Arts, Education

Ga. High School Students Can Soon Study Screenwriting

Students at the Georgia Film Academy set up for an exam.
Students at the Georgia Film Academy set up for an exam.
Credit Kyle Sudu

Georgia high school students will have a new English class to choose from in the fall. State officials have approved a new dramatic writing course for film, television and theater.

The Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Film Academy, the Technical College System of Georgia, the University System of Georgia and the Fayette County Public Schools collaborated to create the class, which is geared toward students interested in working in the film industry.

“We’re working in collaboration with higher education, business leaders, and communities to prepare students for future employment and respond directly to industry needs,” state Schools Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement.

The course will count as an English Language Arts credit for high school graduation, as well as an English unit for USG admission.

“This new initiative that is beginning in high schools is really the beginning of a series of initiatives and actions to make sure that Georgia trains and keeps writers — content creators — here in our state,” said Jeffrey Stepakoff, executive director of the Georgia Film Academy.

Jeffrey Stepakoff is the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy, which helped develop the new dramatic writing course for high schools. (Kyle Sudu)
Jeffrey Stepakoff is the executive director of the Georgia Film Academy, which helped develop the new dramatic writing course for high schools. (Kyle Sudu)

Georgia already has plenty of jobs for people who want to work in lighting, construction or props, known in the film industry as “below-the-line” trades. State leaders developed the Georgia Film Academy to train workers for those jobs. Stepakoff says the school will continue to do that.

Now, state leaders want to expand the state’s burgeoning film business to include jobs like screenwriters and content developers, the so-called “above-the-line” trades.

“We’re really asking and putting into place initiatives that address, ‘How do we build an industry here that is permanent and sustainable?’” Stepakoff said.

Stepakoff says the state will eventually offer more writing courses, from high school to graduate school. He says Georgia is the first state to build a film industry from the ground up.

He says, in addition to production work, the state will eventually offer jobs in writing, post-production, distribution, financing and representation.