Arts & Humanities Georgia Impact Society & Culture

UGA helps small businesses break into Georgia’s burgeoning film industry

SBDC film industry-h
The Small Business Development Center held a film industry seminar led by Judiffier Pearson from Clayton State that included a panel by (from right) Wendy Eley Jackson

Athens, Ga. – When the 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is held on Sunday, the state of Georgia will be well-represented. The film industry had a $6 billion impact on the state in the last fiscal year. Thanks to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, local companies are getting a piece of that business.

Working with the University System of Georgia, which has launched a Georgia Film Academy certificate program in response to the booming industry, the SBDC, a unit of Public Service and Outreach, is offering one-day workshops to help small-business owners learn how they can benefit. Dry cleaners, automobile detailers and caterers are among the businesses film companies need when they are in production.

“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people to take advantage of this new, growing industry, which seems like it’s going to stick,” said SBDC Director Allan Adams.

Nadine Levy was among the participants at a workshop in Athens led by Judiffier Pearson, a consultant with the SBDC office at Clayton State University. Levy, an architect from Tucker, had been looking for ways to break into the industry.

“I just haven’t been able to find an outlet to open a door, window, crack a ceiling, whatever, to come in,” Levy said. “This was my first opportunity to get a foot in the door and see what it’s all about.”

The Athens session was the first time Pearson had taught the course outside metro Atlanta, but she recognizes how the growth of the film industry, fueled by tax credits from the state, could make entertainment an important area for the SBDC.

Levy, whose architecture, design and project management business is called UpBuild Design, would like to do set design for the entertainment industry.

Two of the panelists at the workshop-Wendy Eley Jackson of Auburn Avenue Films and Nelson Burke of The Engineer Guy-have benefited from SBDC programming. They
emphasized how critical relationships are to building a reputation among production companies. Finding those starting points is one way the SBDC can help.

“We’ve already built a wealth of resources and relationships that a lot of our clients can take advantage of readily,” Pearson said. “There’s a big need for a resource like ours to help with business planning and strategic planning and financing and access to capital. All of the same things a non-entertainment related small business in Georgia would need, these companies need the same thing.”

For more on SBDC programs, see