Hollywood has long been a part of the mix of responsibilities for Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism. But, if Maria Guerra- Stoll has her way, Georgia’s burgeoning film and television industry will find its way to Rome more frequently. And if they don’t, that’s okay because Guerra-Stoll has brought her own PAM Studios to Rome, buying a building in the 500 block of Broad Street and converting it to studio space.
“We chose Rome because of its charm, natural beauty, architecture, and of course, the people,” Maria said. “We want to empower the community and build relationships with surrounding businesses so that when we have a project going, we can share jobs and opportunities with everyone.”
Guerra-Stoll has created relationships with the Rome and Floyd County College and Career academies for training specializing in film/TV-related fields to prepare students for careers in the industry. “We will provide internships and jobs during each stage of film development,” she said.
Of particular interest to Guerra-Stoll is the chance to portray women, and minorities, particularly minority women, in a more realistic light. “Here at PAM Studios, we push to have women and Hispanic/Latino representation behind the camera. This is because so many gifted writers, directors, and overall Hispanic crew members are not being hired to tell Latino stories,” she said. “We also promote women in the industry so everyone has a voice and can all work together to create amazing creative projects.”
PAM Studios seeks to help Rome become a film destination with local talent both on and off camera. Rome and Floyd County residents can work with PAM Studios at every stage of production. That could be anything from hair, makeup, and wardrobe to film direction and post-production. “We also offer entry-level production assistance opportunities to anyone looking to start their career in film production,” Guerra-Stoll said.
Guerra-Stoll’s company will partner with the Rome International Film Festival to sponsor a Latinx Film Category for entries to the 2022 festival on November 10- 13. The partnership is one of the first to reflect the studio’s commitment to the Rome community and will inaugurate a multi-year partnership with the studio.
The studios have been busy since opening in Rome. Projects include: ‘In My Sights,’ a thriller film, ‘Celebrations with Nirjary Desai,’ a series showcasing event-planner Desai, and ’40 Akers & A Brew,’ a series that follows multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated Southern hip-hop icons Nappy Roots as they road trip to craft breweries across America. It won “Best Episodic Short” at last year’s festival.
Successful movies always create a certain level of tourism. Guerra-Stoll sees a chance to start tours for those interested in seeing where these projects were shot and where the stars once walked in Rome. “We are also discussing an opportunity with the City of Rome to install sidewalk stars (in front of the studios in the 500 block of Broad Street) to honor industry leaders that visit Rome,” Maria said. The idea is based loosely on the Hollywood Walk of Fame established by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Officials with the studio told Rome Public Works Committee representatives that one of the first stars might well be dedicated to honoring the late Summerville attorney Bobby Lee Cook. For those who might not know, the television series Matlock is supposed to have been inspired by Cook. The renowned attorney actually owned the building that PAM Studios purchased and renovated.
Another famous Roman who could be remembered with a star is the late Dan Biggers, who played Frank “Doc” Robb in the series Heat of the Night.” Also, Samuel L. Jackson has family ties to Rome.
Maria is an architect by trade and is Tyler Perry’s architect. “He started out just like me with a small sound stage on Krog Street. I saw what he did for his community and felt inspired,” Guerra-Stoll said. She believes in her heart that she can do the same for Georgia’s Latino community. “The film industry has a certain responsibility in the stories they tell. I intend to give everyone from all backgrounds the opportunity to tell their stories in front of and behind the camera,” Guerra-Stoll said.
For more information visit pam-studios.com.