Concentration Helps Dalton State Students Enter Film Industry

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - by Misty Wheeler, Dalton State College
Sawyer Locke lighting a scene
Sawyer Locke lighting a scene

The timing worked out perfectly for Sawyer Locke.  

After graduating from Northwest Whitfield High School in 2012, Mr. Locke joined the National Guard and went away to college. While away, his mother and sister were in a serious wreck that left his sister, who was 15 at the time, with a spinal injury and limited mobility.  

“I had to come home,” said Mr. Locke. “Dalton State College started offering the four-year communication degree, and I saw they had added a film studies concentration. That is what gave me the motivation to get back into school and apply myself. I knew what I wanted to do.”  

Mr. Locke spends one day a week at the Georgia Film Academy, located at the Pinewood Studios in Fayetteville, outside of Atlanta. There he studies the behind-the-scenes of the film industry including lighting, sets, producing, sound, and makeup. He has learned how to conduct himself on set and why there are so many credits following a movie.  

The partnership between Dalton State and Georgia Film Academy allows him to stay near family while still pursuing a career in the film industry. Students with the film studies concentration take 18 hours of courses at the Georgia Film Academy. The rest of their program is completed at Dalton State. 

Several television shows and movies are now being made in Georgia, including The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, The Hunger Games, and some Marvel productions. Students who major in communication with a concentration in film studies will have the opportunity to have a hand in such productions through internships granted by the Georgia Film Academy. 

“Internships could potentially lead to jobs, and it’s a networking game,” Mr. Locke said. “We’ll have the opportunity to get on a set and know how they do everything. I would love to work for Marvel or Disney. They’re my favorites. But I’d love to do almost anything. My sister and I have a dream to show people you can still do things, like travel, even if you’re in a wheelchair. We would love to do a show on that and end the stigma about people in wheelchairs.” 

By offering this concentration, Dalton State is addressing an immediate need in the job market in Georgia. 

“Today’s entertainment business is one that receives a great deal of attention in media venues locally, nationally, and globally,” said Dr. Pat Chute, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “For Dalton State students to be on the cutting edge of this growing industry is a remarkable opportunity for them as well as the entire North Georgia region.” 

“Communication is a broad, rigorous, and exciting discipline,” said Dr. Barbara Tucker, chair of the Department of Communication. “It encompasses everything from film and media studies and production to journalism and mass media, rhetorical and public speaking studies, business and organizational communication, public relations, social and new media, and interpersonal communication. Students who major in communication at DSC are exposed to all of these areas of the communication discipline to some extent but can focus specifically on business and corporate communication, social media (another big draw for the program), or film through the Georgia Film Academy.

“The goal of the bachelor of arts in communication program is to prepare students for entry level and higher positions in the professional workforce and to be ready for the challenges of graduate work if they so choose,” she said. “Internships, either with the Georgia Film Academy and with organizations in the Northwest Georgia region, are a key component of the major.”

For more information, contact Dr. Tucker at 

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