Like many people drawn to the film and television industry, Denise Godoy Gregarek felt the itch early.
“I always knew I wanted to work behind the scenes in the film industry,” says Denise, who graduated from the University of Texas with a major in radio, TV and film communications. Post-college, a move to Hawaii helped open the door to her dream. “I worked in Honolulu for Hilton Hotels, and part of my job was to help scout locations and solve problems. I was hooked.”
Today, 23 years later, Denise is a fixture of the Georgia film and television production industry as the unit publicist for “Stranger Things,” the popular Netflix series that premiered its third season this month.
An opportunity as a publicist at the TNT headquarters in Atlanta brought Denise from Hawaii to Georgia, and gave her a front-row seat to a lot of changes in the industry.
“When I started, the business was a difficult one for women, but fortunately I’ve seen a significant shift in the tolerance and opportunity for everyone in the culture,” says Denise, who describes the job of publicist as a behind-the-scenes translator or jungle guide for fans.
Denise has also been in the middle of the phenomenal growth of the industry in Georgia.
“It’s like a giant arrow pointing upward,” she says. “You can see how companies are deciding to be based here, not just move in temporarily for a production. You can see infrastructure like sound stages being built and local actors getting feature roles. It’s exciting to watch people who came here as transplants become rooted in the place and its culture.”
She attributes success in large part of the culture of Georgians taking care of each other. “When people ask me what’s on my highlight reel I always talk about the relationships I’ve made with filmmakers and crews, especially the gifted people behind the cameras who make the magic possible.”
Denise believes the future of the industry in Georgia is strong.
“There are wide choices in locations, well-trained crews and abundant studio space. Filmmakers like being here because they prefer having access to people who know what they’re doing. All that adds up to job security for the people who depend on the industry, and for the industry itself.”