Locals contributing to explosive growth in film and TV in Atlanta
Atlanta is affectionately known as the “Hollywood of the South” and there’s good reason for that nickname. If you’ve spent any time around the city of Atlanta, you’ve become acquainted with the ubiquitous yellow signs posted on street corners with mysterious abbreviations printed in large black lettering. You’ve probably heard about Tyler Perry purchasing the old GM plant in Doraville and his plans to build another mega movie studio. And most area residents have seen at least one of The Walking Dead around town.
Over 140 films and television shows have been shot in Atlanta since 2008, and production companies have spent around $1.7 billion on projects in 2015. From actors to directors, screen writers to special effects artists, Atlanta is full of individuals making the southern film scene possible. Check out some area residents helping to put the tinsel in the southern version of Tinsel Town.
Issaiah McCray – Actor and Model
Thirteen-year-old Issaiah has been modeling since the age of 5 and was previously a Wilhelmina Kid in Miami prior to his family’s move to Smyrna two years ago. He was recently on set shooting for the film “Madea’s Halloween” and was chosen to audition for Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me” biopic. Issaiah has been featured in international magazines such as “New Look” and “Terranova Italy,” and will be in the movie “The 5th Wave” scheduled for release in 2016.
Outside of acting, Issaiah is a Campbell Middle School honor roll student who loves football. He even received the award for Defensive MVP of the year for Campbell Middle School’s 8th grade football team for the 2015 season.
Chuck Thomas – Screenwriter
A writer since his college days, Chuck Thomas completed his first film script in 2006. The film, “Consumed,” was shot by Atlanta director Dustin Jacobs as his thesis. In the years since, Thomas has written for Tony Kaye (“American History X”), collaborated with Zombie Cat Productions, and produced a TV pilot that featured actors from “The Walking Dead,” “Constantine,” and “Halt & Catch Fire.” In 2014, Thomas, a longtime Smyran resident, started the Atlanta Film Chat podcast where directors, actors, producers, costumers, and more discuss their projects and life in the Atlanta film scene. Chuck has had notable features including “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “The Hunger Games.”
Guy D’Alema – Photographer
Long before Atlanta became the hottest filming location in the south, Guy D’Alema was photographing everyone in the entertainment industry. The Marietta resident began his career in 1981 and since then has photographed hundreds of celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Halle Berry, Andy Warhol, and James Brown, as well as Presidents Ronald Regan, George Bush, and Jimmy Carter. By 1990 D’Alema was firmly ensconced in both TV and film. He has photographed sets including “Vampire Diaries,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Duff,” “ATL,” and one of the newest shows to film in Atlanta, BET’s “Zoe Ever After.” Guy recently released his second coffee-table photo book “The Journey of the Red Umbrella.”
Rob Disner – Sound Engineer
Rob Disner began his career in Los Angeles, working in recording studios. His first job was as a sound engineer on Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album. He eventually made the transition to freelance engineering and then found himself doing audio work for both film and television. After a short break from the industry, Disner moved to Atlanta, where he found friendly crews and lots of work. Since then he has worked on shows including “The Walking Dead” and “The Great Christmas Light Fight” as well as several TV and film projects set for release this year.
Maryelle St. Clare – Jack of All Trades
Vinings resident, Maryelle St. Claire, began her stint in the film industry in 2014 after the devastating loss of both her brother and mother. She left corporate America and launched herself into the film industry. Unsure of the exact role she wanted to play in the business, she took every job offered, from photographer to production assistant to makeup artist. She then attended the Georgia Production Partnership’s PA Bootcamp where she officially learned the ropes by working as both crew and actress in more than 30 productions, including commercials and feature films. Maryelle loves working in the film industry in Atlanta and is having the time of her life.
In a relatively short time, the Atlanta television and film scene has grown exponentially, generating more than $6 billion in Georgia’s economy in 2015 alone. In 2016, the industry is expected to develop even more, guaranteeing Georgia a top spot on the list of ideal filming locations for years to come.