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Fayette County


Georgia Film Academy’s first soundstage opens in Fayetteville

Georgia Film Academy Executive Director Jeff Stepakoff with the big scissors was flanked by Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby and their little scissors Tuesday morning cutting the ribbon at the academy’s new soundstage on the Pinewood Atlanta Studios Production Center property in Fayetteville. (Staff photo by Danny Harrison)

GFA.logoGeorgia Film Academy’s full-featured soundstage on the Pinewood Production Center property in Fayetteville officially opened Tuesday morning, receiving applause from local film industry executives who say as many as 5,000 additional film industry jobs will become necessary within the next five years to keep up with forecasted production demand.
Located directly across Sandy Creek Road from the Pinewood Atlanta Studio campus, the 15,860 square-foot studio was built to the exact same standards as two of Pinewood’s main campus studios, which GFA leaders say will give their students a significant advantage when looking for jobs in the film industry. About 200 students are already enrolled in the two-course academy, which begins with a six-hour-credit, classroom-based course and is followed up by a studio-based, 12-credit-hour course. Upon completion of the two courses, a basic certificate is offered, or the credit hours can be applied to an associates or bachelor’s degree within the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia.
Currently, students take the courses on the campuses of Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Gwinnett Technical College, and at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios Production Center in Fayetteville.
Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin told Tuesday morning’s crowd of more than 100 that GFA represents a partnership between her organization and the University System of Georgia orchestrated by Governor Nathan Deal, who has been a key supporter of bringing the film and television industry to Georgia.
Corbin also praised Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy, a key owner of Pinewood Studios Atlanta, for his role in making GFA happen.
“Mr. Cathy, this could never be possible without your consistent support and your vision,” Corbin said. “We look forward to this continued partnership.”
Cathy, who has slowly and steadily become the spokesman and face of Pinewood Studios Atlanta, said his motivation to invest in Georgia’s film and television industry stems from his desire to “glorify God” and to influence culture through storytelling.
“This is so significant to the continued development of one of the most exciting industries in the nation and in fact even in the world as we see how pivotal and important media and entertainment and storytelling is to society and culture,” Cathy said. “It’s a fascinating industry.”
Cathy said he and his wife Rhonda has the same vision. He said they were touring Pinewood’s facility near London, England during the 2012 Olympic Games when she encouraged him to consider the opportunity of partnering with them.
“My wife grabbed my hand and said, ‘What an opportunity to influence people.'”
Cathy noted that the Atlanta premiere of “Captain America: Civil War,” which was Pinewood Studio Atlanta’s second film, will take place Sunday at The Fox Theatre.
Also taking part in Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting event was Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson.
“We’re excited that GFA is open in the City of Fayetteville,” Johnson said after the event. “We think it is a great opportunity for Fayetteville to be at the center of great film industry training and development.”

By Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.