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Film students collaborate with professionals on movie short

Film industry professionals and University of North Georgia students, graduates and faculty work on the film "Dead Winter" at a hobby farm in Clermont. Allison Hogue, a lecturer of film and digital media at UNG, decided to use pros and her UNG students and recent graduates on the short film to help students learn from the experts and make connections in the industry.

"Actress on set!" "Quiet please!" "Ok, let's try that again."

These phrases and many more could be heard on a small farm nestled in a wooded and hilly area of Clermont, Georgia, as University of North Georgia (UNG) students majoring in film and digital media worked alongside film industry professionals to create "Dead Winter."

The post-apocalyptic short film about a young girl struggling to see what would be gained if she left her Southern home is the brainchild of Allison Hogue, a lecturer of film and digital media at UNG. Instead of using an all-professional crew on her set, Hogue chose to divide the positions between pros and her UNG students and recent graduates.

"I was a film student once, and I remember how useful it was to make connections outside of the university," said Hogue, who has worked on shows such as "American Idol," "America's Got Talent" and "Project Runway." "To this day, those connections have proven helpful in securing jobs."

"Dead Winter" Director Jason Winn could not agree more.

"You get hired when people know your work," said Winn, a part-time instructor of film and digital media at UNG. "So you have to prove your worth before you get paid. That's why so many grads work for free in the beginning."

On the Clermont set, about 60 percent of the crew were UNG students, and they were soaking in the experience.

Jordan Hood, a senior who lives in Gainesville, accepted the role of assistant editor and digital imaging technician. His job is to handle the video footage and files, which has led him to use the experience as his capstone project.

"It's ultimately the biggest final exam ever of 'Can you make an actual film?'" the White County High School graduate said. "It's been really wonderful and nice to be tested."

"Dead Winter" was the fourth film set Lily Ojeda has worked on during her collegiate career. The 19-year-old sophomore who live in Mount Airy, Georgia, always comes prepared, wearing a small tool belt to store pens, small tools and especially a notepad.

"I always take notes," the Habersham Central High School graduate said. "I try and ask as many questions about 'what does this do' and 'what does that do' … because the best way to learn is to do it on set."

Winn and his fellow professionals marveled at the UNG students' ability to perform well in the controlled chaos of the movie set.

"I don't look at them as students," Winn said. "I look at them as peers."


University of North Georgia students, recent graduates and faculty crew the film "Dead Winter" with industry professionals. "Dead Winter" is the brainchild of Allison Hogue, a lecturer of film and digital media at UNG.

Hogue was glad to provide this kind of opportunity for her students, but it may not have happened without UNG President Bonita Jacobs bestowing a Presidential Incentive Award on the project. Hogue said she was intending to raise about $3,000 for the project, but needed to raise more.

The award allocated $5,000 to the project, making the total budget for the production $8,000.

"That put us in a solid place to make it and make it well," Hogue said, adding she was humbled and honored to receive the award. "The story and project are personal, but I wanted to use it to benefit my students, and it means a lot that we have the support of the university."

Since UNG launched the film and digital media program in fall 2015, more than 35 students have been awarded bachelor’s degrees in that discipline.

"Our program is designed to prepare students to work in the film and television industry, and opportunities such as these help open doors and develop new contacts in Georgia's exploding film industry," said Dr. Jeff Marker, head of the Department of Communication, Media and Journalism at UNG.


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