Film Certificates: The New Film School?

Despite concerns of a Hollywood boycott or the loss of state tax incentives, Georgia’s film scene keeps growing. Each day it seems more people are packing their cars and moving South to start or continue their careers in Atlanta. For those already active in the industry, their path may be more clear; but for those wanting to break into film, the road can be a bit bumpier. Some may suggest full-time film school. Others believe in the more hands-on approach of just getting on set – and working for free if need be. While both options have merit, a third option is starting to gain popularity in the Atlanta area: Film Certificates. Two of the most well-established certificate programs being Clayton State’s Film and Digital Media Certificate and the Georgia Film Academy Certification.

Georgia Film Academy Certification

Arguably the most well-know program is the Georgia Film Academy Certification. The Georgia Film Academy classes, “which are being offered through the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia, provide students with extensive hands-on experience. Students have an opportunity to network, build resumes, and market themselves in order to become integrated into the film industry as entry-level workers”. The GFA Program was designed to support the “workforce needs of the film and digital entertainment industries.” The following diagram outlines the courses offered by GFA – three class, each counting as 6 credits. All classes are required to receive the certification. The GFA certificate (18 hours) will cost $2,250.

Clayton State’s Film and Digital Media Certificate

Clayton State’s certificate program might be newer, but the curriculum is thorough and robust. For those looking to receive knowledge and training beyond entry-level, or perhaps are interested in the Independent Film industry in Georgia – Clayton State’s Film and Digital Media Certificate has a strong curriculum that includes more above-the-line training for writers, directors, and producers.

Clayton State sound stage

Clayton State’s curriculum is based on a part-time 10-month program with tracks for Writing, Production, and Post-Production. Students of all three tracks work together through out the program to create short films. So students are receiving both a certification and a portfolio at the end of the program. The total cost to complete one track is $1,996.


“You may choose one or more than one track at a time. To earn a certificate on any track, students must successfully complete the four courses of a respective track: Course I ($399/7 weeks); Workshop I ($399/7 weeks); Course II ($399/7 weeks) and Workshop II ($799/15 weeks). Please note that if you are taking more than one track in the program, Workshops I and II do not have to be repeated for each track. You will only need to take Workshop I and Workshop II once.”

There is certainly no guaranteed path to success in the film industry. So whether it’s receiving a film degree from a top school, earning a certificate from one of the programs mentioned above, or volunteering on sets or running your own set – you have to decide what makes the most sense for you based on your desired career path, preferred learning style, financial situation, and timeline.

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