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Georgia Film Festival gives local filmmakers chance to display works of art
Georgia Film Festival
Georgia Film Festival
Georgia Film Festival
When: 3 p.m. Friday, May 18, to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 20
Where: University of North Georgia Gainesville campus, 3820 Mundy Mill Road
How much: $15 to $45

More info: Online

For The Times

Stories of mechanics turned drag-racers and groundbreaking female golfers are headlining the Georgia Film Festival this weekend.

The Georgia Film Festival is coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus. The festival was previously known as the Skyline International Film Festival and now offers local filmmakers a chance to show off their work to the public and the Atlanta film industry.

Organizers with UNG opted for the name change to better represent the state’s growing film industry.

“We wanted something that made it clear to emerging filmmakers in the state that we are a venue to support their work and help grow both the local and regional film industry,” said Jeff Marker, the organizer of the festival and chairman of communication, media and journalism at UNG’s Gainesville campus.

Because of the new focus on Georgia productions and filmmakers, the festival is drawing in a different crowd of people who are interested in seeing the Georgia film industry grow and thrive.

“We decided that there was a niche in Georgia that wasn’t being fulfilled at other festivals,” said Melissa Simpson, the director of programming for the festival, on May 9. “We have an entire block of shorts that have been shot in Georgia, as well as two feature films that have been shot in Georgia.”

The two feature films were directed by UNG professors.

“The Founders” was directed by Carrie Schrader, a limited-term professor of communications media and journalism at the university’s Gainesville campus, and cinematographer Charlene Fisk.

“It’s an inspiring story about a group of underdogs who unknowingly changed the world,” Schrader said.

The documentary, set in the 1940s, tells the story of the first women to play professional golf who would go on to become founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1950.

At first, Schrader didn’t see the appeal of this movie until she actually met and watched the women in their interviews with Fisk.

“Once I saw these women, I thought ‘Wow these are such loveable, incredible characters, which is what I look for in a story,” Schrader said.

The story mirrors struggles even modern women face in their careers.

“It was wonderful to make ‘The Founders’ before the industry really cracked open, with the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matters exploded,” she said. “It really helped me believe that I can do it — I can be a writer and director in the industry — despite the odds.”

“The Founders” will play the first night of the festival at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Shifting Gears” was shot in Georgia and directed by UNG professor Jason Winn, a part-time professor of communication, media and journalism at the Gainesville campus.

The family-oriented film follows the Williamsons, who are hit with two devastating blows to start the film.
Tom Williamson, the head of the household, loses his job at the same time his father dies.

But out of the misery comes hope: The grandfather left the family a service station in his will, which they convert into a mechanic business.

When the new business needs to be saved, they rely on the drag racing talents of the son to win a dirt track racing competition.

The film will be screened at 7 p.m. Saturday, the second day of the festival.

But there are more than movies on display this weekend: Filmmakers will get the chance to hear how it’s done from the experts with a series of panels this weekend.

On Saturday, “Music for the Movies” will explore how music is composed, scored and mixed for movies and television. The panel will consist of people who have worked in the musical department of film television, such as William Lee, Jeremy Gilbertson and Greg Sudmeier. “Stunts and Safety” will be Saturday from 4-5 p.m. and will showcase professional stuntmen performing different fighting stunts and offering advice and tips. “Special Effects, Digital and Practical” will be 4-5 p.m. Sunday and will feature Art David and Daniel Devore, who have worked on the special effects teams of films such as “The Matrix” and a “Men in Black” sequel.

More than 200 people are expected to attend the Georgia Film Festival this year, or about the same as previous turnout. There are fewer submissions this year, about 250, but Marker believes they are better films.

As the state’s film industry has grown into a $9-billion-a-year business, Georgia filmmakers have been able to find steady work in the state — allowing them to pursue their passion and create independent projects.

Georgia Production Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the growth of the state’s film industry, will be sending film professionals to recruit filmmakers and businesses to invest in film and television productions in the state, according to Marker.

At the end of the festival, films will be named Best Georgia Short, Best Student Short and an Audience Award for each collection, or block, of films that are shown.

“Like any other festival, we want to grow, both in attendees and submissions,” Simpson said. “We hope to become a part of the fabric of Georgia as an event to show off the content and the community here.”

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