Cherokee Film Summit Sparks “Reel Community Connection”
The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) hosted the Third Annual Cherokee Film Summit on March 10, 2022, at the YANMAR EVO//Center, sparking “reel community connection” for film enthusiasts from around metro Atlanta.
“COED is the liaison with the Georgia Film Office,” said COED President Misti Martin. “We work to grow the future workforce of the film industry and connect our current workforce with opportunities. The Cherokee Film Summit is the premier place to build these relationships.”
The power-packed day consisted of two events; a summit for Cherokee County School District CTAE Audio/Video Technology & Film Pathway students and an evening event to connect the local film industry. The day kicked-off with hands-on learning, networking, and six informative breakout sessions.
The dynamic line-up of breakout sessions featured a wide variety of topics, including production, cinematic lighting, storytelling with video, creative screenwriting, picture cars, and film festivals.
Erin Bethea, who presented sessions at both the student and evening summit, is the owner of Greenlight Acting Studios in Kennesaw, GA and co-owns her production company Argentum Entertainment with husband and actor Drew Waters. Bethea works closely with film professionals to support local productions and hire local talent. “It is really refreshing and encouraging to see all of the generations come together for the Cherokee Film Summit – from students all the way up to adults. “It is great to see how many people within the community are showing up to support film, network, and be a part of it.”
Michael Gene Conti, a writer-director-producer, presented a crash course in filmmaking to help summit goers develop their skills as visual storytellers. “Screenwriting informs everything within the industry, but the journey can be a tough one,” said Conti. “If I can help motivate students and keep a spark in their eye, then it is worth it.”
Representatives from Berry College, Chattahoochee Technical College, Kennesaw State University, and Reinhardt University also provided students with guidance on pursuing a career in communications, gaming, film, and multimedia.
Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film Office Lee Thomas headlined the summit’s evening event, sharing about Georgia-based productions and how direct spending by this top industry positively impacts our state and local economy.
Feature panelists for the summit included Ashley and Thomas Cantley along with Tom Cox of Stream MOKO. In 2020, Woodstock-based entrepreneur and filmmaker Thomas Cantley met local brand architect Tom Cox at the Cherokee Film Summit. Less than two years later, Stream MOKO, a new “good moods only” streaming startup was launched.
Metro Atlanta Chamber VP of Ecosystem Expansion joined entrepreneur and Hi-Rez Studios Founder and CEO Todd Harris to lead a discussion on gaming and esports, one of the state’s fastest-growing industries.
“We are working to get the word out to communities across the state that gaming is not just a fad,” said Wainscott. “Gaming and esports is a huge part of the creative ecosystem in Georgia. “It’s not just an event platform and something people can watch. It’s about jobs, investment, and getting our young people interested in these high-tech careers.”
Picture Car Coordinators Chris Almon and Drew Ward joined forces for a high-octane “car talk,” igniting interest in this specialized lane of Georgia’s film industry.
“Many people get started in the film industry and don’t even know that our department exists,” said Almon. “So, we brought a few vehicles from Stranger Things to showcase the variety of cars that we work with and share what we do on a daily basis.”
The film summit not only connects local creatives but business owners, residents, and entrepreneurs who are looking to tell their stories and connect their products or services to the film industry. Local business owner and entrepreneur Justin Kier felt the summit added tremendous value to those looking to connect. “The biggest takeaway has been the interesting mix of people – some from within the industry and others who came just to learn,” said Kier. “Seeing how it connects the county and how it all works together has been really impactful.”
To further connect with the Cherokee film industry, visit cherokeega.org or download the free “Filmed in Cherokee” Mobile app through the Apple App store or through Google Play.