Local talent pool for film biz

The next Spielberg, Lupino or Coppola (Francis or Sofia) might come from Columbus State University. Who knows? He or she might already have.

CSU’s On-Set Film Production Certificate Program held its first graduation ceremony Monday, with 13 aspiring young filmmakers comprising the charter class. The program, affiliated with the Georgia Film Academy, is the product of a partnership among the university, the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Springer Opera House.

After all, as long as Georgia’s becoming the film industry’s Hollywood East, why not grow our own talent pool to lead the next generation of technical, creative and artistic talent?

You could call the booming film business in Georgia good news, except that it’s no longer news; Georgia’s growth as film production center is the worst-kept secret in entertainment media. Its economic impact is estimated in the $6 billion range, supporting some 100,000 jobs through direct or ancillary employment, and with another 3,000-5,000 jobs expected over the next five years.

What is news, and it is indeed good as well as flattering, is that CSU is one of only three schools chosen by the Georgia Film Academy to offer the initial program, in a partnership between the state’s University System and Technical College System. (Clayton State University and Gwinnett Technical College are the others.)

CSU President Chris Markwood said in a news release that university faculty and staff, primarily in the Department of Communication, “had to work very quickly to ramp up a program that turns out its first ready-to-work graduates.” Right now there are 13; by the end of next year, there should be at least 100.

Quiet on the set.

Criminal poverty

Streets and public areas crowded with homeless people are not a desirable situation for any city, including this one. Not even the most compassionate citizen wants to live and work under such circumstances.

That said, reports of how some American cities are cracking down on the homeless put this community’s efforts to deal with homelessness in an even more favorable and humanitarian light.

As rising costs of living make the homeless problem in parts of America more acute, some cities are arresting people for sleeping in public, living in vehicles, and even sitting or lying in certain parts of the city. (It’s hard to imagine a well-scrubbed professional man or woman being hassled by authorities for grabbing 40 winks on a park bench.)

No doubt some of these city officials, especially police, are caught in the middle, and stuck in what feels (perhaps rightly) like a no-win situation. Residents and tourists don’t want cities overrun with homeless people and panhandlers, most of whom are harmless but a few of whom can be frightening and legitimately dangerous.

Still, depending on how (and how harshly) such laws are applied, the sense that destitution is being criminalized is hard to avoid.