Hitting Pause: Jason Benton

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

“I’ve kept all my employees on our payroll during the shutdown so now that things are opening back up, we started working again this week. We’ve been doing work like painting and roofing for folks who work in the film industry. We’re also doing equipment maintenance, so we’ll be ready to jump back in once filming returns. On a personal note, I got accepted into Notre Dame’s MBA program and I’m taking a preparatory math class right now. I’m keeping busy!” — Jason Benton, owner of Great Dane Production Services in Tucker

Hitting Pause: Darrius Tucker

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

“I’ve been helping my younger sister with remote-learning film class, doing grocery runs for my grandmother and trying to use this time writing.” — Darrius Tucker, assistant location manager, McDonough

Hitting Pause: Charity Cervantes

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

Charity Cervantes is an Atlanta-based actress that has appeared in a number of Georgia productions, including “Insatiable,” “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings,” and “Robbie,” which premieres on Comedy Central tonight.

“My boyfriend and I bought a new house, and we’ve been using this down time to get settled in our new home. We’re excited to meet the neighbors in Intown Atlanta. It’s been a great time to explore our new neighborhood — from a distance, of course!”

Hitting Pause: Erika Doss

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

“For all you Crew Moms out there: I FEEL YOU! Can’t wait be out there in the creative world again! While I’m trying to remember 6th grade math and failing, Oliver (age 12) keeps reminding me that the teachers don’t sit with them in frustration and that he knows what to do …” — Erika Doss, set photographer, Marietta

At the start of this quarantine my son and I were still trying to find out how online school was going to work! While I’m trying to remember 6th grade Math and failing, Oliver (12) keeps reminding me that the teachers don’t sit with them in frustration and that he knows what to do …

Around Easter the weather here in Georgia started to look and feel very much like Spring and my trees in the yard looked so pretty! I couldn’t help but to take a Family Portrait with a twist: No one needs to dress up for it … and so we did it “Quarantine Style!”


Hitting Pause: Danielle Rusk

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

“During this break in filming, I’m spending my free time helping animals. I’ve groomed horses, rescued a pigeon, and spent lots of quality time with my dog.” – Danielle Rusk, Key Assistant Location Manager from Athens, GA

Hitting Pause: Erika Crawford Gordon

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic.

Erika Crawford Gordon, a nurse who has worked on numerous productions as an on-set baby nurse, is working full-time on the trauma team at North Fulton Hospital in Roswell. “I guess I’m not really paused — I’m working at the hospital full-time in the OR now,” says Erika. “I hope to be back on the set soon, when the time is right.”

Hitting Pause: Taylor Vickers

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic. 

“We converted a part of our basement into a sewing area and I’ve been producing masks for people that need them. We’ve handed them out to people in our community including flight attendants who are still working and some film folks in the Locations community that need them because of trips to clinics and medical centers.”

—Taylor Vickers, location scout for the film industry and a resident of Cumming

Hitting Pause: Mike Morris

Georgians who work in the film/TV industry at home during the pandemic. 

“We are launching an online film festival for our students. We were in the process of filming multiple short films, and we’re finishing those the best we can. We want to share what this current situation is like for them. I’m also trying to figure out how to direct films virtually, so I can continue my own work on feature films.

“At home, I’ve planted a garden bed and painted a wall so my daughter Ziona has a self-tape space to use for auditions. We’ve brought the studio home.”

— Mike Morris, visual storytelling teacher at Utopian Academy for the Arts in Clayton County.

Entrepreneur puts ideas to work in GA film, TV production after job contract ends

When one door closes, another opens.

That’s the lesson Yvonne Lawson learned, and the path that led her to opportunities in Georgia’s film and television production industry.

Zen Rising

Yvonne spent 30 years working as the chief of staff in a career that catered to high profile clients. She traveled the world working with everyone from A-list celebrities to royal families.  As the main point of contact for her clients, she spent her career managing everything from bodyguards and personal chefs to maids and yoga instructors.

When her last contract ended, Yvonne needed a new plan.

“I was at the pinnacle of my career when it fell flat. Moving to the film industry was a natural next step for me,” says Yvonne.

Yvonne wanted a way to incorporate her 30 years of experience, and also take advantage of all the opportunities available to her in her new home, Atlanta. While working as a private chef for a popular celebrity, the idea for Zen Rising Enterprises came to her. In her observations, it was exactly what the film industry was missing.

Zen Rising Enterprises, a luxury accommodation and boutique style concierge service, is a combination of Yvonne’s years of expertise and observation of what she felt was missing in the film and TV production industry. Much as she did in her previous career, Yvonne and her team handle production needs such as securing luxury accommodation for “A” list clients, hiring security guards, chauffeurs, personal chefs, household staff, personal trainers, event planning, and making reservations.

Zen Rising Enterprises also covers private estates available for rent to the movie productions.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to build a new career right here in Georgia,” says Yvonne.

For water scenes, TV and film productions call the pool guy

A single drop of water can contain millions of microbes. Most don’t bother humans, but some can be harmful. TV and film productions who shoot water scenes proceed with extra caution.

Dewey Wright, co-owner of Aquatic Environments, takes sanitation of water seriously and uses his decades of experience in the pool and spa business to ensure the safety of actors and crew members who film in water.

The film industry has been a great opportunity for Dewey’s company. He and his team have worked on more than 70 productions since 2010.

“The Georgia film industry has been a great revenue stream for our business,” says Dewey. “We’ve added almost 20 percent to our bottom line. The film work is demanding and challenging and so we’re able to increase our profit margin on those projects.”

Aquatic Environments, a family-owned Jonesboro company started in 1984, got its start in the film business from a former client who was the special effects coordinator on the horror film “The Crazies.” Dewey fixed a pool that wouldn’t hold water and brought in temporary equipment for the shoot.

After that first production came “The Vampire Diaries” during filming in a watery cave system. Dewey helped rig equipment around the underground rivers and stalactites and ensured the water was warm and balanced so the crew wouldn’t get cold and sick. For another scene, Dewey figured out a way to get fake blood in a hot tub that looked real and was sanitary.

The extra work from the film industry has helped create more hours for Aquatic Environment’s employees. The company has increased its workforce, many of them highly skilled technicians to clean and repair equipment. Dewey also brings in vendors to supply specialized equipment and products like large heaters from Atlanta Boiler and special chemicals from Momar, a chemical manufacturer.

And the work doesn’t stop at the productions. Aquatic Environments is getting more clients for its pool work from people working in the film industry who have moved to Atlanta and purchased homes with pools. Dewey’s teams maintain many high-end pools used in productions or rented to people in the industry. Its clientele has grown from 250 weekly customers to 400.

“We thoroughly enjoy working with the amazing special effects people,” says Dewey. “This work is interesting. It’s fun. And it’s profitable.”