful, big cities are doing and often that willingness involves sitting with production companies to understand their needs.”

THE GIVE AND TAKE -----------------------------

There can be a great deal of give and take when it comes to those needs, Hunter says. “I work with so many different people at a time so many different personalities with different characteristics. So, for us, we try to make sure that every production gets equal treatment,” Hunter says. “It can get a little taxing because productions push to the end. They have their budgets, and they want what they want.” Location Manager Kyle Hinshaw, who has worked with the office of film and entertainment extensively on a wide range of productions, including Baby Driver, Bad Boys for Life, and First Man, says “there’s always give and take.” While working with the city to secure locations for a helicopter scene in Atlantic Station for Bad Boys for Life, Hinshaw says there were ongoing construction projects in the community that wouldn’t allow them to film the scene for as many nights as they needed. “Cardellia got on the phone with someone and helped get us to the table so we could sit in a room and


discuss (with Atlantic Station community members) what we needed. We wanted four nights using the helicopter, but what we got was three half-nights instead.” Adds Hinshaw: “I was worried we wouldn’t even get that far, so that was a success.” Hunter and the office of film and entertainment often play this role of liaison and advocate when location managers have a need. “They’ve proven to be good partners when it comes to facilitating more complicated requests – cutting down the approval process time and then helping us work through problems as they arise,” Hinshaw says. While the primary role of the office is permitting, the office’s role as liaison between different agencies continues to be a major function. Hunter too referenced Bad Boys for Life and Baby Driver as prime examples of when a large production can involve multiple governmental agencies or community groups to clear all the necessary hurdles. “Permitting is first and foremost, but when productions come here, we do the production meetings with them. We go on scouts with them to see what it is they’d like to do in terms of closing down the rights of way,” Hunter says. “These meetings can be huge, with Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire (Rescue Department)…and GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation).”

says. “Once they submit their application, we do an overall notifying of the community.” Full street closures, she says, require at least five full business days to execute. Agencies like APD, Atlanta Fire and all involved stakeholders need plenty of notice before the production moves forward. In addition, the office of film and entertainment usually seeks “a blessing” from the city council. “There’s a lot of layers,” Hunter says. “A lot of people just see the finished product on TV or at the movies and don’t realize everything that happened to get the locations secured and get the film made.”

WATCHING THE INDUSTRY GROW -----------------------------

If anybody should know, it’s Hunter. She was hired in 2013, when then-Mayor Kasim Reed opened the office primarily and initially to oversee the permitting process, but also marketing of the office, assisting with economic development and “courting production houses to come set up shop here.” The staff has since grown from four to seven employees, and the number of major studios in and around Atlanta has risen from just a couple to seven as

well, by Hunter’s count. Much of that growth, of course, is attributable to the film, television and digital entertainment tax credits available to filmmakers and studios, which creates significant cost savings for companies who film in Georgia. “Since the tax incentive came in, the scale of productions has taken off, and even during the short time of when the office first opened up to right now, it’s unbelievable the number of productions that we see here or the phone calls we get with people wanting to come here,” Hunter says. She adds that having the world’s busiest airport and “for the most part, great weather” also have played roles in the explosion of the local industry. She also says that, in addition, since the tax incentive began, many location managers have moved from Los Angeles or New York to live here. Hunter herself is from Los Angeles and “was born and raised around movies and on watching movies being shot nearby.”

PAY ATTENTION, HOLLYWOOD -----------------------------

Much of the challenge of having a relatively recently-booming industry in the Atlanta area is getting filmmakers

Cardellia Hunter, director, operations and productions since 2013

SHUTTING DOWN THE STREETS -----------------------------

Another role the office plays involves minimizing potential inconveniences to residents and local businesses affected by the many film productions always going on around the city. Just last year, the office of film and entertainment issued 1,080 permits and in 2019 has already surpassed that number–with 1,235 permits issued at around 200-250 locations. That means film crews on several streets, potentially affecting commutes, business hours and neighborhood rules. Before production begins, the office of film and entertainment alerts people, living, working or driving near the affected areas. “We set up film liaisons to help them maneuver within these communities, and we usually have a production (representative) go speak (to the community) before even going forward with the application,” Hunter

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from the Los Angeles or New York areas to acknowledge the talent pool here in Georgia, she says. To address this, the office of film and entertainment has initiatives aimed at boosting the means and skills of local professionals in the industry.

OWING TO THE OFFICE OF FILM AND ENTERTAINMENT -----------------------------

Hinshaw himself a Georgia-grown film industry professional feels the area has really come into its own as a hotspot for making movies since the days of his childhood growing up here. “It seems like you drive through the city, and you see people filming on the streets everywhere,” Hinshaw says. “You see the same thing in New York or L.A. it’s definitely gotten its fair share of business over the past 10 years.” He feels much of the success and efficacy of filming in Atlanta and in Georgia is owed to the various types of architectural styles and topography in Atlanta and in the rest of the state. “You can get different styles of homes in neighborhoods here that you might not be able to get in places where houses are built very similarly,” Hinshaw says. “You can get mountains here, and in middle Georgia, you can get landscapes that can double as the Midwest because it’s flat … and, in the Savannah areas, you can get the coast, and you can rarely get all those kinds of things in just one state.”

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Hinshaw says that when he was scouting locations for First Man, he and the film crew were even able to double an Atlanta area rock quarry as the moon: “With a little creativity, you can double just about anything you need here.” He says much of the ease of scouting and securing locations is owed to the office of film and entertainment. “(The office) has definitely made the job a little easier in terms of actually getting the permits,” he says. “They’ve streamlined and digitized the permit process.” He’s been in the industry long enough to recall a time before the office’s existence when securing permits involved multiple city departments and less efficiency. “With Baby Driver and Bad Boys 3 particularly, I don’t think I could have done it without having an office in place, because there’s just so many people involved and so many different approvals from other entities,” he says. “You need someone on the other side, helping to expedite permission and getting everybody to the table promptly.”

‘THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING’ -----------------------------

Hunter says it’s all in a day’s work. “The best aspect of the job is being proud to say we can maneuver 14-20 productions per day on the city streets without incident being able to interact from beginning to end when it comes to finding locations to film. And, being able to go out on set, watch it happen and then being able to see the finished product at the end. It feels terrific seeing Atlanta streets and locations in the

finished product, and it feels even better when we get that special thanks at the end of the movie.” As she looks back on her six years working in the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, Hunter is “in awe” of how far the city and state have come and the number of productions that continue to show interest. “This is really happening,” she says, smiling. “This caliber of filming is really happening in the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. It’s amazing.” If ever she should doubt, Hunter need only look around her office at the dozens of glossy movie posters of which there are 10 more waiting to be framed representing the many victories for the office and providing further proof of the city and state’s claim as a force to be reckoned with in the movie business.


CTM’s travel specialists provide production crews with the attention required by their complex and demanding schedules. We cater to this fast-paced enviroment and understatnd the expectations of VIP’s and their support staff.

404-751-2933 September / October 2019

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TALENT

Q+A

O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!

HOW DYLAN KUSSMAN

MADE HIS LIFE EXTRAORDINARY

Kussman directing on location in Jerusalem

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D

ylan Kussman played Richard Cameron, the high-flying overachiever in the critically acclaimed movie, Dead Poets Society, which starred Robin Williams, was directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman. The film received a multitude of honors including nominations for four Golden Globes and four Academy Awards in the same categories, Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director and Tom Schulman won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film ranked #52 on American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time. Currently, Kussman is acting in the Southeast and has acted in two of Clint Eastwood’s films shot in Georgia: The Mule and The Ballad of Richard Jewell.

TRADITION OZ: Traditionally, people always want to know how one breaks into the business. Could you briefly share about how you broke into acting? DK: My first appearance on camera was when I was six months old. I crawled around in a diaper in an insurance commercial. My mom is an actor and she drove me around to auditions. She is also a drama teacher, and she included me in the cast of one of her college productions. It wasn't until a couple of years after that, at age 11, that I asked to audition for something of my own volition, and she promptly drove me to the local community theater (the Glendale Centre Theatre), where I auditioned for and got cast in Father Of The Bride. I proceeded to get cast in more shows over the next several years, and when I was 14 a fellow cast member recommended me to a child agent friend of hers, Judy Savage at The Savage Agency. It wasn't long after Judy signed me that I had booked my first television appearances as a legitimate young actor (early credits include appearances on Silver Spoons, Days of Our Lives, and Punky Brewster). I co-starred in

In between takes on Dead Poets Society. Kussman in character with Ethan Hawke who is not (1989. Photo D. Kussman)

a Disney made-for-television movie The B.R.A.T. Patrol (with Sean Astin and Nia Long) when I was 15, but I wasn't to make my break into theatrical features until I was 17.

HONOR

When you read the Dead Poets Society script, what was your initial reaction to the story and to playing Richard Cameron? I wanted the part very badly. Not because I thought it was going to be a great or an important film, none of us knew that, but only because I knew it was a great part. I think I had a sense, even at that age, that the “bad guy/betrayer” had a chance to stand out and stake a claim in the story. I also knew that I couldn't play this as “bad” or “evil”, but rather as a well-rounded, 3-dimensional kid with his own set of dreams and fears. Tom Schulman's story would do the rest of the work for me. And I trusted Peter Weir to tell it. In terms of acting, when in Dead Poets Society did you feel the "chemistry" with your fellow peer actors? When did the "real" connection with you and the poets click? Were you ever worried that you would not feel the connect? As the only “poet” not from the East Coast, it took a while (and the other six actors would agree with this) for my co-stars to warm up to me. I've often wondered if Peter did that intentionally. Regardless, it worked, to a certain extent. I was “the California kid.” That said, once we were all

firmly ensconced in the Radisson Hotel in Wilmington, DE, we became fast friends. The three months of shooting remains indelibly embedded in my memory as one of the richest, most fun periods of time in my entire life. We were making movie magic day and night. We all felt the raw creative energy of life coursing through our veins with Peter Weir as the beating heart and Robin Williams as the exuberant spirit. What was the acting impact on you being directed by Peter Weir? Peter's connection to us as a director was playful and sublime, full of empathy and love. He made us feel free to try and to fail without fear. Through my brief time working with him I think I learned that film acting is far less about performing anything than it is about experiencing something: a relationship, an idea, a moment of understanding. When acting, if you are brave and open enough to do that on camera, you give the director an opportunity to capture something of your humanity, which is your greatest gift as an actor. In Dead Poets Society Robin Williams portrayed John Keating, which is widely recognized as one of the actor’s best roles. What did it mean to you and what did it feel like to act with such an icon? Robin Williams was a kind man, a gentle soul, a generous actor. I am so grateful for my experience working with him and September / October 2019

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wouldn't trade it for the world. It still saddens me that he is no longer with us. He was a clinic for any young actor with his honesty, his emotional truth, his intelligence, and, of course, his sense of humor, which made the whole experience very, very funny.

EXCELLENCE

Historically actors have been an eclectic bunch. Our interests are varied, our skillsets are wide-ranging. We pursue new and different forms of expression and communication out of necessity; that's the business we're in. The extracurricular preferences of this actor just so happen to include playing music, screenwriting, directing and playing sports. Nothing beats breaking through some writer's block with a game of pickup basketball. God knows my guitar has given me unconditional love more times than I care to remember during stretches when I never thought I'd work as an actor again. After Dead Poets Society came out I wanted to go to UC Berkeley and study history. So, I did. In addition to what I learned on set, in real life I had some influential teachers that inspired in me

Kussman starred as Caesar in the Théâtre National de Bretagne's Julius Caesar with Dead Poets alum James Waterston

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(L to R): Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Kussman screen writing on the set of The Mummy (2017) and director Alex Kurtzman

a love of learning. I started performing Shakespeare for the first time. I played Romeo at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Robin Williams and Peter Weir just happened to be meeting that day in San Francisco and read that I was doing some free Shakespeare in the park. They showed up to one of my performances and came to see me backstage during intermission. I'll never forget that day. It let me know that I was doing exactly the right thing with my life. I wrote my first screenplay on a whim during my sophomore year (it was produced four years later). Through Ethan Hawke on Dead Poets, I had met a friend of his he'd grown up with, Christopher McQuarrie. We became fast friends in the early 1990's, and it was during my time in Berkeley that we began coming up with movie ideas. He went on to win an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for The Usual Suspects in 1996, and his career took off. McQuarrie put me in his directorial film debut The Way Of The Gun, but it wasn't until he met Tom Cruise on another film he wrote, Valkyrie, that his career as a filmmaker started to truly blossom. I acted with Mr. Cruise in Jack Reacher, and when Chris was tasked writing and directing the fifth installment of the Mission: Impossible, he turned to me (as an old and trusted friend who he knew could write) to collaborate on some later drafts of the screenplay. Although I wouldn't be credited as a writer on that project, the success we enjoyed got me hired onto to another high profile project, The Mummy reboot starring Tom Cruise. I worked on that film in London and Namibia for the

Art forms that stir in your soul can be steady companions during rough patches of your acting career.

Overall, could you say the real irony of your film breakthrough playing Richard Cameron is that you did not go down the "traditional" road actors travel by? What was your path after filming DPS?

better part of a year and secured my first major motion picture screenplay co-credit right before the film's release: a major watershed moment in my life. Since then I've also worked on Mission Impossible: Fallout. You’re in a band, you teach acting, you're a father, a screenwriter and a working actor. It seems that Dylan Kussman is much like the character John Keating by teaching and inspiring wide-eyed and eager film students. How do you inspire your students? That is a well-observed parallel. My teaching mentor is a wonderful actor and teacher in Los Angeles named Tonyo Melendez. He taught me that the greatest gift a teacher can give to his students is himself. I try, in whatever methodology speaks the clearest, to convey my love for the subject matter, why it stirs me, what attracted me to it, and how I pursued a


Robin Williams giving the poets his thumb of approval (1989. Photo by D. Kussman)

Kussman displaying his "cool confidence" with Eastwood in The Mule

You've acted for Clint Eastwood in two of his films that were shot in Georgia. What experience did you walk away with acting with this icon?

Cast photo for Dead Poets Society

deeper understanding of it. If I do that honestly, I generally have a handful of students in every class who will listen to what I have to say, follow me into the subject matter and, if I'm lucky, show me a bit of themselves and what inspires them. The greatest teaching experiences are the ones where I become a student too. I always tell my acting students: don't let ANY of your interests or skills go, you never know when you might need one. Work your restaurant job and audition all week, paint your oil paintings on the weekends, there's nothing that says you can't. Even if you never need that thing you love doing for a role, do it because it delights you. Art forms that stir your soul can be steady companions during rough patches of your acting career.

Mr. Eastwood has clearly caught the Atlanta bug, as he's shot his last two projects here. It has been one of the great honors of my life to work with Clint Eastwood. In The Mule I got to act against Mr. Eastwood while he was also directing me. More recently, I played a part in his movie about Richard Jewell that he's shooting here. He has a cool confidence that is only borne from 70 years of making movies. He trusts himself, and he trusts you. He did 95% of his directing work when he cast you for the role, and the last 5% he saves to push you over the goal line. When he’s directing he's a got a presence like a granite boulder. There have been many stories and performances that have had an impact that have shaped me who I am as a filmmaker and actor. Mr. Eastwood sitting five feet away, watching me work, directing me drove the soles of my feet into the earth, made me feel alive and so very, very grateful that I didn't quit chasing my acting dream. I felt the same way when I got to act with Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates and Denzel Washington, and getting to perform in a shouting match onscreen with James Caan. These are moments that I get to keep for the rest of my career and the rest of my life. What are your thoughts on Georgia being regarded the new film capital of the world?

I didn't have a master plan for my career when I moved from Hollywood to the Southeast with my wife to be closer to her family. To be honest, I didn't know if I'd have a film acting career anymore at all. I've never been so happy to be dead wrong. The sheer number of auditions I've had since I got here a decade ago are so far above what they were in L.A. as to be laughable, and with the industry developing a greater trust in the talent pool that exists here, the roles I've read for have gotten heftier and more substantive with each passing year. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this creative community, for the representation at J Pervis Talent that has worked so hard on my behalf, and for the attention I've received. I'm very clear with my students that they are currently sitting in one of the world's hotbeds for film and television production in Georgia. Gone are the days where masses of Southeastern college graduates who want to get into the entertainment business have to go to New York or Los Angeles. When I shot my web series here, I remember showing the pilot to my acting agent in L.A. and his eyebrows shot up and he said, "Where'd you shoot THIS?!", like I'd been to some alien planet somewhere. There's tremendous opportunity in Georgia, as the entertainment world shrinks and coalesces around the internet, to shoot stuff that looks and feels different. That's invaluable. And the Georgia actors and technical crew are second to none.

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THE AMBITION OF

GEORGE

PIERRE

Confessions of a Casting Mind By Christine Fitzgerald

THE PRE-READ OZ: How did you get your start in casting? GP: When I was a kid I wanted to be in front of the camera, but I didn’t have a background in acting or theater. I moved from Brooklyn to Atlanta to work for Home Depot. Soon after I had moved down here, I was laid off, so I decided to go back to school. I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta where I studied mass media and film production. A professor told me that Rainforest Films’ Will Packer and Rob Hardy were going to be talking at a Women in Film and Television of Atlanta event. I met a great woman, producer Dianne Ashford. I asked if she was looking for interns and the rest is history from there. 56

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I started off as an extras casting director and I quickly learned that was not what I wanted to do. Being an extras casting director is extremely challenging and difficult. I caught the bug and I wanted to do casting.

THE CALLBACK When you were learning the ropes, what were the takeaways that you've carried on into your success as a casting director? In 2007 I was the casting assistant running the camera for Motives 2. I saw how the audition sessions were being held, noting the questions they would ask of the actors and how the director just kind of switched it up a little bit.

So, I incorporate that now to this day in how I hold sessions. I give the actor the opportunity to showcase what they're capable of doing; sometimes when they walk into the room, they get nervous. Then there are times when they walk into the room and you know they're just not going to be right for the role. Some have it, some don't. What I've learned and held on to is that when an actor walks in, and they start talking and you can tell they're nervous, just let them finish, give them an opportunity and then say, "Let's try it this way. Just relax, don't make it a character. Just deliver the lines." I had to learn through the school of hard knocks. I had to learn on my own and even to this day, as a casting director I'm still learning. You never stop learning. Just when you think you have it all down pat, something else comes up.


The very first time I did a casting job, I burned out quickly. That was the first mistake I made, and I promised I'd never do that again. I worked on a CNN spot and I held sessions from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night. I wanted to prove that I was the right guy for the job because they were kind of on the fence about wanting to hire me. I did three CNN spots, and I was exhausted. I did it for so many hours that week, I kept going and going and after that, I realized that's not the right way to do it. So now when I schedule sessions, I schedule them in short time frames. Actors are repeating the same thing over and over, you want to stay alert and on-point.

I want to be the Southeast's number one casting director. What were the challenges and obstacles that you faced when you started casting on your own? The biggest challenge was getting people to take a chance on me and believing that I could actually find talent. You quickly had to learn that you're only as good as the last project that you've done. I didn't have time to get a swollen head. Even if I did, I wouldn't. I want to be the Southeast's number one casting director.

THE PRODUCERS SESSION How do you obtain a script and projects? It goes back to what I said before, you're only as good as the last project you've done, so word of mouth is a beautiful thing. I work with the same producers a lot, and they, in turn, talk to other producers who bring me on board. They believe that if it ain't broke, they don't try to fix it, so they continue to hire me because they love what I bring. What is your casting process when you get a new project?

Of course, I read the script first. Then I breakdown the script and create sides for auditions. As far as the lead roles go, I think of options and create a visual of those leads for the producers and director. I narrow the actors who auditioned for the role down to the top three or four choices and start checking the actor’s availability. After we get approval from the network or studio on the talent they selected, we make the offers to the agents with a deal memo. How do you decide which talent you want to present when auditioning so many actors per role? Are your choices ever rejected? Sure. It's happened. The producers and directors will want to get a person for a role and [sometimes], in my opinion, the person is not right for the role. You have to have respect that, as we're co-workers, but their opinions trump; it's what they want, not what I want. There are times when they get what they want and later regret that decision, and at least they have the decency to admit it…we're here to guide them. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don't. Here's the crazy thing, we got an email from one of our producers the other day, she said, "George, you are making this difficult for us because all of these options are great." I only send off five options, so you can imagine if we saw 200 people, whether it be self-tape, live or combined, only five people are being selected…those five people have to be the cream of the crop. George Pierre speaking

The selection of talent is a funny thing. There have been times when I had what I thought in my mind were great selections and the producers said they wanted to see more options. I hold more sessions and send them more options and what do they do? They go with the very first options we sent them. You have to balance it out. You have to know how to work with the producers you're working with. I definitely like to think outside of the box. If a breakdown of a role doesn't give a specific gender or race for a character, I like to switch it up a bit. It’s taking into consideration things like “How can I bring the best talent for this role to life? What can I do as a casting director to choose the best actor?” I always leave something in my pocket. I've learned from an awesome casting director in L.A. who said, "Don't tip your hand. Don't show them everything." You have to have some people on reserve. What you present is the strongest talent, but if producers want to see more, it's within their rights. What we're not going to do is keep sending more and more because they can’t make up their minds, I've had that happen. As a casting director, you can't be afraid to voice your opinion.

THE SCREEN TEST When producers want to hire the actor, how do you negotiate the amount to pay the actor? It all goes back to the relationship you have with the agents. If you're a solid individual, they'll trust you. The actors, they just want to work. Usually, the money is a perk; for them it's that credit. It's being on camera. It’s getting that feeling of, "I've got another role under my belt." I'm a fair person and I'll go to the producers and tell them an actor should get more money because this actor’s résumé merits that. Fair is fair. The negotiation process sometimes goes well, sometimes it doesn't. Often times, producers tell me, "We can only offer you scale" and I've had agents say, "Have you seen this actor’s résumé?" My thing is, if you negotiate with me correctly, I'll go back to the producers and say, "Hey, look, September / October 2019

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this is what this actor has done. Can we go above scale?" Nine times out of ten, the producers will say, “okay,” because they realize that there is awesome talent here, and they deserve their just due. They deserve their pay. Where did you learn to negotiate contracts for deal memos? Ha! Every time I had to purchase a car, whether old or new. With all of the auditions you have held is there an actor you've discovered, whom you are most proud of? I've got to say Kendrick Cross. He used to live in Columbia, South Carolina, and he would drive to Atlanta all of the time to audition. He finally made the move to Georgia, but there was something missing. He was asking, "When am I going to get my break? I keep auditioning and auditioning." He was landing roles but was desperate to know when was that big one going to happen. I'm proud to say he is now a series regular on Ambitions. It’s a cool show and he gets to kiss Robin Givens and Essence Atkins. He's a lucky guy.

What is the proudest moment of your casting career? When I joined the Casting Society of America (CSA).

ROLL CREDITS Do you think casting directors receive the credit and recognition that they deserve? I'm still trying to figure that out. It's funny, the actors will come in, and they’ll audition. We do the legwork as the casting department and then when they give their award speeches, they thank their agent, producer, the director, the studio, the writer, and God. They thank everybody else but not the casting director who submitted them for the role and who have the mindset to think, "I know this actor is going to be great for this role."

Have you ever been let go on a project?

When a project is being shot in Georgia, why do you think principal roles are being cast in Los Angeles but not locally in Atlanta?

Yes. I’ve been fired before. I got fired as an extras casting director on Ride Along 2. This was where I learned quickly to stay in one lane; don't try to do too much that you can't handle. I was doing both extras and principal casting and found out quickly that wasn't working for me. But it was a blessing that I got fired as the extras casting director. I will never do that again and haven't done it since.

I believe many subscribe to this myth that L.A. and New York are where the real talent is. I've done casting sessions in L.A. and I've seen audition tapes from New York, and to me, I don't see the difference. Atlanta’s actors are equally as great: talent is talent and location has little to do with it. But I think we're turning the table around because when we shot Ambitions, many guest stars and three of

Are there any heartbreaking moments of your casting career? Absolutely, I have gotten emails where producers tell me they’ve cut a role, so I would have to take the role away from that actor. I hate those emails. That is the worst part of casting. I had to do that to a child actor. I tried everything in my power to convince the producers to keep him and they told me they just didn’t need the role. Then there was Star. We did three seasons. When I found out that there wasn't going to be a season four it was heartbreaking because that was one of my 58

favorite projects to work on. It was hard on me.

Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

I'll go back to the producers and say, 'Hey, look, this is what this actor has done. Can we go above scale?'

the series regulars came straight from Georgia. That's a beautiful thing. Change can happen. You have to want it. You have to have that mindset. Nobody's going to hand it to you. Nobody handed this to me. I had to kick the door down to producers and say, "Hey! Here I am." You're either going to accept me or you're not. And over 70 projects later, thankfully, I’m going strong. What would you like to see in the future for casting directors? Casting will always be needed. I think the casting directors that are here in the Southeast are slowly turning the tables around and showing producers of what we're capable of doing. One day a casting director said to me, "Don't get complacent. Don't feel we only have to be the Southeast casting directors. Don't feel we have to be just the local casting directors, because we're not." Georgia can cast entire TV shows. Georgia can cast a whole movie, just give us that opportunity. We'll show you how we can do it, and it's been done. Georgia has actors that are equally as talented as the actors in L.A. or New York. What keeps you in Atlanta? I love Atlanta. There's no other place like it. Now, will I go to L.A. to cast a show? Of course, I will, it’s work, but I'm not moving to L.A. any time soon. I'm not leaving the Peach State. With all the film and TV projects that shoot here, there’s no need for me to leave Georgia to cast amazing talent.


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GPP Summer Sips Party With the generosity of Areu Bros. Studios’ donation of their back lot, GPP’s 4th Annual Summer Industry Party was the biggest one yet. GPP guests sipped on cool drinks, enjoyed live music, food vendors, and carnival games in a festive street party atmosphere. Funds were raised to support GPP’s lobbying and educational efforts to protect our entertainment tax incentive IMAGES 1. Ozzie Areu (Founder CEO, Areu Bros. Studios), Cachi Gonzalez (Executive Assistant) 2. Patricia Hammett Taylor (GPP Immediate Past President) Kit Vinsick (Director, Producer, On-Camera Talent) 3. Mayor's Office of Entertainment

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4. Jay Phoenix (Gwen Hughes / Retro Kats) Dougherty 5. Susan Moss (GPP Marketing Communications Chair) 6. Lisa Ferrell (GPP Co-President) Brennen Dicker (GPP Government Relations)

7. Set South 8. Shellie Schmals (ATL Jewish Film Fest Program Manager) Karen Ceesay (Actor, Stranger Things), Morgan Lawley (Director) 9. Gabrielle Aguilar (Southern Spoon Craft Services) Patricia Hammett Taylor (GPP Immediate Past President)


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Women’s Comedy Festival The Atlanta Brewing Company hosted the 1st Annual Women's Comedy Film Festival. Melanie Miller from TMZ and other attendees enjoyed a wide variety of hilarious independent comedy films shot by female filmmakers from Georgia and all over the world. IMAGES 1. The entire team from the group Famous for a Day after their win for Best Music Video 2. Caroline King, festival director 3. Karen Deone (Swipe Right) and Jamila Jackson (Squirrel Detective) during the Q&A following the screening block

4. Micaela Dee and Nick Pinelli accepting their award for Best Music Video 5. Actress Jillian Crane (Left) and director, Jodi Burke (Right) from the film Anchor Away with festival director, Caroline King, Center 6. Director Jodi Burke and Jillian Crane

from Anchor Away with their award for Best Web Series Episode 7. Festival director Caroline King with Melanie Miller 8. Edward Nescot and Elizabeth Ness from the film, Coming down to the wire...a wedding mash up September / October 2019

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Screening of Chance Chance is a powerful story told through the eyes of a pitbull puppy taught to fight, harm and hate. Against all odds, he finds a way to stand up for what’s right. This movie is about more than just a dog, but rather protecting one's community, exercising love over hate and finding a way to transform broken mindsets and cycles. IMAGES 1. Chance Production Team: Phil James, Felicia James, Brandon Wynn, Nikki Barjon 2. Dr. James Chapius, Doug Pisik, John Welker and James Weis

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3. Bill Swift, Jerry Thomas and Kevin Thomas 4. Legendary Coach Bo Bell and AAU Basketball Team 5. Guest During Q & A

6. Chance Screening at Westside Cultrual Arts Center 7. Photo of donors 8. Attendees pose with Nikki Barjon


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WIFTA hosts pitch it! Atlanta Women in Film & Television Atlanta hosted Pitch It! Atlanta. The event was a one-day pitch fest created for film and television executives interested in discovering new ideas, unique voices and untold stories from fresh perspectives. IMAGES 1. Darrien Gipson-Dorn, SAG Indie; Karen Johnson, Tammy Garnes, WIFTA Board Member 2. Group shot of attendees involved in Pitch It! Atlanta

3. Raye Dowell, BET Networks, talking to Pitch It! participant 4. Jennifer Long, WIFTA; Makiah Green, MACRO; Matt Moore, Areu Bros, Studios; Frank McCarney, Areu Bros

Studios; Katie Ozog, ID Discovery 5. Group shot of attendees involved in Pitch It! Atlanta

PC&E Rise Against Hunger Event For the 6th year, PC&E employees and industry volunteers collaborated with Rise Against Hunger and served up community service by helping prepare 10,000 meals for the hungry around the world. IMAGES All photos: PC&E staff, family and friends

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