‘How to Dream in Georgia’ with Juanita Umaña and Jaclyn Rey

Still from 'How to Dream in Georgia'

Adobe’s Voices of Our Community gives women filmmakers of all backgrounds and experience levels the tools, support, and platform to bring their vision to reality. The latest short film empowers emerging women in film by amplifying their voices and their respective communities.

In this article

  • Make money… or movies?
  • Juanita Umaña | Filmmaker | She/Her
  • Jaclyn Rey | Filmmaker | She/Her
  • What does “community” mean to you?
  • Tell your own story

As a follow-up to our first short in the series, "In a New York Minute,” we partnered with two emerging women filmmakers, Juanita Umaña and Jaclyn Rey, as they explore the meaning of community in their hometown of Atlanta. Together, Umaña creates a snapshot of a growing filmmaker community united by their ambition, drive, and boundless creativity. Rey documents Umaña at work, capturing not just the essence of the film’s theme, but also a rare yet telling portrait of who Umaña is within Atlanta’s filmmaker scene.

“The scale of artists that there are here [in Atlanta] is kind of astonishing. Like you don't really know that this is here — until you get here.”

-Juanita Umaña, filmmaker

With Umaña’s short film, “How to Dream in Georgia,” she employs an inviting meta approach. The film's crux invites actors and creators alike to discuss their experiences working in the film business and how they draw strength from one another and the city of Atlanta to pursue their ambitions.


Atlanta-based filmmaker Juanita Umaña believes making films is like dreaming. See how the community she has found since moving from Bogota, Colombia has shaped who she is and what she creates. Adobe is proud to feature Juanita and other emerging women filmmakers in the Voices of Our Community project, an ongoing effort to inspire and amplify the next generation of storytellers.

Make money… or movies?

“How to Dream in Georgia” balances the diverse perspectives of friends and colleagues, remarkably bringing the thought process of a creator to life, as it oscillates between choosing the “safety net” of a 9-to-5 job versus pursuing a creative life and career. As each quick cut of perspectives gets pieced together, the film creates and renders one continuous thought process of the working artist.

“It would be so much easier not to do it … like it would just be 100 million times easier to sit at home and not do it,” says Costa Karalis. Cast as “The Old Friend,” Karalis is a first-generation Middle-Eastern American filmmaker in his own right, who says he turned to storytelling to navigate the loss of his father at a young age.

“But at the end of the day, it's just remembering why you were passionate about it, to begin with, and why you wanted to do this, as opposed to a safe desk job,” says filmmaker Geena Hernandez, who is cast as “The New Friend.” “Like living simply in the countryside of France — I think about that a lot, but I'm like, ‘No, I think as soon as I would go there, I would get bored and be like, ‘Oh, man, I would choose the stress, rather than a nice, simple, peaceful life.’”

Juanita Umaña | Filmmaker | She/Her

Portrait of Juanita Umaña

Juanita Umaña says she became serious about filmmaking while a sophomore at the University of Central Florida (UCF). “I got into the film program in school, and it opened up a world for me where I could watch a lot of movies I wasn't watching before. That sparked a lot of inspiration in me that I didn't know I had, so I started making small projects within my program.”

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Umaña’s short autobiographical film “Before the World Was Big,” an intimate portrait of her life and her mother, was recognized by the Sundance Institute in 2021, which landed her a spot in the Sundance Ignite x Adobe fellowship program that same year.

Rather than head for New York or Los Angeles, Umaña says she opted to find a place that was close to home. “I come from Florida, so that was a good middle-between — not going out to L.A. or New York. It was kind of nearby, and I knew that production was happening in Atlanta.”

Umaña credits Atlanta for allowing her to gain industry experience across different departments — videography, editing, and production. “In this industry, I've worked in several different departments, and even now, I'm [working in] a new department. I'm constantly learning and trying to glean as much as I can.”

Umaña’s experiences have allowed her to find a haven among other local artists who comprise Atlanta's growing, vibrant creative scene. “I'm still discovering all these pockets of people that are doing stuff independently — people who are working in the industry, but then also going out on their own time and just creating things independently from movies. There are a lot of music communities here, like different genres; I have friends who are involved in that too. The scale of artists that there are here is kind of astonishing. Like you don't really know that this is here until you get here.”

Jaclyn Rey | Filmmaker | She/Her

Portrait of Jaclyn Rey

Jaclyn Rey also calls Atlanta home. The award-winning content creator is known for her unique take on branding and visual storytelling. Her work has been widely seen in national publications like Rolling Stone, Time, People Magazine, Esquire, and NPR.

Rey has honed her skills for storytelling in social media through images and videos that inspire and captivate broad audiences. “It's a very vulnerable thing every time I send an edit off. It's nerve-wracking to see people's responses, but that's where people are right now. If I get a job that elicits some sort of empowering message, some sort of inspiration, just getting feedback like, ‘Oh my gosh, I needed to see this,’ or ‘I feel so encouraged or inspired after watching it.’ I mean, that's the most fulfilling thing ever. I try to take work with that sort of emotion behind it, and I just think it's the most fulfilling part of my job.”

“I think that we are thirsty for authentic messaging. I now focus on everything I make and want it to be very real. I like creating an authentic community where people feel heard and understood.”

-Jaclyn Rey

At a time when many of us feel distracted or overwhelmed by social media, Rey says that she has noticed a shift towards embracing authenticity. “I think that we are thirsty for authentic messaging. I now focus on everything I make and want it to be very real. I think, in many ways, people are just trying to cut through some of the fakeness and they just want realness. We want to see real people, what they look like, how they think. And when I'm working with brands, I like creating an authentic community where people feel heard and understood. It's kind of an overused word, but I would say authenticity is what people are looking for right now.”

What does “community” mean to you?

“How to Dream in Georgia” is an intimate look at how “community” can take different forms for the creator’s life. For Rey, it allowed her to work alongside a colleague and give voice to a rising Hispanic filmmaker’s perspective through vivid and telling snapshots on social media.

“We approached this in the reverse way that I usually do— I typically like to have an interview with someone first to understand what they're doing, and then we go into it, but with Umaña’s schedule, I was watching her ask questions and film, and I was getting footage of that. It wasn't until she wrapped the whole project that I sat down with her, and then I really got to dive in with questions and ask, ‘What has this been about like?’

“In sitting down with Umaña one-on-one, I finally got to put the pieces together. I had pretty much all my footage done, and I just needed to understand her ‘why’ and what this film meant to her."

I created three edits for this, each with her voice and creative lens. I think that was kind of the spin I took on it. I was trying to show people who she is, so they would want to learn more about her, and watch her film.”

As Umaña chats with each character in the film, the audience gains a glimpse at the mindset of a working artist, how despite their diverse approaches and varied styles to filmmaking, they are, in fact, one. I'm so grateful to these people who have been with me, especially for a few years now. And then also like the new people coming into my process, which I've introduced to some new people in the last two years since moving to Atlanta.”

“I think the community I'm a part of, they support me. They don't blindly follow me, but they have trust in me that whatever I'm doing is going to be something that's worth their time.”

-Juanita Umaña

Tell your own story

The amount of women working behind the scenes in the film industry has seen a slight uptick of late, but mainly as producers and executive producers, according to findings in the Celluloid Ceiling Study by San Diego State University. In that same study, women make up just 17 percent of directors and writers.

But the perspective of women filmmakers is invaluable, and those statistics are changing – with support from communities, the people within them, and tools like a mobile phone, women filmmakers are telling the unique stories they want the world to see. Taking perfection out of the equation and approaching it with authenticity, and truth.

They’re introducing new and diverse characters and points of view – and changing the face of cinema, one film at a time. We’re shining light on the issue and putting it on full display, encouraging everyone to tell their story, and providing the tools to make it accessible. Because we believe that everyone has a story to tell and that all stories deserve to be heard.

What’s yours?