Georgia’s film and TV production industry is the benefactor of a Georgia Tech math student’s epiphany that he really didn’t like doing calculus after all.
“When I realized I needed a new direction, I thought about what I loved to do,” says Ben Lambeth, co-owner of Cinder Lighting & Grip. “I turned to a hobby of mine –– filmmaking.”
So long math department, hello business major.
Active in the film club at Georgia Tech, Ben met Gabe Pippas, an engineering major also drifting toward film. They owned their own equipment to do their film projects, but discovered people wanted to rent it for their own work.
“That was our first step to becoming a business,” says Ben. “We worked for six months before we came up with the name Cinder. Our clients were those we met at Tech and friends we made as freelancers. Along the way we also met a lot of producers who needed our equipment.”
“Within a few months they were bringing on a staff to help with the workload, and rented a warehouse to store their expanding inventory”
By 2014, the industry starting to take off in Georgia, and the company grew as well. It now has 10 employees and has supplied equipment for television series like “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” “Your Worst Nightmare” and “Dead Silent.” The bulk of the company’s rentals are for commercials and music videos.
Although most productions are months or years in the planning, a producer’s need for extra equipment can pop up overnight. “We’re very used to day-before or day-of orders,” says Ben. “We react as we go.”
The growth of the industry has been a big boost to Ben and Gabe.
“While we’re in competition with everyone else renting lighting equipment, the market is big enough to support many companies,” Ben says. “Everyone is growing and there’s plenty of work to go around.”
Although the movie and television production is spread across the state, most of the major suppliers of equipment are concentrated in Metro Atlanta. Because Cinder will pack all the equipment in a truck and let the production crews drive it to their own locations, statewide distribution is simplified.
Ben and Gabe have kept up their own work as independent filmmakers and share a keen drive to help other independents by providing affordable ways to rent equipment.
“We want to encourage more locally produced content,” Ben says. “We want to encourage more Georgia-based production, not just filming.”
This story is presented in cooperation with the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance.