I have a riddle for you. What does a public high school, a fine foods store, and a 160-year old mansion - located in Georgia - have in common?
You guessed it! They’re all filming locations.
THE HIGH SCHOOL
The high school in question is Decatur High School, the filming location for the movie Mean Girls 2. For a 7-day shoot, Decatur High School earned $24,000, stated Mark Cottrell, the Atlanta location scout responsible for securing Decatur High School for the production.
THE FINE FOODS STORE
“I did it for the exposure,” said Tommy Greene, the owner of Greene’s Fine Foods. He also made $1000 in the process.
THE 160-YEAR OLD MANSION
The 160-year-old mansion is Worthington Manor in Covington, Georgia. The manor, built in 1850, was used in the filming of Vampire Diaries as the home of the mayor of the fictitious town Mystic Falls, Virginia. Covington itself, a small town with a population of 14,000, is the setting of Mystic Falls.
“It’s very flattering,” said Ben Dameron, one of the owners of Worthington Manor. “They ask before they move a piece of furniture. They act like they’re a guest.”
FILM INDUSTRY - A FAST PACE BUSINESS
Craig Dominey, a location specialist for Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, stated that the industry is a fast pace business, with everyone a bit impatient and wanting results immediately.
“It’s all about speed,” Dominey said. “When we send our requests for locations or something, we need to get information back as soon as possible.”
Dominey also stated that in order to keep up with the industry, local governments should make the permitting process easier and more accessible. It also helps to have a point person as the main contact with the production companies. Last and not least, a database of shooting locations is crucial.
Lee Thomas, Director of Film at Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, said that television productions often get their scripts on Friday and schedule their shoot for Monday. “They would typically need to get a permit in their hands within 48 hours,” she added.
Clara Deemer, Director of Tourism for Covington/Newton County Chamber, is an important contact person for the film office, shared Thomas, because she knows all the businesses and dealers in the area. “If we say we need a church, she will jump into her car and drive around and send back five or six good examples,” Thomas said of Deemer. “Those kind of people are invaluable.”
“I get the movies here,” said Deemer. “That’s my job. That’s economic development.” Having movies filmed in town is not a short-term gain. The positive effect continues years down the road. “It’s not just economic impact while they’re actually filming; it’s the economic impact it can have 30 or 35 years later,” Deemer stated. “Seventy-five percent of our visitors come because of The Dukes of Hazard and In the Heat of the Night.”
MOVIES FILMED IN GEORGIA
Among the upcoming movies to be filmed in Georgia are Wanderlust (with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd), Footloose (with Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell), and Fast Five (Ludacris and Vin Diesel).
As to movies filmed in Georgia in the past, the list is quite long and includes popular films such as The Blind Side, Zombieland, Due Date, Life As We Know It, Halloween 2, We Are Marshall.
For more information on productions filmed in Georgia, visit the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office.