It will be a Hollywood moment next Tuesday with Columbus State University bringing television and film veteran Jeffrey Stepakoff, a writer and producer, here to talk about the industry and its burgeoning presence in Georgia.
The program, which is free to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Legacy Hall inside the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, 900 Broadway in Columbus. It comes with CSU, in partnership with the Springer Opera House, recently starting a two-course training program designed for those looking to earn a living in the film and TV production field.
“This is our fourth program in the (speaker) series, and the topic is especially timely with the launch of our new film certification program in January,” Danna Gibson, CSU Department of Communication chair, said in a statement.
CSU said 48 students are now taking the certificate courses, which include training on equipment and time spent on a professional production set. The Georgia Film Academy, of which Stepakoff is the executive director, lists on its website various jobs needed for production — set dressers, props, hair makeup and wardrobe, production assistants, sound mixers and boom operators, camera operators and assistants, on-set lamp operators, location managers, script supervision and video assistance.
The film and TV industry has an estimated $6 billion annual impact on the state, with the Georgia Film Academy citing growth of 3,000 to 5,000 new jobs over the next three to five years. The jobs pay an average of $84,000 yearly, it says.
Stepakoff, who lives in the Atlanta area, is expected to discuss the academy’s role in the current growth, his own career, the potential impact of the industry on Columbus and how the new training program can help meet the demand of skilled workers. The academy also is partnering with the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia.
With nearly three decades of professional experience in film and TV, Stepakoff, also an author, has written, produced or helped with production of nearly 40 television episodes and 15 series on broadcast and cable networks, according to his website. He has worked with various studios, including 20th Century, Paramount, Fox and ABC. His TV credits include “The Wonder Years,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Major Dad,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Simon & Simon.”
Many movies and TV shows have been filmed all or in part across Georgia through the decades, including John Wayne’s “The Green Berets” in the 1960s at Columbus and Fort Benning, and more recently, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.” One of the hottest TV series being filmed in the state at the moment is AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which is based out of Senoia, southeast of Atlanta, but with shooting in various countryside settings and old industrial buildings.