Faced with the depletion of his Post-9/11 GI Bill, this U.S. Navy veteran was on the verge of falling three semesters short of the bachelor’s degree he is pursuing at Columbus State University. But thanks to the inaugural scholarship he received, he now remains on track to become certified for a lucrative job in one of Georgia’s fastest-growing industries.
Timothy Pitts, a former welder and Navy emergency medical technician, was awarded the $5,000 Georgia Power Business of Film Rising Star Student Scholarship at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 Business of Film conference Thursday in the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.
The scholarship not only will help him earn his degree “but also show my children that, no matter where you start in life, you can find your purpose and pursue your passion,” Pitts said in CSU’s news release.
“Georgia Power has worked closely with the state to help support and grow the film industry in Georgia,” Anne Kaiser, vice president of community and economic development at Georgia Power, said in the company’s news release. “We know that as the film industry grows in our state, so does the need for a diverse and experienced workforce to support it. That’s why we partnered with the Atlanta Business Chronicle on this scholarship — so we can help a deserving student right here in Georgia prepare for a successful career in film.”
Danna Gibson, chairwoman of CSU’s Department of Communication, explained how deserving.
“Timothy has shown himself diligent in his studies and grateful for the opportunity to complete a degree,” Gibson said in CSU’s news release. “Timothy is the perfect fit for this prestigious life-changing award.”
Gibson nominated Pitts for the scholarship. He has a 3.75 grade-point average and expects to graduate in the summer of 2020.
“Timothy has excelled in his film production courses and has volunteered on numerous productions sets,” Gibson said. “His work ethic has won him the admiration of professors and producers alike — one who asks for Timothy by name for upcoming film productions.”
As reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in August, a study by FilmL.A. analyzed the 100 top-grossing feature films released in the United States during 2017, and Georgia and the United Kingdom tied for second with 15 each, trailing only Canada, which had 20. California was fourth with 10. Georgia was No. 1 in 2016 with 17 feature films produced in the state — more than double the eight feature films produced in Georgia during 2014.
“We’re so pleased to partner with Georgia Power on the annual Business of Film event and this inaugural scholarship,” David Rubinger, president and publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, said in CSU’s news release. “Through their economic development and workforce development initiatives, Georgia Power plays a major role in recruiting the film industry to our state, and they understand the importance of attracting and keeping film dollars in Georgia.”
Counting TV productions and smaller films, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August that 455 projects qualified for Georgia’s tax credits, as much as 30 percent if they spend at least $500,000 in the state.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced in July 2017 that the state’s film industry generated an economic impact of an estimated $9.5 billion during that fiscal year. That’s nearly double the figure Deal’s office announced in August 2014.
Organizations such as the Columbus Film Commission are helping the local area get pieces of that pie as more productions are being filmed in the Chattahoochee Valley.
In August, CSU opened a state-of-the-art sound stage and production facility at 7100 Jamesson Road, a former warehouse owned by the W.C. Bradley Company. Now called Flat Rock Studio, it’s the new home of CSU’s TV and film production program, where 56 students were enrolled in CSU’s branch of the Georgia Film Academy.
Two years ago, when CSU celebrated the film certificate program’s inaugural graduating class of 13 students, the university’s news release reported that the Georgia film industry directly or indirectly comprised a workforce of more than 100,000 and expected to add 3,000-5,000 jobs by 2021, with an average salary of $84,000.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.