At Monday night's meeting the Board of Education approved the sale of Rivers Elementary to River's Rock II, LLC, the group behind the Pinewood Studios development. While rumors had been circulating that Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) might move into the facility, the plans are actually broader than that.
Len Gough said that as many as six to eight local schools are interested in providing instruction at the facility, which would serve as hub of "film training," as Gough put it. He said the property will add building space an become a much needed source of "talent" of all kinds for film production, from electricians to costume designers and everything in between.
"There's a severe shortage of trained labor in the movie industry here in metro Atlanta," Gough said. "What we want to do is create a film training institution, which is different than your traditional film school."
Gough said negotiations are underway with six schools: Kennesaw State, Emory, Georgia State, SCAD, Clayton State and Georgia Tech. Each school offers unique qualities and programs, Gough said.
"What we're doing is that each of those different schools will provide a particular education component. The folks at Georgia Tech could bring computer graphics, the technical aspect. SCAD would bring the creative component like art, costumes, and design," Gough said.
While it's easy to associate the film industry with creativity, Gough said there is a very practical need for skilled laborers of all kinds.
"We learned when he filmed Hunger Games [in Atlanta] that the labor pool was completely used up. So we had to bring people from Louisiana and california. We just didn't have enough qualified talent [in Georgia]," Gough said.
To that end, Gough emphasized particularly the potential contribution from Southern Crescent Technical College, another school that is interested in being involved.
"Let's say you're al licensed electrician that works on homes. You could take a 7-10 week course and become certified for working in film," Gough said, "that could help many of the tradesmen that are unemployed due to the downturn in housing, but don't have the education and training to work on film sets."
Gough said that at its United Kingdom location, Pinewood Studios has taken a very active approach toward education.
"In the United Kingdom, pinewood already embraces internship and apprenticeship programs. They very much embrace those opportunities. They actually give financial stipends [to students] in the U.K.," Gough said.
Gough said that while the agreements with the various local schools have not been finalized, the goal is to begin the educational programs in the Spring of 2014. By then, there should be 25,000 square feet of additional classroom space added to the 86,000 square feet in the currently existing building. The plan is to add another 25,000 to 50,000 square feet by spring of 2015.