Backlot Academy

Bringing ready-to-work in-house trained local hires to Shadowbox’s production clients.
Day-one ready.
The first studio-based, studio-run workforce development platform offering industry-led certifications for workforce-ready employees, and a direct pathway to entry-level on-set jobs.

Backlot Academy

Backlot Academy is Shadowbox Studios’ in-house workforce development platform that provides industry-led certifications and “Last Mile” training programs for individuals that seek an entry-level pathway to production work in large-scale film and television production. The skills-based program is designed to prepare entry-level crew with a full overview of the mechanics and workings of a large-scale production. Shadowbox Studios actively seeks to place Backlot Academy Certified Trainees in positions on productions at Shadowbox Studios.

Shadowbox works closely with community schools and organizations to identify program candidates with varied skills and backgrounds. Backlot Academy’s 150-hour “Last Mile” curriculum ensures production-ready skills, competencies, and on-set values.

We prioritize:

  • Punctuality
  • Collaboration
  • Safety
  • Clear Communication
  • Walkie operation
  • Lingo proficiency
  • Predisposition to problem-solving
  • Set Etiquette


“Shadowbox Backlot Academy is there to bridge that gap between what we learn in the classroom and working in the real world”

-Jabbar Thomas, Design and Media Technology Instructor, Georgia Piedmont Technical College

“Shadowbox Backlot Academy really drilled important skills into me and helped me get my first job on set, and helped me be ready for that job.”

-Landon Combs, Backlot Certified Trainee (Georgia State University)

“I was excited that someone really cared about us to bring us here to help us learn something.”

-Alexis Graham, Backlot Certified Trainee (Georgia Piedmont Technical College)

“I am ready to work…”

-Marjory McKinnon, Backlot Certified Trainee (Georgia Piedmont Technical College)

“…as close as we can get to real life experience for them [trainees]… we’re able to use the stages, we have walkies, we have equipment, and they are immersed into the industry without having had the opportunity to be in it yet.”

-David Champion, Shadowbox Backlot Academy instructor, Atlanta-based 1st Assistant Director


The training prepares you to succeed Day One as an On-Set Production Assistant.

The certification program is a 150-hour program that meets 2 evenings per week and one Saturday per week, for 11 weeks. Classes on the two weekdays are 3 hours in length (evenings) and 8 hours on Saturdays.

Instructors are working industry professionals. For the PA program, your Key Instructor will be an AD from the Production Department. You will also learn about the other departments from department heads that are active in the industry.

Classes are generally held at the studio in a production bungalow, with practical drills and exercises on one of our production stages. The locations of certain programs or classes may vary.

The career path of a PA can go in many different directions. It is a launching point that can set you in the direction of many different career goals in the entertainment industry. Technically, the On-Set PA operates in the Production Department under the Assistant Director (AD), but the position offers exposure to many different departments at work on a production, allowing for opportunities to move laterally within the bounds of union rules.

Backlot Academy was created to create job pathways to entry-level work on productions in support the local community surrounding Shadowbox Studios. We work closely with community partners to source qualified candidates. Enrollment requires a referral from a recognized community-based mentor, either from a school or from the industry in which you work (or have prior worked). You do not need to be in a film or media program. There are a wide variety of critical skills required and many of these skills may come from other unrelated programs.  If you are interested in inquiring about the program, you can email

Shadowbox Backlot Academy will issue an industry-led certification to successful completers.

Once you have completed the program and demonstrated proficiency in the required skills assessments, a certification card from Shadowbox Backlot Academy will be issued and you will be invited to become a member of the Backlot Talent Roster. Shadowbox will seek to place members of its Backlot Talent Roster in available positions on productions at Shadowbox Studios.

No. Shadowbox Studios is a facility that rents space and provides services to premium content creators such as Netflix, Paramount, Disney, Sony, just to name a few. These are our clients. Shadowbox Backlot Academy is an in-house training unit that prepares and facilitates introductions to our clients, who are the eventual employers in the event of a hire.

Yes, this is a very practical way to begin your journey into the world of filmmaking. Working as a PA, understanding the machinations at work on a large-scale set, and simply being around professionals working at the top of the trade is an outstanding entry point for any aspiring filmmaker as well as dozens of other positions.


Proud to partner with the DeKalb County workforce development community including Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Agnes Scott College, DeKalb County School District, Partnership for Community Action, DeKalb Entertainment Commission.

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