By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
June 7, 2018

“We will have a local, vibrant community that will have well-paying jobs, and we’re going to have to grow our own,” Tytan CEO Jim Stone told Eatonton Kiwanis members recently.

Disclosing plans for his company, Tytan Pictures, the local film producer introduced a component called the GEAR program.

An acronym for Georgia Entertainment and Arts Readiness, the program would be a non-profit edu­cational endeavor targeted toward high school freshman as well as offering an adult portion that would offer a 9-month curriculum.

“That’s three, three-month intensive sessions,” Stone said.

His goal is also to provide scholarships so that it’s free for families with incomes less than $40,000.

“If Yale can do it, we can do it,” he noted.

Currently in the begin­ning stages, Tytan officials have been working with nonprofits and looking for funding sources in the Atlanta area.

“The state of Georgia has something called the Georgia Film Alliance that the governor started, which is fantastic,” Stone said. “One problem: it only works in colleges and vocation schools.”

That means a lot of the local youth have to leave the area to go to college for those opportunities and, much of the time, do not return.

Stone explained that GEAR would provide a three-year course study for the high school students where they would learn how to navigate the film industry.

The program would expose the students to several different compo­nents to moviemaking, including operations in the camera, lighting and grip departments, as well as scriptwriting and market­ing.

Stone noted he wanted to open the program up to adults as well because of the experience he’s had working with the local neighborhood around Tytan Studios’ prison lot.

“There are really great folks over there who have just not had opportunity,” said Stone. “And without opportunity, there is no hope.”

The film industry is unique in the fact that pro­ducers can employ people who are somewhat unem­ployable in other areas.

“Our industry is about showing up with a good attitude,” he noted. “It doesn’t care what school you went to; it doesn’t care about the color of your skin; and it doesn’t care about all the other social things that a lot of us get concerned about.”

Putnam County Charter School System Superinten­dent Eric Arena advised Stone that if the GEAR program were something he was passionate about, school officials would be willing to discuss how they might partner to facilitate that with state officials.

Stone welcomed the opportunity to work with the public school system, noting his group already teaches a television and film program at Gatewood Schools.

“It’s hard to raise money for private schools,” said Stone, “but they would give money to something like this, where I could get those kids in the bricks (public housing) and those kids will have a chance, and some of your kids will have a chance, to be in that program.”