Prelude

It’s early May, Commencement is days away, and Atlanta is awash in bright, young green, with splashes of blooming color. So it’s a little weird that a house on my street is all decked out for Christmas.

Turns out they’re shooting a movie there—the sequel to Bad Moms, presumably titled Bad Moms Christmas. Some of my neighbors are complaining because the road is lined with orange cones, production trucks, catering vans, uniformed officers, and crew members drinking coffee, and at certain hours they close the street altogether, which is admittedly kind of a pain. When they made the Goosebumps movie a few houses down, all the big shoots were overnight, and they used lights so bright that three in the morning was like noon for the entire street. A resident nearby kept posting to our community forum, “Who in god’s name approved this?” until I finally responded that film production companies don’t actually have to get approval from the neighborhood before they turn the whole area into a studio set. 

But I don’t mind; it’s exciting. When I walk the dog past the Bad Moms house—which of course I do every day, totally on purpose—I don’t even try to pretend that I’m not looking, trying to catch a glimpse of stars Mila Kunis or Kathryn Hahn. The crew members don’t bat an eye, and they always stop to pet the dog, although they have yet to offer her a bit part as an extra like I keep hoping they will.

Watching this production in action has been especially enjoyable because it coincides with our feature story on the entertainment industry boom in Georgia and how it is benefiting Emory students and alumni, Atlanta, and the state. Thanks to a tax-credit program that was masterminded by Stephen Weizenecker 80Ox 90C, Atlantans are growing increasingly accustomed to moviemaking in our midst, and that means more opportunities for the university’s graduates. The Department of Film and Media Studies is reinventing itself to offer education in film production as well as theory and criticism. A number of major shoots have taken place on Emory’s campuses, which boosts both visibility and revenue for the university. And alumni who want to work in the business are finding that they no longer have to move to L.A. or New York to get jobs.

That’s all great news, for Emory and for Atlanta. Not so good for our city is its position as a hub for human trafficking, largely due to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest in the world. In this magazine, we also explore how Emory community members are chipping away at the problem from all angles—through research and scholarship, activism and advocacy. Emory students come to us from around the country and the world, and after Commencement, they scatter again. But for the university, Atlanta is where we live, and the positive connections continue to multiply and grow stronger.

Just for the record, as a proud graduate of Emory’s Film Studies program, I don’t expect Bad Moms Christmas to earn critical acclaim or make it onto a course syllabus. But who knows what new opportunities it might create? I’m still glad it’s being made in Emory’s hometown.—Paige Parvin 96G

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