Atlanta’s role in producing music stars and providing venues for hit movies is well-established.
The city, and the state’s role in other parts of the entertainment industry, though, has room to grow.
That was a major part of the discussion during a day-long workshop Saturday organized by Georgia State University’s College of Law and Creative Media Industries Institute headlined by star rapper/actor/entrepreneur Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who grew up in Atlanta and studied at the university. More than 100 people attended, many students.
Financing and post-production of most entertainment projects is still dominated by New York and Los Angeles, Ludacris and others said during panel discussions Saturday. The speakers talked about how students and other Georgians can get more involved in those areas.
One potential challenge they discussed is the impact of the controversial “heartbeat bill” pushed by Gov. Brian Kemp and passed by the Georgia Legislature earlier this year. The bill outlaws most abortions once a doctor can detect a “heartbeat” — which is usually at about six weeks of pregnancy. A federal judge last month temporarily blocked the law from taking effect.
Ludacris and others said some artists and industry executives have told them they’re reluctant to work in Georgia because of the legislation. He hopes the concerns about the bill won’t stop the progress being made to create spaces for film and television projects in the state.
“We’re building more and bigger infrastructure to try to accommodate what the potential of what this city is actually capable of doing, and that’s exciting to me,” Ludacris said during the discussion. “And if I have anything to do about it ... I would love to help in any way that I can.”
Philana Williams, director of the city of Atlanta’s Office of Film & Entertainment, said the discussion about the bill among industry leaders outside the state underscores the need for more Georgians to be involved in all aspects of the entertainment industry. Audience members asked how content creators can create a path for themselves in the industry, particularly those outside metro Atlanta.
Ludacris hinted at his involvement in some upcoming projects in the university’s Creative Media Industries Institute. The university recently named him its artist-in-residence, where his role will include mentoring students and working with professors in the institute. Formed in 2014, the institute prepares students for careers in film, music and video game industries.
Its College of Law has a course this semester that is studying the financial and legal aspects of Ludacris’ career, such as contract negotiations, intellectual properties and fair and equal pay for music clients.
“(Ludacris) has been a valuable resource for us,” said Moraima “Mo” Ivory, director of the law school’s Entertainment, Sports and Media Law Initiative.
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