Three students take home awards at 2022 BEA Festival of Media Arts

Work created by students in Grady College’s Department of Entertainment and Media Studies earned high recognition at this year’s Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts competition. 

Benjamin Otten, an EMST student from Athens, Georgia, earned an award of excellence in the competition’s narrative category for his short film “As it Lies.” Likewise, Sherry Liang, an EMST student from Johns Creek, Georgia, and MFA student Taylor Potter (AB ‘21), who is from Acworth, Georgia, both took home awards of excellence in the short narrative film/half-hour television category. Liang was recognized for her film “Cheater, Cheater,” while Potter received recognition for her film “Wheelhouse.”

Each year, this competitive challenge receives more than 1,500 submissions from students and faculty from around the world. The BEA, a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., focuses on driving insights in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals around the globe. 

Otten’s “As it Lies” wins award of excellence, narrative category

Otten’s “As it Lies” tells the story of a grief-stricken golfer, Phil, who notoriously does not play it as it lies on the course or off. However, this habit is challenged with the arrival of a divot tool from Phil’s late father, and he has to decide whether to become the person his family needs him to be or to fall further into the bunker. 

Otten, who started writing his script in Professor Matthew Nolte Evans’ class, said that he found a lot of inspiration from both movies like “Field of Dreams” that use sports as metaphors and from his own experience playing with his dad on the golf course.

“I was really excited to see it selected as a finalist in the most competitive category of the festival,” Otten said about his film. “This really assured me that the amount of work that went into the project (from development to post) was worth it. It’s also encouraged me to produce more work to submit and possibly grab a top prize in the coming year.”

Liang’s “Cheater, Cheater” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Liang’s dark comedy series “Cheater, Cheater” follows a student journalist’s investigation of her competitive high school’s cheating scandals, which lead to webs of deception and corruption beyond control. 

Liang, who thanks Professor Evans for helping her find her voice and confidence in screenwriting, gained inspiration for the script by looking back at her own high school experience. 

“Writing a script about the absurdities of attending a competitive high school is much cheaper than therapy,” said Liang. “Four years later, I’m still processing my high school experience — mostly characterized by crippling academic pressures, but I also have fond memories of friends, family and growing up in a vibrant Asian community that I hoped to capture in narrative form.” 

This was the first time Liang has ever submitted a script to anything out of class, she explained. For that reason, Liang said she is flattered that people found the story entertaining. 

“There’s a long way to go for the story,” said Liang. “I’ve already rewritten parts of it. But I’m proud of myself for starting a script that I’ve been putting off for so long … two years, to be exact.”

Potter’s “Wheelhouse” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Potter’s script tells the story of Dani Brubaker, a failed screenwriter. After returning from Los Angeles to her humble origins in Georgia, Brubaker receives one last chance to prove herself—on a reality car show. However, there are three problems with her potential career saving opportunity: Dani knows nothing about cars, she is forced to move back in with her parents and the show is on the brink of falling apart. 

Potter, who thanks Constance Burge of the MFA Narrative Media Writing program for helping with the project, got the idea for the story after working on a reality car show in spring 2020. 

“It was an absolutely crazy time, and I thought to myself, this show writes itself,” said Potter. “This past fall, in my first semester of the MFA, I decided to write what I know and set out to pen this script, which incorporates a fictionalized version of my experience working on a reality car show.”

This is the second year in a row Potter has been awarded at BEA festival, splitting the last year’s top overall prize in the student category with Ana González (AB ‘21) for their television pilot “Buyer’s Remorse.”

Potter said she is “so excited and thankful to have a script accepted and awarded at BEA two years in a row.”

“Receiving an award from them really means a lot to me and helps affirm that I’m on the right path,” Potter added. “It’s also really fun to share this experience with another Grady student, Sherry Liang, who received an award of excellence as well. Here’s to writing the next one!”

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a short film from Booker T Mattison premieres December 3

The short film showcases collaboration from EMST students and alumni.

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a new short film from Booker T Mattison, assistant professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, is set to premiere December 3.

This short film is a triptych, meaning it is three separate works of art that are unified by a common theme. The commonality in this triptych is Covid-19.

The film features three narrative chapters. Each highlights a different protagonist — one white American, one Asian-American and one African-American. Through those lenses, the film explores food insecurity, homelessness, xenophobia and police brutality all amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020.

“AMERICAN Tryptych” provides a look at the pandemic through the lenses of different American ethnicities (photo submitted).

“”AMERICAN Triptych” also serves as a veritable showcase of the talent that we have in the department of entertainment and Media studies in Grady College, the Design & Technology MFA in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at Franklin College and our new MFA in Film, TV Production and Digital Media,” said Mattison.

Most of the professionals who worked on the film also teach in the MFA Film, Television, and Digital Media program, an innovative program where students study one year on campus in Athens and one year at Trillith Studios.

Mattison is the film’s writer and director. Shandra McDonald, the film’s producer, is based at Trillith Studios. Bryan Cole is the film’s editor.

Julie Ray and Ivan Ingermann, the production designer and costume designer, teach in the Design & Technology MFA.

Dave Kruetzer, the gaffer, teaches production in the Film Studies department.

The cinematographer is Garland McLaurin, a Peabody Award-winning cinematographer who previously taught EMST students.

“AMERICAN Triptych” is a group effort with faculty, alumni and current students. The film gave UGA students an opportunity to work on a professional production with award-winning filmmakers.

Cyrus Townsend (AB ’19) worked as the assistant editor. Townsend is currently a content operations edit apprentice at WarnerMedia Studios. He is excited about the ever-growing community of filmmakers in Georgia.

“I loved getting back and touch with Mattison and a lot of my peers from UGA,” Townsend said. “I feel as though it’s poetic that after the pandemic, I felt very distant from my peers and this film about people going through the pandemic is what brings us back together!”

The film premieres was created during the pandemic and ensured all cast and crew remained healthy during production.(photo submitted).

Demi Lehman is a double major in EMST and Theatre. She is one of the actors in “AMERICAN Triptych.” She had briefly met Mattison in Dean Charles Davis’ career explorations class designed to introduce pre-Grady students to opportunities within the college. Lehman recognized Mattison’s name on a casting call website for actors. That led to an audition and being cast for the role.

“My favorite part of this project was how kind and collaborative everyone was throughout the entire process,” Lehman said. “It was even cooler for me to see how students and faculty from UGA came together to create a really impressive and efficient set. It was the perfect blend of both of my majors and I got to see the skills I’ve learned in a classroom in action on set.”

Other students involved in the film include Samantha Eubanks, design production assistant, Cash Robinson, key grip, Brandt Tharpe, camera production assistant and second assistant director and Cullen Herter, who shadowed the production.

There is a UGA Spotlight on the Arts virtual event on November 17 where guests can learn about the art of collaboration in filmmaking and ask questions. In addition to Mattison, participants include McDonald, Ray, Ingermann, and Cole, all from Theatre and Film Studies. All five panelists are involved in teaching within UGA’s new MFA program in Film, Television, and Digital Media. Register here.

The film premieres on Friday, December 3 at 6 p.m. in the Balcony Theatre at the Fine Arts Building. Masks are strongly encouraged at the screening.

Keith Wilson awarded Sundance documentary grant

Keith Wilson, a lecturer in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, was named recipient of a grant from the nonprofit Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program.

The fund offers non-recoupable support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation from filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create.

Wilson is the producer of the film, “I Didn’t See You There,” a documentary about a disabled filmmaker who launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom and (in)visibility when a circus tent goes up near his apartment. The film is directed by Reid Davenport.

“Receiving this grant is transformative for our project,” Wilson said of the grant. “Securing funding for independent, artist-driven documentary work is always an uphill battle, so the financial piece of the award is greatly appreciated.”

Wilson was named a 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for the same film project earlier this year. The Fellowship included participation in a week-long Producers Summit, as well as year-long mentorship, creative support and networking opportunities with industry professionals.

“In many ways, the intangible support the Sundance Institute has provided us in the form of mentorship, professional development, and access to industry networks, have been even more essential than the finances,” Wilson added.  

The Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the world. The fund has been a critical force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, and provocative ways, and has created cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time.

A total of $600,000 in unrestricted grant support has been provided to the projects in various stages of production and distribution, including eight in development, eight in production, three in post-production, and one in post-production and impact. The projects’ subject matter feature topics of disability, feminist history, globalization, grief and loss, and housing inequality, among other areas. A complete list of recipient projects can be viewed here.

Grants are made possible by The Open Society Foundations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Kendeda Fund.

This cycle, eight out of the ten U.S. films granted are helmed by at least one BIPOC director. This statistic reflects the fund’s commitment to emerging artists whose voices have been historically marginalized in hegemonic Western societies.

“With this expansive cohort, the Documentary Film Fund is holding true to its commitment to independent storytelling. As we celebrate 20 years of funding hundreds of films, these films are a tangible representation of all that we stand for and value,” said Carrie Lozano, Sundance Institute, Director of Documentary Film Program and Artist Programs.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Alaina Booth

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Believe it or not, people that don’t know me are really surprised when I tell them that I’m in school. I never talk about it because I’m always shooting or editing videos for my company, and I travel so often (shoutout only Tuesday and Thursday classes) that people don’t really ever see me posting about school.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

I have a little personal office space for my business in the Entrepreneurship building in Studio 225. It’s such a vibe.

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

When I thought about answering this question, I realized it was never really a choice for me. I knew I belonged in Grady, and I didn’t really think about applying to any other school. Throughout high school, I knew I wanted to do something creative, and I started making videos of my life throughout my senior year. When I got to UGA, I started out as an advertising major, but ultimately the world of entertainment excited me more. I’ve always been making things into stories, and I’m a huge dreamer, and being EMST just makes so much sense. I remember sitting in the intro class for EMST and one of the slides on the board saying, “Move to LA” and I just knew these were my people and this was my program.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about telling honest stories and I want that to be my line of work, but nothing makes me more excited than connecting with people on an emotional level through video. Outside of this, I am really passionate about encouraging people that they can do it – whatever it is they want to do. I want to be the person people feel safe talking about their dreams with, and throughout my career, I want encouragement and inspiration to be a common thread. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

My favorite piece of advice is “Do what you can with what you have and who you know” and I love it because I think people get really overwhelmed that they need to be making HUGE things with expensive gear and amazing taste as soon as they start, but really that’s just not how you learn. And it’s way too much pressure to put on yourself. You just have to start, and you have to let go of what other people will think about your work when you’re starting out. When people ask me how I’ve built such an extensive portfolio, I tell them I literally just started! I kept saying yes to things I thought I wasn’t ready for and showing up to them like I knew exactly what I was doing. People believed me, and then eventually, I believed me too! 

What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

This past summer I spent two months in Los Angeles. Throughout the summer I got an internship, worked on a couple freelance projects, continued to run my business remotely and finally, had the opportunity to be a production assistant on a huge documentary shoot. Throughout the summer, I drew knowledge from every single course I’ve taken in the EMST program, and I was so grateful for my education that I sent Dr. Hamilton an email thanking him. I knew how to give proper script coverage because of my writing for digital media class. I could properly set up a C-stand because of production basics, and I could create really awesome pitch decks thanks to the producing for the screen class. It was a very rewarding summer to see how much my education is really showing up in my future career path, and I’m really grateful for the foundation Grady has laid for me.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Well, I love Los Angeles, so the plan is to move there and start working. I really like pretty much everything, so I’m open to following the path that excites me most. I’m particularly interested in producing, because I’m definitely a sales-minded person and will pitch in front of people all day long. I like unscripted, because I like watching the story unfold itself rather than trying to control all the aspects of it. Lately, I’m also considering marketing, because I’ve realized I approach the majority of my work with thinking “how can we make people feel an emotional connection to this piece of work?” Before I move to Los Angeles, though, I might take a year or so to travel and live in different parts of the country. I think as a media creator, the more life experience you have, the better creator you will be. So, I could call it “taking a gap year” but in reality, it’s an investment in myself as a creative person. Who knows where I’ll be in a year — I just know it won’t be boring. 

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?

Easily Instagram. I think it’s mind-blowing that one day in like 30 years, my kids will be able to scroll down and see pictures that I posted when I was 20 years old. I mean how cool is it that we all have an internet record of our lives? If I think about it too much, I will get emotional.   

Who is your professional hero?

It might seem kind of random, but Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal and GIRLBOSS. It’s not really what she does as a profession that I look up to, but rather how she does it and how she conducts herself as a professional. She just shows up 100% unapologetically. She uses humor and realness to connect with people, and she’s not shy about her failures. She’s bold, genuine and she just makes people feel like they can do anything they want. I love that. Even though my career looks different from hers, I want to show up similarly in professional spaces. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Rather than one specific moment, I’m really proud of myself for moving to L.A. alone. It wasn’t easy at first and it took a minute to adjust, but I’m really proud that I believed in myself and trusted myself to take the leap. It was the most life-giving summer I have ever experienced. So, I think rather than one singular moment, it’s all the little moments I had driving on I-10 (or I guess, sitting in traffic on I-10) that I was like “oh wait, I’m really living my dream!” 

EMST’s Matthew Evans workshops TV pilot through prestigious Stowe Story Labs

Matthew Evans, Assistant Professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, recently had the honor of collaborating with some of the finest writers in the country through the Sidewalk Narrative Lab from Stowe Story Labs.

Evans career in screenwriting and active writing projects both guide his teaching content for EMST students. (Photo: Dayne Young)

The lab is typically hosted in conjunction with the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, though it was a virtual event this year.

“I was honored to be selected by the Stowe Story Labs, which are known for their fantastic workshops, top-notch industry mentors and its network of alumni,” Evans said. “It’s validating to have one’s work selected, and humbling to share it with other writers.”

The four-day program blends presentations, mentorships and discussion to help writers hone their crafts. The Stowe Story Labs requires participants to be invited. Only a few, including Evans, of more than 600 applicants were invited this year.

At the late-August virtual event, Evans presented his writing and received feedback from some other of entertainment’s best minds.

He brought his newly-written sci-fi pilot “Hellas” as a launching point for group brainstorming. It is an original one-hour television show set on Mars in the dystopic near-future.

Evans said the collaboration enhanced his work, especially the process of pitching it to industry mentors in the Sidewalk Narrative Lab.

“When pitching, you really have to strip away all that stuff that doesn’t matter—simply because you have to be so concise,” Evans said. “So, that level of focus was helpful in thinking about my main character, which then led to me rewriting some of the script’s scenes.”

Matthew Evans began teaching at Grady College in 2019.

Many of the broader lectures encouraged techniques that helped shape Evans and his future work, including lessons he plans to incorporate with his students in EMST at Grady College.

In particular, Evans cites expertise from David Pope, a script analyst. Pope encouraged authors to pursue “speaking about the unspoken.”

“Using clips from movies, he had some great examples of subtext—including the use of humor, passive-aggression, and metaphor,” said Evans. “I plan on adding these to my toolbox when teaching.”

A member of the Writers Guild of America, West, Evans’ portfolio already includes scripts written for HBO Films, Cloud Nine Productions at CBS TV, and more. He plans to pitch “Hellas” to executives in Hollywood with hopes of it getting picked up for production.

A conversation with Randall Emmett, film and television producer

 Randall Emmett is an American producer of more than 100 films and television shows. He is also the chairman and co-founder of the production company Emmett/Furla Oasis Films. Randall will share his own personal career trajectory and current trends/challenges in finance and production. Remaining time will be reserved for Q&A.

 

Diverse identities are often lost in translation when movies and television are dubbed for other languages

When movies and television are translated to other languages, LBGT and BIPOC individual characteristics are often lost or reduced, according to research by Laurena Bernabo, assistant professor in entertainment and media studies.

Many characteristics are lost when television programs are translated, according to Bernabo’s research. (Photo: Laurena Bernabo)

To best understand the processes behind dubbing an American television show to other languages, Bernabo made multiple visits to New Art Dub in Mexico. It is the company that dubs many Fox shows. She also interviewed Fox executives in Los Angeles and Brazil. Bernabo focused on the show “Glee,” which is known for featuring characters that identify as LBGT and/or BIPOC, and their community storylines.

“Translation tends to lose a lot of the ways identity is communicated aurally, both through the vocabulary people use to talk about themselves and the tones and speech patterns associated with different groups,” Bernabo said.

In most cases, Bernabo found that executives and dubbing professionals did not have malicious intent when stymieing character traits. Rather, little attention was paid to the talent that executed the dubs and how they performed.

For example, Bernabo found when dubbing studios don’t employ Black voice actors to dub Black characters, those dubbed characters tend to sound like their white counterparts, even when the original actor’s voice is discernably different from white actors’ voices.

Laurena Bernabo

“There are also lots of references to one’s identity, be they Black or gay, that might get lost in translation because they’re deemed offensive, or they utilize references that the dubbed version’s audience won’t understand,” Bernabo said.

In the case of “Glee,” some of the character traits altered in translation included voice tone, pitch, inflection and connection to cultural references.

Bernabo recommends television executives and dubbing companies cultivate and employ voice actors of the same ethnicity to that of the character their voice portrays. Also, when cultural or local references are made in a script that pertain to race, gender or sexuality, Bernabo suggests the voice actor be educated and aware for how that dialogue in a script represents specific culture in the show.

The danger in intentionally or unintentionally scrubbing diverse personality characteristics from television figures is that real people may be less inclined to celebrate individualism.

“A multicultural approach to society tends to celebrate difference and the ways a culture is enriched by virtue of a heterogeneous population,” Bernabo says. “But when characters are dubbed and, due to numerous intersecting factors, made to sound like a more homogenous group, the ways in which characters differ from each other become muted.”

More attentive dubbing can prevent stereotypes from being exacerbated, but also can use character personality to challenge local stereotypes in a particular region.

You can read Bernabo’s published research in its entirety:

High school students learn, hone skills at virtual Summer Media Academy

Thirty-four high school students from around the country studied media and completed specialized portfolio projects during the virtual 2021 Summer Media Academy at the University of Georgia.

The program, a partnership between the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and UGA Summer Academy, was divided into three weeks by subject: Journalism, June 14-18; Advertising and Public Relations, June 21-25; and Entertainment and Media Studies, June 28-July 2.

Hands-on learning was a focus of the Academy. Journalism participants wrote articles, made photo essays or produced podcasts for The Post-Covid Post digital publication. Participants in the ADPR Academy collaborated as a group to craft a campaign for a nonprofit organization. EMST participants wrote scripts for short films or designed a movie poster.  A showcase of their work is available at summermediaacademy.wordpress.com.

“This camp has allowed me to explore many different opportunities, and has also strengthened my initial skills,” said ADPR participant Jaidyn Mosby. “This organized camp helped me engage in public speaking and allowed me to show off my leadership qualities. I am extremely grateful for the educational opportunity that this camp provided me.”

Each course was designed and led by the following faculty and staff: Laurena Bernabo, assistant professor, EMST; Tom Cullen (MA ‘18, MFA ‘21), lecturer, ADPR; and Charlotte Norsworthy (AB ‘19, MA ‘20), instructor, journalism. Recent graduate Emily Minnick (AB ‘21) co-taught the EMST camp and Stephanie Moreno (ABJ ‘06, MA ‘20), scholastic outreach coordinator, assisted with all of the camps.

ADPR participants researched a client, the Georgia Innocence Project, and crafted a mini campaign during the 2021 virtual ADPR Summer Academy.

Alumni guest speakers and other professionals also shared advice and offered participants glimpses into the range of careers available in the industry.

Journalism guest speaker Tori McElhaney (AB ‘18), who covers the Atlanta Falcons for The Athletic, advised participants to gain skills in many areas and across platforms. “Being able to be multifaceted in your skill set is so important because you do so many different things and you are on so many different platforms,” she said. “There really is something for everyone.”

A conceptual design for the upcoming movie Blade features a black and smokey background with the Marvel Studios red and black logo at the top. The title Blade is in an angular, silver font. The starring actor’s name, Mahershala Ali, is listed in an outlined white font on the left. An image of the actor appears in the middle. The premiere date of “Coming in 2023” is included in the white outlined font on the right side of the poster.
This conceptual movie poster was designed by EMST participant Micah Robinson.

Other journalism speakers included Rebecca Burns, publisher of the Red and Black; Hillary Davis, New Voices advocacy and campaign organizer, Student Press Law Center; Carlo Finlay, assistant director of the Carmical Sports Media Institute; Clare Norins, director of the UGA First Amendment Law Clinic; Kelsey Russo (AB ‘19), Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer at The Athletic; and Becca Wright (AB ‘19), CNN photo editor and freelancer.

Speaking to the ADPR participants, Angela Alfano (ABJ ‘10), senior director of corporate communications at Major League Soccer, emphasized the importance of networking.

“As you’re building your career, getting into college and doing your first internships and classes, it’s never too early to create what I like to call your own executive team,” she said. “Building your executive team is so important and crucial to your personal success. What has really been so instrumental in part of my career is having a ton of mentors.”

This logo for the news website publication features a white square with a dark blue border. The words “The Post-Covid Post” are left-justified in a dark blue sans serif font with Summer 2021 below also in dark blue.
This logo for The Post-Covid Post news website was designed with input from the journalism camp participants.

Alfano continued: “The diversity of thought and the diverse backgrounds is something so important to have in mentors…to advise your career and your transition from high school as a free agent to college as a free agent to landing that first job.”

Additional ADPR speakers included Megan Bush and Anna Kate Newall (AB ‘20) of Marketwake; Anne Noland (ABJ ‘15), senior director of communications for the Miami Dolphins; Marquan Norris (AB ‘21), brand intern at Edelman; and Dayne Young (ABJ ‘11), public relations specialist at Grady College.

Deja White (ABJ ‘17), digital marketing specialist at WarnerMedia, advised EMST campers to get involved early on in their college years with industry-related activities.

“Try to get into at least one thing that you are passionate about each semester,” she said. “And get into one thing that stretches you a little bit—that’s outside of your comfort zone… take a deep breath and take it one year at a time.”

Other EMST guests were Dugan Bridges (ABJ ‘06), freelance director and producer; Neil Landau, associate professor and professional screenwriter; Booker T. Mattison, assistant professor and professional filmmaker; and Keith Wilson, lecturer and professional cinematographer.

Participants from all camps also had the opportunity to learn more about UGA and Grady College from advisers Helen Mahany and Brittney Minor.

Information about 2022 Summer Media Academy opportunities will be available in late fall at grady.uga.edu/apply/high-school-discovery and www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/youth/summer-academy.

Keith Wilson selected as a 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow

New EMST lecturer Keith Wilson has been selected as a 2021 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow.

“This is a singular honor for documentary producers,” said Jay Hamilton, head of EMST. “Sundance is the premiere venue for independent filmmakers, and for Keith to have a project chosen for these programs places it at the forefront of new and exciting visual storytelling.”

Wilson’s documentary project for the labs is titled: “I Didn’t See You There.” Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency.

Along with nine other fellows, Wilson will be a part of the Sundance Institute’s weeklong Documentary Producers Lab July 25-29. Joining them for the Producers Summit during August 2-5 will be more than 50 industry leaders and 65 independent filmmakers. Both programs will be taking place digitally at https://collab.sundance.org/.

Keith Wilson is a director, creative producer, and visual artist whose work has been exhibited at Sundance, Berlinale, South by Southwest, Hot Docs, the U.S. National Gallery of Art, documenta14, and the Museum of Modern Art. He received his MFA in Film Production from the University of Texas-Austin, and grew up on a cul-de-sac in suburban Atlanta.

The Sundance Institute’s Producers Program champions the current and next generation of producers across fiction and nonfiction film and encompasses a year-round series of Labs, Fellowships, granting and events.

The Labs support emerging independent producers and engage the community of veteran producers who sustain the vibrancy and vitality of independent film. Under the guidance of advisors, the Labs allow fellows to deepen the creative potential of their projects, develop their creative instincts and evolve their storytelling, communication and problem-solving skills at all stages of their project. The fellows continue on through the Producers Summit and receive ongoing year-long mentorship, creative support, and networking opportunities with industry.

The Producers Summit brings together diverse sectors of the industry including financiers, packaging agents, distributors, and domestic and international sales representatives with emerging and mid-career producers for a revolving series of conversations around critical issues facing the field and producer sustainability. The program includes curated talks, one-on-one meetings, roundtables and a keynote conversation with Hasan Minhaj exploring the critical role of bold, personal storytelling.

Grady InternViews: Abbey Clark

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I stay up to date on news specifically to the states in the Southeast. My day begins with sending the summary I worked on the previous night of any top headline reports for the states in the Southeast. Throughout the day, I assist producers and anchors with any stories they may be working on.  We also have at minimum two daily meetings with the entire Southeast bureau team and ad hoc thereafter.  The job involves a lot of researching, writing and cold calling to get the right facts!

It is a remote internship as of now but generally is in person! Virtual has been nice because I am with my family, but I would really love the experience to work at CNN Center in Atlanta. I have been invited by leaders of the SE Bureau team to visit the office when I return to Georgia!

What has been the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)

What surprised me the most is the amount of news that is out there and what is required to get a news story on the air.

What is the most valuable lesson or skill you have learned during your internship?

Flexibility and eagerness to learn is key in being successful in this internship and I think with most jobs overall.

What has been the most memorable experience you have had during your internship so far?

I remember my second day at CNN I was asked to help Ryan Young, a CNN Correspondent, on a summer violence surge happening throughout the country and I had to cold call police departments throughout the southeast states and watch press conferences from the departments as well. It took me about four hours and hundreds of calls to gather all the information, but I did it and I was featured as a contributor in the byline of the article. 

What do you think made you stand out while applying for the job and what qualities do you have that are helping you succeed?

I think the diversity in things I am involved in or have experience with really helped me stand out. I have a certification in digital media arts and have numerous jobs pertaining to customer service, technology, retail, film, social media and more. Diversifying yourself with lots of skills is very important to stand out to a company showing that you are a fast learner and open to opportunity with everything you do.

Information about the internship from WarnerMedia: Ted Turner is the visionary who launched CNN. Since that day, the world has never been the same. The Ted Turner Maverick Internship is designed for the next generation of “mavericks” who will shape the journalism world to come. It’s designed to offer maximum exposure to CNN, while preparing the intern to lead the way into the new era of news and storytelling. Since 2020, one Grady College student has been selected by WarnerMedia and CNN as a Maverick Intern each summer.