Grady students adapt EMST club to handle COVID-19 changes

When The Industry was created in the fall of 2018, then-freshmen Ashton Bruce and Emily Minnick had no idea they’d be running the club in the middle of a pandemic during the last semester of their college career. 

The Industry provides a variety of opportunities for students to connect with each other as well as recent alumni in the entertainment industry. Due to the coronavirus, Bruce and Minnick had to adapt, moving club meetings on Zoom and complying with department standards to limit student production crews. 

Bruce is a third-year from Dawsonville, and Minnick is a fourth-year from Canton. Both will be graduating this spring.

Students in The Industry tend to work with those within their COVID-19 bubble, club co-presidents said. (Photo: Aleesa de Castro)

The club works to send out cast and crew calls for student film productions and conducts a small writers room, where a handful of students peer edit scripts and work with Professor Matthew Evans to find their screenwriting voice. They also host screenings of student work and Q&A events and panels with industry professionals.

Despite the challenges, both Bruce and Minnick said there’s been a silver lining for their club in the middle of the pandemic. They’ve heard from new speakers and actively engaged with new club members.

“I think our numbers have done really well to sustain considering that we’ve gone entirely virtual,” Bruce said. “I’m really happy with how we’ve grown through the pandemic.”

The Zoom meetings have included more appearances from industry professionals outside of Atlanta, like Los Angeles and New York City. Post production and writer’s rooms for television are based in Los Angeles, Minnick said, so students who are interested in those specific areas can understand the different career possibilities on each coast.

“I think it gives people who are interested in the industry but don’t know where exactly they want to settle a better insight to make decisions for their future,” Bruce said.

The remote workforce has expanded within the entertainment industry due to COVID-19, but upcoming graduates are nervous for their future careers. While Bruce and Minnick admitted that’s always been a pre-pandemic reality, they feel just as prepared to graduate in part because of the emphasis the EMST department has placed on safe productions that mirror the industry itself.

Some of the new logistics to produce student films include downsizing crews and placing an emphasis on working with others near your bubble who follow COVID-19 safety precautions.  

The pandemic has also changed how entertainment and media studies students tell their stories. Minnick explained scenes between characters have become less intimate to allow for social distancing, and typical themes cover isolation and technology. When the pandemic hit, Bruce and Minnick had just begun their second semester in the major, which means they still don’t know the reality of producing without these guidelines.

The Industry club members gather for a photo after working on “Trust the Process,” another student-produced film. Photo courtesy of Aleesa de Castro.

They hope the changes they made because of the pandemic will help make the club more accessible in the future to students who wouldn’t have been able to attend meetings previously. Minnick said having online meetings and presentations would have helped her get involved earlier.

“There was a lot of hesitation, being like a first-generation college student, not being familiar with the film industry at all and also being a woman in film,” Minnick said. “I think I felt very scared to put myself out there and just like go for it. So you know, very much encouraging people to get in on it as soon as they can and not being afraid.”

Club spotlight: Talking Dog

This club spotlight was written by Bobbi Miller, Talking Dog’s public relations director.

In our second year as a joint advertising and public relations agency, Talking Dog is continuing to push the boundaries of creative and effective branding for clients, both local and national. Our agency is comprised of 62 of the brightest students at Grady, that include representatives from all Grady majors and also other majors like communications, graphic design and digital marketing.

The University of Georgia is breaking new ground in various fields of research and our Fetch team is following suit. Fetch is a team comprised of 7-10 researchers who are assigned to each of our client teams. For the duration of the year, the Fetch team conducts research within one of the most elusive groups in the market: millennials. This age group is the largest generation since the baby boomers and the patterns and buying behaviors that they exhibit are of great value to businesses today. Through various research methods, like surveys and focus groups, the Fetch team collects insights that help their client teams with branding strategies. In addition to helping client teams, the members of the Fetch team are compiling a cohesive bank of important research regarding millennials. 

“Talking Dog has been a invaluable experience. The fact that I’m gaining skills in a agency doing real work, for real clients is something that I know will make me stand out to future employers.”

— Cori Lowenstein, Project Manager, Advertising, Class of 2020
The Coca-Cola team went to visit the Coca-Cola headquarters for their first client visit. They toured the facilities, met with executives and received their creative briefing on what Coca-Cola is looking for from the team. 

Our teams have created content for clients including Marti’s at Midday, Athens Bagel Co. and Porsche Driving School. In their work, client teams have done logo redesign, website creation and even full out campaigns that include social media marketing, event planning and graphics. Every year, our clients get better and better and we’re proud to announce that we currently have client teams working with companies like Luckie & Co – Marketing Agency and Coca-Cola.

“Talking Dog is where I gained my first first agency experience ever and where I learned to have confidence in my abilities and strengths. I have also gained the opportunity to meet and befriend so many talented, amazing people. Having the opportunity to gain industry experience while cultivating long-lasting friendships is an experience unlike any other. I am so glad that I chose to be involved with Talking Dog.”

– Maya Jones, Director of Fetch, Public Relations, Class of 2019

Within our agency, public relations and advertising majors work in tandem to create incredible campaigns. Our clients have found it to be extremely beneficial to work with a team that brings the best of both majors together. We strive ourselves on continuing to bring the best and brightest together to take client work to the next level.

We are extremely excited for our clients, our teams, and the work that is being done within the agency.

For more information about Talking Dog, visit the Talking Dog website, or follow Talking Dog on Twitter (@talkingdoguga) and Instagram (@talkingdogagency).