As the pandemic hit Georgia, we watched as residents of Italy, who were dealing with the virus a few weeks ahead of us, took to their balconies to connect al fresco. That video, which went viral in half a blink, was the harbinger of the pandemic, and one of its finer silver linings.
While we sheltered in place, we connected through film, personally and professionally shot. Film revealed our common struggles, celebrations, victories and milestones. It helped us laugh at ourselves, view life from new perspectives and consider our role in these times. Through that connection, we found community.
Film entertained and transported us, momentarily, from our difficulties. And, through our shared bewilderment at Carole Baskin, and our love for Ted Lasso, we connected again.
With community and connection fueling media consumption, streaming subscriptions skyrocketed, and content creation saw unprecedented demand. To meet that demand, Georgia’s film production industry blazed the trail back to set by implementing groundbreaking health protocols.
Cherokee County, whose reputation for creative problem solving with film teams is well known, stood ready to safely host filming. Location Manager Dodd Vickers was one of the first to scout our community post-pandemic for the film “High Expectations,” starring Kelsey Grammer.
“Cherokee has always been supportive and responsive,” said Vickers, whose team chose Canton and Woodstock locations due to walkability, as shuttle travel for crew was not yet permitted. Remarkably, even with scores of extras, the team never had one positive COVID-19 test. “The things we learned early on helped people in other markets. We had nothing but support from the community while there,” he said.
Cherokee’s trademark adaptability yielded a record-breaking number of inquiries and projects in 2020, and the community is on track to exceed those numbers for 2021, having attracted more complex productions such as Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” which filmed in downtown Canton.
Our local film scene has been strong, as well. Cherokee-based screenwriters have cranked out new scripts and videography, streaming businesses have opened, filmmakers have mounted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-compliant film teams, and creatives with dreams have hammered away at ideas.
Stream MOKO, the new streaming platform that shares profits with a charity of the subscriber’s choice, launched from Woodstock in October. The idea caught fire when Thomas Cantley, a local filmmaker/producer, met graphic designer Tom Cox at the Cherokee Film Summit. The two connected, and less than two years later, Stream MOKO launched. Previously a summit instructor seeking to inspire local filmmakers, this year, Cantley will return to the Cherokee Film Summit, planned for Jan. 27, seeking something else: content creators for Stream MOKO.
Cherokee Film Summit, designed to cultivate our film community by bringing business partners, film industry professionals and local creatives together to create meaningful connections, features breakout sessions, networking and expert panelists to ignite your reel ideas and provide connections for seeing them through.
To quote Cantley, “The Cherokee Film Summit is a great place to connect with people – you never know how they’re going to be a part of your life.”
– The Cherokee Office of Economic Development is the leading organization for business and film recruitment and industry retention and expansion. www.cherokeega.org.
The 2022 Cherokee Film Summit is an initiative of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and will be presented 5-9 p.m. Jan. 27 at the YANMAR EVO//Center. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite or by visiting cherokeega.org. For more information on the summit, email Film Project Manager Molly Mercer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 770.345.0600.