Union City’s Newest Shining Star
A life in the arts can be very rewarding. Working in the entertainment industry can also be a journey into the unknown, far-flung from a typical “9 to 5” existence. At Atlanta Metro Studios, our teams’ backgrounds range from producers, production designers and transportation coordinators to construction, development and studio executives. Our life in the arts has taken each of us around the world. Now, thanks to the steadfast support of Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly, we each find ourselves with amazing opportunities in Georgia, at the intersection of the arts and large-scale industry.
Our partner, John Rooker, had purchased the shuttered Shannon Mall before we met. The Mall had long been a key part of Union City’s economy, however it was off the tax rolls and its redevelopment topped Mayor Vince Williams’ list of key initiatives. Our goal for the redevelopment was multi-faceted. First, address the deficit of large-scale, purpose-built studios in Georgia’s film infrastructure by building sound stages, production offices and flex space in a campus environment. Second, and possibly the more exciting opportunity, create a film community inside an existing community. In partnership with Union City we plan to spark economic development in South Fulton and focus a spotlight on the purpose-built film corridor that’s emerging on Atlanta’s south side.
The most exciting part of bringing Georgia’s booming film industry (over $6 billion in economic impact in 2015) to Union City is that the productions coming to Atlanta Metro Studios will also become customers of Union City’s hotels, restaurants, gas stations, banks and retail stores, all within walking distance of the studio’s front door. The community will provide support, and the productions will spur growth for local businesses.
We are on the verge of another monumental shift in Georgia’s film economy. Moving forward, when producers think of Georgia it will be for large-scale, blockbuster infrastructure. In fact, Atlanta Metro Studios features the two largest purpose-built sound stages in North America. This infrastructure development is key to welcoming larger productions with longer production schedules and more locally hired jobs.
Our facility is proud to join the long list of amenities that keeps Georgia on the map for producers and content creators the world over. With thousands of locations, small town charm, wildly varied architecture, rivers, farms, the North Georgia mountains, urban backdrops, as well as ocean, coastal lands and the Golden Isles, our state is a terrific fit for film making. Georgia’s Camera Ready program, active in over 160 counties, provides filmmakers with local liaisons ready to lend their support and share local expertise. Union City has a valuable neighbor just 5 minutes down the road, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Productions can count on the consistency and flexibility of the world’s busiest airport while filming at Atlanta Metro Studios.
Creating a film is an intense artistic endeavor. Filmmaking is like project-based manufacturing: a process rooted in organization and the ability to maximize efficiencies. The product rolling off the ‘production line’ is typically a film or a television series. The technicians responsible for a film’s production are artists from a wide range of tradecrafts, coming together to literally bring a script to life. For young Georgians, there is now an opportunity to follow this creative, collaborative path possibly leading to a very rewarding career.
Success in tradecraft comes from learning under a skilled craftsman. Whether your goal is to work as a producer, writer or director; in the Camera department, Sound department, Art department, Hair & Makeup or Wardrobe departments; in post-production, visual effects, sound design or as a music supervisor, there is no degree from any school that will provide you enough knowledge and experience to step right into a leadership role on a major production. Working your way up through a department, being an indispensable member of a creative team and learning as much as you can about how to interact with other departments is the best route to success. There are numerous artists in every department on every production creating something where formerly there was nothing. It’s also pretty great when your mother or friends see your name in the credits!
With the goal of creating opportunities for what will be the next generation of Georgian filmmakers, we have created a film scholarship program in association with Union City Mayor Vince Williams and Fulton County Schools to send Fulton County High School graduates to the two-semester Digital Film Certificate Program at Clayton State University. The certificate program is part of the Georgia Film Academy and was developed to teach film tradecraft and give students an opportunity to learn basic on-set skills, become familiar with production terms and procedures as well as gain hands-on experience working on productions. The combination of class-based teaching and on-set experience gives students a great start toward an entry-level position in production.
We could not be more proud to be a part of the Union City family and are working every day to ensure Atlanta Metro Studios will make a long lasting, positive impact in South Fulton.
Ed Richardson and Brian Livesay are founders and managing partners of Atlanta Metro Studios.