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Film MFA students work on first Athena Studios feature

Alan Flurry

American Deadbolt, the first feature-length film shot at Athena Studios in Athens, wrapped in late July after receiving a waiver from the Screen Actors Guild giving permission for its actors to cross the picket line – and a helping hand from students and graduates of the UGA Master of Fine Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media. Flagpole shares the story:

After casting, hiring a crew and making other preparations with the possibility of a SAG strike looming, the work stoppage started on the first day of filming. As an independent production not affiliated with a studio, American Deadbolt initially received a waiver so that SAG members could work without jeopardizing their pensions and health care. But it was rescinded when SAG changed the rules, and the shoot was shut down while Hines worked behind the scenes to obtain a new waiver. 

The production had already lost several days of filming when it restarted. Then, on July 20, what the cast and crew termed a “tornado”—more likely straight-line winds, according to meteorologists—knocked out power at Athena Studios and all over the city for days. The production was able to acquire a generator and continue on, but in the end had just six days to shoot instead of the expected 10–15.


The strike may have been a blessing in disguise for American Deadbolt. As one of just 39 productions sanctioned to move forward during the strike, it was mentioned in all the Hollywood trade publications. In addition, “without other productions in the pipeline, hopefully we can fill a void,” Redding said. The movie is currently in post-production, and Hines said he’s trying to get it accepted for a premier at a major film festival. 

While obviously everyone involved is hoping the film is successful, it also serves a greater purpose—to put Athens on the map as a film town and draw attention to the talent already residing here, from longtime filmmakers like Redding, Hines and Ross to UGA students like Nicole Jasmin Toren, who worked in the art department, and Eli Saliba, a cameraman and UGA MFA graduate. 

Read the entire article. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for pulling off such a feat. While many film shoots are certainly unique in their own way, American Deadbolt provided an even rich experience for our students amid the industry (and weather) vicissitudes unlike most others. As film production solidifies a home in Athens, students and faculty of the Film MFA will be an important part of the action.



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