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UGA establishes Master of Fine Arts Film program

Georgia’s burgeoning film and television industry stands ready to benefit from an expanded workforce, thanks to an innovative new partnership between the University of Georgia, the Georgia Film Academy and Pinewood Forest, the new community in Fayetteville, Georgia, located adjacent to Pinewood Atlanta Studios.

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences have aligned with Pinewood Forest and the Georgia Film Academy to create a Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media program. The program is the first of its kind in Georgia, with students taking classes in an academic setting during the first year and producing projects in a major studio setting during the second year.

“The University of Georgia is uniquely positioned to house this interdisciplinary program that will make a lasting economic and educational impact on one of our state’s leading industries,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are grateful for the support of Dan Cathy and Pinewood Forest, the Georgia Film Academy, and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in helping us to establish it.”

There are nearly 45,800 direct motion picture and television industry jobs in Georgia, according to the Motion Picture Association. In the 2019 fiscal year, which ended June 30, Georgia hosted 391 projects that had a direct in-state spend of $2.9 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“As Georgia continues to grow as a world leader in film and TV production, UGA will help to meet our state’s critical need for world-class writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and other key personnel for years to come,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College.

The new MFA Film program is a significant addition to the university’s already strong educational offerings related to the film and television industry, including Grady College’s entertainment and media studies major and Franklin College’s film studies major.

“This program is an important step in the evolution of film studies at UGA as we continue to broaden our students’ creative abilities,” said Alan Dorsey, dean of Franklin College. “The collaboration between Franklin College and Grady College will produce many new imaginative projects and prepare a new generation of graduate students for exciting careers in global media.” 

MFA Film curriculum

The MFA Film program will matriculate its cohort in fall 2020. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2020, and can be viewed at

UGA’s MFA Film program is the only master of fine arts program in film production at a public university in Georgia. It will be offered to students at a tuition rate comparable to that of other graduate programs at the university, making it one of the most financially accessible programs of its caliber in the country.

Students are expected to range from recent graduates to those who have worked in the industry for a few years and are looking for a new challenge.

The MFA Film program will be a two-year (six-semester), 62-credit-hour program culminating in capstone experiences and professional internships.

During the first year of the program, students will study on the University of Georgia campus in Athens and take courses focused on writing for the screen, producing, directing, film history, audio production and lighting, among others.

During the second year, students will work on capstone projects and internships while living at Pinewood Forest, a 235-acre master-planned residential and mixed-use development. Second-year courses are expected to include advanced writing, advanced production, advanced directing, computer animation and thesis films.

“The vision for Pinewood has always been to create an extraordinary environment for the next generation of creators, storytellers and entrepreneurs,” said Dan Cathy, Pinewood Atlanta Studios owner, who has helped make the MFA program possible through personal financial support and accommodation at Pinewood Forest. “We are thrilled to partner with Jeffrey Stepakoff, President Morehead, Dean Davis and everyone involved by hosting these inspiring students and faculty at Pinewood.”

The MFA Film program will feature student-created films and television projects produced in collaboration with industry professionals each year.

Fundamentals and advanced courses in film and television production will be taught in partnership with the Georgia Film Academy, efficiently utilizing existing resources in the state’s acclaimed workforce program.

“Along with providing affordable, accessible, high quality training, this critical new professional degree program will help ensure that Georgia has its own complete and sustainable entertainment industry,” said Jeffrey Stepakoff, executive director of the Georgia Film Academy.

Industry-related workshops and lectures also will be sponsored by the program. As the program grows, partnerships will be established with additional professional production sites in Georgia.

The MFA in Film, Television and Digital Media is added to a stable of existing MFA programs at the university. An MFA in narrative nonfiction, which includes a screenwriting track, was launched in Grady College in 2015. Within Franklin College, the Lamar Dodd School of Art offers a studio art MFA, and the department of theatre and film studies offers a pre-professional MFA with concentrations in acting; scenic, lighting and costume design; and dramatic media.

Grady College is the founding home of the George Foster Peabody Awards, one of the most prestigious awards for powerful and enlightening stories in television, radio and digital media. Every entry submitted for Peabody Award consideration is archived at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries, representing the third largest media collection in the world.

ABOUT PINEWOOD FOREST: Pinewood Forest is a 235-acre master-planned residential and mixed-use development located in south metro Atlanta, Georgia, adjacent to Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Envisioned as a haven for storytellers, creators and entrepeneurs, the new urbanist community is a contemporary concept in walkable living. The Pinewood Forest development team is composed of chief visionary and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan T. Cathy, president Rob Parker, and project partners including real estate development firm Pace Lynch Corporation, town and residential planner Lew Oliver Inc., Piedmont Healthcare, multi-family developer Capstone, Nequette Architecture & Design, landscape design firm HGOR and a Builders Guild comprised of four premier home builders in the Atlanta area. For more information about Pinewood Forest, please visit