Your Local Film and Video News Resource
WIFTA 2008 Kickoff Event

By Jay Blodgett

Photos by Pamela Cole©2008

January 23, 2008 (ATLANTA, GA) — The Atlanta Chapter of Women in Film and Television (WIFTA) kicked off their 34th year with a "State of the Industry Address" and panel at the CINEVISION screening room in Atlanta, Georgia. WIFTI Liaison, Sherry Richardson, introduced the newly elected President of WIFTA, Melissa Randle. Randle then proceeded to announce the new 2008 Board of Directors of WIFTA:

  • Melissa Randle - President
  • Widdi Turner - VP of Professional Development
  • Samantha Worthen - VP Membership
  • Elisabeth Andre - VP of Communications
  • Dana Serby - Treasurer
  • Shani Harris Peterson - Secretary
  • Kay Hallahan - Member Emeritus
  • Michell Davis - Member at Large
  • Julie Shaer - Sponsorship Director
  • Eugenia Harvey - Workshops Director
  • Xhosa Bates - Programs Director
  • Kiip Seward - Jobs & Opps Director
  • Tonette Underwood - Public Relationsh Director
  • Sherry Richard - WIFTI Liaison

Randle declared that 2008 was the "Year of the Member" and that the organization was dedicated to reach out with the tools and opportunities for its membership's needs. Randle said that WIFTA would reinstate past programs such as the roundtables, and begin to provide discounts on goods and services from selected sponsors. She added that WIFTA's website was also undergoing a renovation and that it's professional directory would allow networking opportunities with members of the organization's international membership.

Randle then introduced the evening's panel (see photo at top, R-L): Craig Dominey, from the Georgia Film and Television Office; Fran Burst Terranella, from Georgia Production Partnership; Shay Griffin, Casting Director and member of the Governor's Film Commission; Roger Bobb, Producer, Tyler Perry Studios; and Rob Hardy, director and producer with Rainforest Films. After some opening remarks regarding each panelist's position within the Georgia media community, Randle began a roundtable discussion about the state of Georgia's film and television industry as 2008 begins and what might be expected as the year unfolds.

Much of the discussion centered around tax incentives. The panel agreed that although Georgia has a demonstrated film production infrastructure that surpasses most of the nation, the state itself lags behind in state-sponsored incentives. Griffin was optimistic about a bill that is in development that will put Georgia "in the best place I've ever seen to be prepared for a big year."

Discussing plans for 2008, Roger Bobb mentioned several productions that are in the pipeline for Tyler Perry Studios. Bobb said that Perry had scripts completed and ready for production before the WGA strike occurred and therefore the studio was not affected. Rob Hardy said he would be "working feverishly to have something on tap here," though Rainforest Films will be involved with California-based producing.

Randle then turned to the audience for a Q&A. When asked, "How can anybody be against the film industry in Georgia?", Hardy replied how hard it is to quantify the dollars productions make for the state, in terms of the associated business, such as crews, housing, etc.

Shay Griffin also said that once the concept of tax incentives are introduced into the discussion, you are then talking about taxpayer dollars, which lends itself to a different sensibility. She agreed with Hardy that there was a need to quantify into dollars and cents all the profits and benefits that productions provide to the state's economy, which is a major statistical undertaking. She also added that "Georgia has the second oldest chapter of WIFTA, which is a sign of the state's determination" and commitment to film production. She was unable to discuss the details of the proposed bill regarding tax incentives, but said, "If the bill passes as written, it will open up flood gates!"

In closing, Bobb said, "Stay positive. Good thngs will happen!" Griffin added that extraordinary people choose to be in this industry and "we mean to play at the top!"

More information about up coming events and the organization itself can be found at: