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First Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television, and Digital Media Degree at University of Georgia

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The University of Georgia launched the state’s first Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Television, and Digital Media in the fall of 2020 and is well into its second year.  The degree is a two-year, six-semester program that combines classroom instruction, professional training, and hands-on filmmaking opportunities. It’s focused on writing, directing, producing, and post-production. The program started off with 12 enrolled students and is set to enroll 30 new students each year by 2024.

In 2021, the film and television industry in Georgia set a record with $4 billion in direct spending on productions in the state. The Georgia Film Office reported that these numbers were due to a lot of key factors, including the state’s overall attractiveness to the film industry, Georgia’s tax incentive to film in Georgia, as well as the strict Covid-19 safety protocols that were put in place and monitored to make film production possible.

Georgia's Film Industry

There is no sign of Georgia’s film industry slowing down. Most Georgia soundstages are booked through 2021 and some through 2022. Georgia currently ranks among the top three film and television production centers in the nation.

The focus of the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Television, and Digital Media is to produce highly trained filmmakers in Georgia. Ultimately, we would like to see many of our graduates from this film program start up their own companies such as production houses, writers’ rooms, etc. and add to the continuing momentum of Georgia being a leader in the film industry

-Dr. Jeff Springston, Director of Master of Fine Arts Programs for Grady College (helped design the program)

The program unfolds over two years (six consecutive semesters) with year one’s fall, spring, and summer semesters at the University of Georgia campus in Athens, with one day a week at the OFS Studios in Gwinnett County. In year two, the students take classes at the Georgia Film Academy and live in the Town at Trilith, a 935-acre master development for the creative industries in South Metro Atlanta that is home to Trilith Studios, the second largest purpose-built studio in North America which features 18 sound stages ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet, adjacent workshop facilities, and an extensive 400-acre backlot.

The University of Georgia has assembled an outstanding faculty team to teach the curriculum, all with extensive experience in television and film production:

  • Associate Professor Neil Landau, Director of Screenwriting, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Melrose Place, Doogie Howser, M.D., and The Magnificent Seven.
  • Professor Nate Kohn, Director of the Roger Ebert Film Festival; Executive Producer, Bayou Maharaja, Zulu Dawn, Executive Producer, Somebodies (TV series)
  • Assistant Professor Shandra MacDonald, Executive Producer, East Point, JINN
  • Assistant Professor Booker T. Mattison, Director, “The Gilded Six Bits,” Ungubani (Who Are You?)
  • Associate Professor Bryan Cole, Editor, Who Killed Malcolm X?, The C Word; Co-Editor, The Pursuit: 50 Years in LGBT Civil Rights
  • Associate Professor Julie Ray, Set Designer, Mindhunter, Neighbors 2, Love and Other Drugs

This graduate program is offered to students at a standard state tuition rate, making it one of the most affordable and accessible programs of its caliber in the country.

We are very pleased by the diversity in the program. The first class had more women than men and very good racial diversity with half of the students being black. The new cohort coming in this fall is much the same,” -Dr. Jeff Springston.

Katy Warren is a current student in the program and one of two students accepted into a grant competition with the Filmmaker’s First Fund, an organization dedicated to helping finance new filmmakers with promising feature-length projects. Katy had this to say about the program:

I received my acceptance for this graduate program in early March of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic. I just remember taking a deep breath and thinking this is the one piece of calm I have during these uncertain times. This graduate program is incredible, and I am really enjoying being a part of it.  The mentoring opportunities with the professors have been a dream come true. Associate Professor Neil Landau has helped me discover my potential and love for screenwriting. – Katy Warren

Applications for the fall 2024 cohort are open until December 1.  Students interested in applying should visit mfafilm.uga.edu and contact Dr. Jeff Springston with any questions:  Email: [email protected] and Phone: (706) 542-7833.

We hope you enjoyed Simply Amazing Living's “First Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television, and Digital Media Degree at University of Georgia” article. This article written by Autumn Murray originally appeared in Georgia Hollywood Review.

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