I don’t live in Atlanta (never have, although I’ve visited 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years or so), and I actually don’t know a lot of people there – no one that I’d consider a close friend, no family (that I know of), so I definitely won’t claim to know what the arts scene is like over there – especially when it comes to cinema.
I’ll leave all the debate for all you artists who do live there, or are very familiar with the area and its arts scene.
I caught this piece on the Access Atlanta website this afternoon, and since it’s a slow news day, I thought I’d mention it. But it also inspired some further questions in me that I’ll share as well.
First here’s most of the Access Atlanta piece:
Actress and director Jasmine Guy took the arts community to task on
several fronts at the annual Women in the Arts panel luncheon sponsored
by Synchronicity Theatre at theGeorgian Terrace Wednesday. A last minute
panel replacement for casting director Alpha Tyler, who was unable to
attend, Guy said she moved to Atlanta four years ago but has grown
discouraged by the dearth of work she has found here. “My mission is to
leave Atlanta so I can find work,” she said, half in jest. Guy, who has
directed and performed in productions for Theatrical Outfit and True
Colors Theatre, complained about attending fundraisers so lavish that
their budgets could have paid for staging multiple productions. And she
expressed frustration with fans who ask her why she doesn’t take her
plays on tour – the answer is money, of course – and she encouraged arts
patrons to become more knowledgeable about how the business of arts
works. “Maybe it’s because I’m black, but everybody always asks me, ‘Why
don’t you work with Tyler Perry?’ “Well, I live in Atlanta. Tyler Perry
knows where he can find me.” She went on to hold Tyler Perry up as an
example of someone who has helped change the business model for arts
funding. He started out staging plays that were so profitable, he was
able to take them on tour, she said. And the tours were so profitable,
he was able to turn them in to movies, which he in turn sold to
Hollywood.“ He didn’t go to Hollywood asking for money to make his
movies,” she said. And finally, she said, if Atlanta wants to be a city
of world-class culture, it needs to act like one. “Y’all need to quit
asking me to work for free,” she said.
I admit I chuckled at some of what she said. I can certainly sense her frustrations, although I guess I’ve never thought of Atlanta as a place to go to build a career, if you’re an actress, or filmmaker, especially. Then again, as I said, I’m not fully qualified to speak on what Atlanta has to offer those who work in those fields.
I’ve lived in New York, LA, and San Francisco since leaving college, when I started chasing my own professional career in the arts. It never once occurred to me to consider Atlanta as a place to go as a filmmaker trying to break in. LA and New York seemed like where much of the magic was happening, and where I felt I’d find like-minded artists.
In the end, I didn’t care for LA much, and San Francisco got a bit boring for me, so I moved to New York and have been here for 10 years, and don’t anticipate moving elsewhere anytime soon.
So, like I said, Jasmine Guy’s lament got me thinking further; specifically, I’d like to know where all of you folks are living and working – especially if you’re in the arts. And since this is primarily a film blog, we’ll focus even narrower and say, if you’re a filmmaker, actor, writer, editor, DP, etc… or if you’re in theatre or TV. Where do you guys live? What cities (I don’t need your full addresses)? And, most importantly, are you thriving wherever you are? Are you finding whatever it is you feel you need to succeed at your craft, in your city? And if not, what’s keeping you in your city if you can’t relocate?
I’ve always believed that if you want to work in the arts – especially cinema and TV – you’d need to be in either New York or LA. Theatre is obviously everywhere, although just about every stage actor I know is hoping to one day end up in a Broadway show. And to do that, you’d need to be in New York.
So, a random survey. But also, if you want to defend ATL, in response to what Jasmine Guy said about the city, feel free to do that as well.