According to BeltLine.org, the Atlanta BeltLine is most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in Atlanta, and is one of the largest urban development programs in the United States. However, some say it is causing gentrification and class segregation in Atlanta. Three University of Georgia entertainment and media studies students, senior Allison Krausman, senior Wellie Delmer and junior Trey Leonard, went to Atlanta to film a documentary exploring the truth behind the BeltLine. Titled “Over The Line,” the end result does just that.
When deciding what to make their documentary about, the students knew they wanted to focus on Atlanta. After staying up to date on current events, they also decided to stick with something relevant to today's news.
“The whole pretense of the film is to focus on racial issues, which have been such a prevalent thing in the news recently,” Delmer said. “So we chose urban development projects and how the BeltLine divides the city up.”
Creating the film was a long and very involved process for them, which began in early October 2017. There was a lot of research that went into the project before they could start creating the documentary.
“We were researching how the BeltLine was affecting people’s lives, and gentrification kept popping up,” Krausman said. “Not all of the facts were backing up so we wanted to delve into it ourselves.”
Through their research, they found that gentrification was an issue in a lot of cities, in the U.S. and around the world. Since the city of Atlanta was so close to them and was experiencing this issue, they found it the perfect place to do their research. Two of the filmmakers grew up near the Atlanta area, so it was important for them to learn how this issue affects their hometowns.
Another part of the filming process was finding people to speak to and film who have personally been affected by the BeltLine. They found subjects through researching articles, attending meetings and sometimes from sheer luck.
“We went to the BeltLine quarterly meeting and people saw us filming,” Delmer said. “We got a few people to talk to us that way.”
The students knew in order for the documentary to be free of bias, they had to be open to the fact that they were probably not going to get exactly what they were expecting from the film. What they discovered, though, was that the process of filming was ever-changing.
“With each new person that we spoke with, it reshaped the storyline,” Leonard said. “It was such a rewarding process to see how drastically the story would change with each person.”
Going into the filming process, they thought people were going to be very angry about the BeltLine. They did find people, however, who saw the benefits of the development but just wanted some changes.
“I found a lot of subjects who just wanted the developments to be more inclusive,” Leonard said. “There are many areas that the developments are not focusing on.”
One of the things they found about the urban developments in Atlanta while filming the documentary was that a lot of the issues are hidden in plain sight. They saw that near the new developments were areas needing help that seemed like they were being ignored.
“Before filming, I had no idea that one of the heaviest drug corners in Atlanta was only a few blocks away from the Ponce City Market,” Krausman said. “People need to be aware of this to make the situation better.”
Their main goal for the film was to make sure it ended with a call to action so that people would get involved and have the knowledge to help make changes. They found that changes will never be made unless the community wants them.
“We need people to be aware of these complexities in order to be able to vote on changes and policies,” Delmer said.