By John Rokosz
What is PaFIA? What does it do for Pennsylvania? PaFIA is all of us—anyone in Pennsylvania who aspires to make their living by the films they create, and anyone who appreciates the statewide economic value these films bring. However, perhaps the most important argument for PaFIA (and the film industry itself, for that matter) lies not in the “What” but the “Why”? Why is film a universal phenomenon that can speak to any age, culture, or race? Why is it so important to advocate and jealously guard the means to create films in our home state? Why do we, as filmmakers, do what we do? JaLia Moody, a 2-year marketing committee member and writer for PaFIA, understands her motivation well. JaLia’s ambition for film is to exercise the tremendous responsibility of all great filmmakers—to tell stories that matter. PaFIA’s goal is to secure PA’s place at the table, in that ever-competitive pursuit of telling these stories, and JaLia’s work with PaFIA is a testament to that endeavor.
JaLia’s experience in the film industry is best described as passionate and persistent. She started her writing career in 8th grade, composing a theatrical stage play. In high school, her interests turned toward film, and in 2012, she graduated from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia with a B.A. in Mass Media Arts and concentration in film. Today, JaLia is a freelance artist in Philadelphia that services a wide spectrum of the filmmaking process for non-profit and small business clients; her work has included scriptwriting, conceptualization, budgeting, videography, directing, graphic design, and editing. When not on the film set, she is a teacher and has also tutored in English and Study Skills with the help of self-produced video lessons. Her personal goal is to be an independent filmmaker, and to start her own production company.
To that end, JaLia is extremely invested in her art; “There is a quiet, subtle power in film,” she said in our discussion, “It can influence the behavior or opinion of anyone that sees it.” When asked about her favorite project, she described a feature film script she is currently writing that deals with depression, resilience, and finding one’s purpose. One of the script’s goals is to bring awareness to a branch of psychology that emerged in 1998: “Positive Psychology” is a clinical analysis of what makes people happy, and how those factors can be incorporated into one’s lifestyle to better their mental health. JaLia pointed out this project as a message that she was excited to share with audiences—increasing awareness and offering insight to victims of depression (you can read more about Positive Psychology at https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/positive-psychology).
Another one of her current projects is a TV script that will tackle many of today’s issues, including perspectives on homosexuality and race. “I think it’s important that we utilize the medium to tell stories that matter,” she continued.
When asked about her work with PaFIA, JaLia commented on the various networking opportunities it presented, and how it can help aspiring filmmakers: “You need to connect with people on projects. You have to stay busy, and be patiently persistent. Joining PaFIA helps you meet other people that are passionate about this work.” She also spoke specifically about the articles she’s written for PaFIA; “It has been wonderful to interview people in the industry who live off the PA tax credit. Writing for PaFIA has given me intimate examples of what that tax credit really means.”
For JaLia, it is clear—the purpose of film is to move an audience; whether that be with a short joke, or a heart-wrenching drama, or a suspenseful thriller. The overall hope is that the audience will be moved toward a more healthy awareness of themselves, and of humanity. The ability to tell these stories, however, is not easy to come by. It takes a tremendous amount of talent and resources, which are safeguarded only by a renewed commitment to cultivate and maintain those resources. Very specifically, that means encouraging a healthy line of projects that employs creative and talented workers, and securing a dependable destination for future filmmakers to keep coming back to PA.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org