Gainesville Times: Friendship Elementary gets visit from film industry leaders

Friendship Elementary gets visit from film industry leaders

August 18, 2015 12:30 a.m.
A green wine bottle smashes into the back of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ head, and a room full of children burst into laughter. 

The bottle is a “sugar-glass” prop, used in movies. Collins and several film industry leaders visited Friendship Elementary School in South Hall County to show off a few props and discuss the wide variety of careers in the field. 

“Every person I see in here, every one of you, is an amazing, amazing person, because you have the capacity to think, to dream and to take yourself anywhere in the world,” Collins said to a room of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students. “...Your imagination takes you anywhere you want to go.” 

Collins was joined by Georgia-based Whit Norris, production sound mixer, who shared some tools including microphones and a digital clapper board. 

Lisa Reynolds, special effects foreman, shared different kinds of fake snow used on set and brought several tools used to make explosions, the sugar-glass bottle, a small bag of fake blood and rubber pieces of “glass” that can be used in an explosion. 

Actor Ric Reitz said he was about 11 years old, the same age as many fifth-graders at Friendship, when he began acting in plays with his father. He said he often had stage fright when he was young, but practice helped him overcome it. 

“It’s like if you dance or play ball, a sport, an instrument, anything,” he said. “When you practice doing it more and more, as you grow up you get better at it, at everything you do.” 

Reitz said he is also a writer and director, and all the skills he needs he began learning when he was in elementary school. 

“Don’t be afraid of trying something new at your age,” he said. 

Collins said the visit Monday came together as a result of work he’s doing with the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. 

“It’s a discussion of the fact that intellectual property matters and what people think has value,” he said. “When you look at piracy and other things we’re seeing in the industry right now, especially here in Georgia where the film and TV industry is really growing, we want to make people aware of what great jobs there are out there, while understanding as they go forward that this is what we’re protecting as well.” 

Information about casting and crew jobs can be found at 

The experts were joined by representatives from iKeepSafe, which creates Internet safety curriculum for teachers, and CreativeFuture, which advocates for creative industries. 

Marsali Hancock with iKeepSafe met with teachers Monday and gave them tools to teach their students about Internet safety. Ruth Vitale, executive director of CreativeFuture, said the visit was her first to an elementary school and she was thrilled with the students’ response and excitement. 

“Part of our belief is you have to instill in kids a respect for the industry, so they’ll make ethical choices when they go online,” she said. “...We believe in teaching kids the only thing that limits their ability to be in the business is their imagination, and we bring people like this in to show them you don’t have to be an actor or a pop star. There’s so much behind the scenes in movies too.”
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