2018-01-11 / Front Page

Vibrant Communities grant will provide screen for spring movies on The Square

People in Wilkes County will have several opportunities this spring to watch free movies on The Square in Washington on a brand new screen with a powerful new sound system.

As the City of Washington continues its efforts of downtown revitalization with emphasis on the beautification and development of The Square as a community gathering place and focal point, the awarding of a Georgia Council of the Arts Vibrant Communities grant has provided the necessary funding for a “portable” movie screen and sound system to be used not only for entertainment but to heighten local citizens’ awareness of the growing film industry in Georgia and how it might be tapped to benefit Washington Wilkes.

The effort to secure the grant was spearheaded by Washington’s Main Street Director Elizabeth Elliott. Plans include the showing of at least five motion pictures every other Saturday in March and April. The movies will cover several genres and showcase the variety of films shot in the state of Georgia, illustrating differing production needs, film types, locations, audiences, and appeal.

“It will be a yearly event and will hopefully grow over the coming years, ultimately featuring other Georgia-made artistic products from music to medium-based arts,” Elliott said in her grant application. She estimated initial attendance to be around 200.

According to the application, the Georgia-Made Film Series will showcase major films that have been shot in the state to highlight the growing presence the film industry has in Georgia. Before each film, the Wilkes County Economic Development Director and Film-Ready Community contact will present and host a discussion regarding film in Georgia.

Topics to be covered might include what it means to be a camera ready community, educational opportunities for budding filmmakers, how to get involved with behind the scenes production, and how artistic talents such as costume and set design are utilized by film makers.

“We have shown films downtown before, and they were wonderful community events, attracting a healthy number of attendees,” Elliott said. “However, the events were missing a common thread and a programming element that utilized the open forum and audience size the screenings provided.” After the last event, the idea of the Georgia Made Film Series emerged and took shape.

“The goal of the Georgia Made Film Series is to make Washington and Wilkes County residents aware of the robust film industry in Georgia,” Elliott pointed out. “By making residents aware of the role film is playing in the greater Georgia economic and artistic economy, we hope to inspire our residents to become engaged with this active industry.

“Another goal we hope to advance is the role film can play in the future of Washington,” she continued. “On a weekly basis, the City and County are asked why Washington has not been approached as a shooting location. We explain that location is only one element scouts are looking for when selecting a site. Another major factor is the availability of individuals skilled in film production. We want to empower our residents to seek opportunities in this industry and provide them resources to successfully advance in an arts orientated career.”

A list of movies to be shown beginning on Saturday, March 3, is being developed and includes familiar, major films from a variety of studios. However, the final list of five movies will not be released until details have been worked out.

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