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Creative Oklahoma & Maverick Arts Partner With nearly 30 Film Professionals, Jesse James Films and OK Film & Music Office to Expose 30,000 Oklahoma Students to Career Opportunities in Film & TV


OKLAHOMA CITY (January 22, 2021) — More than 30,000 middle and highschool students across the state will for the first time be treated to an inside view of the careers they can have in the growing Oklahoma film and TV industry through a collaborative endeavor with Junior Achievement (JA), Creative Oklahoma (COK), Maverick Arts, the Oklahoma Film & Music Office (OFMO) and nearly 30 industry professionals.

The effort incorporates the presentation of 20 short films featuring filmmakers and production talent across the industry talking about their work as part of the JA Inspire new virtual career exploration platform that will be debuted to students in a live virtual event which will launch January 28th, and then remain available for student exploration through the end of April 2021.  https://jainspireok.vfairs.com/en/#about 

“Upon learning that the arts have rarely been represented among the numerous corporations and industries participating in the Oklahoma Junior Achievement event, I knew there was a great opportunity to give our kids an exciting inside view of the careers that await them in film and television,” said Oklahoma City artist, voice talent and culture activist Nicole Poole, head of Maverick Arts. “I reached out to JA and they were very enthusiastic about including this opportunity as part of JA Inspire 2021 so I set out to pull this together in an extremely quick timeframe.”

Poole said the response by the local film and television industry has been “over the top,” with 22 highly regarded professionals agreeing to produce interview videos showing students all the opportunities that exist in today’s industry, both in Oklahoma as well as elsewhere.  Another eight state film industry and cultural leaders contributed their insights on a “Zoom” recorded panel discussing the accelerating growth of opportunities for film careers in Oklahoma.

In FY2020, the film industry had 818 production days by professional film crews and more than 4,200 Oklahomans were hired in a wide variety of industry-related skill areas, according to the OFMO. “Oklahoma had a 955% increase in industry expenditures here since 2012,” said Tava Sofsky, OFMO’s executive director. “I see no sign of that changing going forward, which means that we need a workforce pipeline if we are going to continue to grow this industry. This is a viable and highly rewarding career opportunity and we want our Oklahoma students to get an inside view of an industry they can succeed in right here in their home state.” More information, including current opportunities in Film & TV can be found at OFMO’s website, https://okfilmmusic.org/gettingstarted.

The career exploration videos to be offered include those on careers in acting, special effects, production accounting, screenwriting, makeup artistry, casting, production management, grip, gaffer, costume design, vocal, production sound mixing, producing, directing, cinematography, music composition, and art development and direction. All will feature Oklahoma industry professionals, many of whose careers have taken them across the country but who have come back to Oklahoma and are still pursuing their dream from the Sooner State.

Poole and Rep. Meloyde Blancett, Executive Director of the nonprofit Creative Oklahoma, said this will be the first of many new endeavors designed to highlight hundreds of creative career paths in a wide variety of arts and innovation-centric fields. According to Blancett, “We know that broad opportunities in the creative industries, and creative opportunities in numerous other traditional industries, exist. If Oklahoma wants a robust, diverse economy, we must further one that supports and encourages creativity and innovation.  Exposing the state’s middle and high-school aged students to film and TV careers through the JA Inspire event is an important component in achieving that.” 

Film & TV professionals featured in the career films to be offered include:

  • Michael Andreaus, actor
  • Tory Ayres-Costello, production accountant
  • Ryan Bellgardt, special effects
  • Meloyde Blancett, Oklahoma State Representative & Executive Director, Creative Oklahoma
  • Jacob Burns, editor
  • Rachel Cannon, co-founder & co-CEO, Prairie Surf Media
  • Laron Chapman, screenwriter
  • Shelly D’Apolito, makeup
  • Reagan Elkins, locations manager
  • Mollie Fabian, actress
  • Chris Freihofer, casting director
  • Nathan Gardocki, unit production manager
  • A.J. Gundell, music supervisor
  • Ella Janes, director 
  • Richard Janes, co-creator, Oklahoma Film & Television Academy
  • Brandon Jones, key grip
  • Jennifer Loren, Executive Director, Cherokee Nation Film Office
  • Steve Mathis, gaffer
  • Jack O’Dell, costume designer
  • Nicole Poole, artist & cultural activist
  • Grant Provence, production sound mixer
  • Kyle Roberts, director
  • Jaime Roman, producer
  • Jon Roman, Cinematographer
  • Jay Shanker, Entertainment Attorney
  • Tava Sofsky, Director, Oklahoma Film & Music Office
  • Jerod Tate, composer
  • Colin Warde, art department

To explore the Creative Careers Film & Television materials, register with Junior Achievement at  https://jainspireok.vfairs.com/en/#about or visit the Creative Careers YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_kQybztBH-uGriZafD8mxQ/featured 

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ABOUT CREATIVE OKLAHOMA

Creative Oklahoma is a statewide non-profit organization advancing Oklahoma’s economy through programs, projects and collaborative ventures that help develop a more entrepreneurial, innovation-based economy and an improved quality of life for all Oklahomans. Its mission is to develop, promote and celebrate Oklahoma’s creative solutions and innovative thinking  in education, commerce and culture.  Creative Oklahoma serves as a fiscal sponsor channeling underwriting support to the Creative Careers Oklahoma Project.  For more information, please visit www.creativeoklahoma.org

ABOUT MAVERICK ARTS & CREATIVE CAREERS OKLAHOMA

Maverick Arts is a creative catalyst for innovative collaboration between arts and industry to elevate cultural dialogue and experiences. The Creative Careers Oklahoma Project aims to increase awareness for career paths in the Arts & Culture sector.

ABOUT OKLAHOMA FILM AND MUSIC OFFICE

The Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO) is dedicated to growing the film and music industries statewide.  In doing so, it strives to support and connect local, national and international filmmakers with Oklahoma’s skilled crew, talent, production services and diverse locations which span across 12 eco-regions. OF+MO also promotes and showcases Oklahoma’s rich musical heritage and connects emerging artists of all genres to music venues and businesses across the state and the country. 

ABOUT JESSE JAMES FILMS

Jesse James Films is a Los Angeles film and television production company focused on bringing engaging intellectual property to the screen, with an emphasis on diversity driven content.  James Sears Bryant, who co-founded JJF with film executive Jesse Murphy, is an attorney and businessman who is also co-founder of Oklahoma City headquartered National Litigation Law Group.  More about Jesse James Films at:  https://www.jessejamesfilms.com/about  

ABOUT JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT’S JA INSPIRE EVENT

Junior Achievement (JA) of Oklahoma’s Inspire Virtual program is a powerful, interactive experience for thousands of eighth-grade students. It enables them to virtually interact with local business professionals and explore different types of careers. This experience empowers and informs their high school class selections and prepares them for life after high school graduation.

JA Inspire Virtual allows Oklahoma companies to come together to represent careers for students to explore and see the connection to their future. Businesses can recruit and grow the future workforce. This promotes a stronger Oklahoma economy. For more information, please visit https://jainspireok.vfairs.com/en/#about 


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