OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Film & Television Academy has built one of the largest film schools in the country for below-the-line production crew members. As a result of Oklahoma’s booming film industry, a pair of collaborations have emerged to help fill the gap in the industry’s workforce.

Oklahoma-based nonprofit MetaFund has supplied low-interest flexible financing in support of the Oklahoma Film & Television Academy’s parent company, Green Pastures Studio, as they work to build a sustainable workforce in Oklahoma and not only produce high-quality and industry-standard content, but also to serve the community. The funds have helped Green Pastures Studio provide the much-needed Hollywood-grade training facility that is now being used by Work Ready Oklahoma participants. Work Ready Oklahoma, a workforce collaborative, is working to ensure a well-trained workforce for the state’s growing film industry.

Work Ready Oklahoma empowers financially vulnerable Oklahomans to achieve self-sufficiency. Applying a holistic approach, the program focuses on skills assessment and job fit, work readiness workshops, career coaching, barrier removal and the employment partnerships needed to get people quality jobs that grow into a sustainable career. It has assisted nearly 500 Oklahomans this year and helped place more than 150 individuals into jobs paying above $16/hour, plus benefits.

“The film industry brought more than 11,000 jobs to Oklahoma in 2021,” said Sandino Thompson, vice president at Public Strategies, which oversees Work Ready Oklahoma. “We want film crews coming out of state to hire Oklahomans. There’s demand for a trained workforce to supply the talent pipeline and ensure this emerging industry thrives, and Work Ready Oklahoma is equipping individuals with the right skills to make this happen.”

November marks the first time Work Ready Oklahoma participants have attended a Set Ready course with 18 participants completing the course and more planned in 2023. The four-day workshop at Green Pastures Studio teaches students the hard and soft skills needed to become a production assistant in the film industry. Participants learn everything from how to fill out a timecard, read a call sheet, communicate effectively with on-set walkie-talkies, navigate dealing with an upset director to networking for their next job in TV and film.

Green Pastures Studio, owned by Melodie Garneau, Richard Janes and Amy Janes, is the parent company of the Oklahoma Film & Television Academy. They offer the Set Ready course monthly at their facility in Spencer to students from across Oklahoma. They opened the course two years ago and have since graduated more than 550 students. Many have found jobs both in and out of state on a variety of film productions such as Killers of the Flower Moon, 1883 and the new Sylvester Stallone series Tulsa King, which was filmed in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

“It has been an absolute gift to be able to support the growing film industry in Oklahoma by providing the infrastructure necessary, while training a workforce that is every bit as capable as those in larger markets. We have witnessed our students’ dreams come true as they step on a film set and work their way up the ranks to engage in high paying jobs,” Amy Janes said.

MetaFund works with nonprofits, the private sector and government to combat poverty by investing in creative solutions for communities including a focus on quality jobs.

“Workforce development is a top priority in Oklahoma, and we applaud public-private partners working together on behalf of the community,” said Ed Long, chief impact officer for MetaFund.

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