Much like everywhere, it’s a strange time for Georgia’s Hollywood of the South. The novel coronavirus has shut down film productions in the same way that it has impacted many of our local industries, leaving economic uncertainty, fear, and change in its wake.
We’re already starting to see early effects from the shutdown. The Walking Dead has indefinitely delayed airing of its season finale. While filming had wrapped, post production work could not be completed remotely, leaving the series in limbo until work can resume. National Geographic’s third season of Genius, which focused on Aretha Franklin, is also paused and will miss its May 25 premiere date.
As for the soundstages themselves, they’re empty, as major production companies, including Disney and Netflix, announced a few weeks ago they would temporarily halt filming as businesses and events began shutting down across the U.S. The Georgia Film Office has said that these are expected to be temporary hiatuses and that as of March 19, no production had announced it would permanently shut down.
“It’s difficult to say when production will pick back up because by all accounts, infections are getting worse and it’s growing,” said Kalena Boller, a 15-year film industry veteran and metro Atlanta resident who was interviewed on March 19 for this magazine’s 21st Century Plague project.
And no productions mean no work and no pay, a problem affecting the film industry in the same way it’s impacting restaurant, hospitality, and other service industries. Boller’s husband, Harrison, who works on film projects as a locations manager, was on the pilot for DMZ, an HBO Max series from director Ava DuVernay, when the virus began to cause closures in Atlanta. The production wrapped a week earlier than scheduled.
“People like us, we are always looking for the next gig,” Boller says. “We may be on a job from two to five months depending on whether it’s a film or television series, but once that’s over, you’re looking for your next job. You’re sending out your resumes, sending out your feelers, going to your union reps, whatever you can do to find who’s hiring next for your position.” Now, that process has been disrupted indefinitely, and those in the film industry are uncertain as to what comes next.
Even though the industry is reeling, opportunities for good abound. Medical shows, of which there are decidedly many, have been donating their masks, gloves, and other real medical PPE to hospitals in their production areas. Our local medical drama, The Resident, was not excluded, sending boxes of gear to Grady Memorial Hospital.
So, while none of the following films and television programs are currently shooting and very few (if any) of the attached celebrities can be spotted in town, here’s our usual roundup of what we did see in March before the shutdown.
Stranger Things (production codes: MCFLY, M247 MULE) began shooting its fourth season in early March. The hit Netflix series was first spotted at one of its usual haunts—the Hawkins High/Hawkins Middle School set—in Stockbridge at the Patrick Henry Adult Education Center on March 4. After that, production moved to Rome, filming overnight at Berry College. Most recently, between the 13th and the 14th, the series set up a basecamp near a Costco Wholesale on Fischer Road outside of Peachtree City.
The pilot for HBO Max’s DMZ (BP), a comic book adaptation that takes place in Manhattan after a second American civil war, continued filming in early March. Crews were spotted on Emory’s Briarcliff campus on March 5. After that, between March 7 and 8, as we all on the 13th, filming took place in downtown Atlanta.
Netflix’s feature film, Red Notice (KARATE DOLPHIN) starring Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Gal Gadot, filmed in Norcross between March 10 and 12.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s WandaVision (CLIFFORD, CAMELOT) was spotted at Coweta Charter Academy on March 3.
Amazon’s Underground Railroad dressed an elaborate set in Grantville on March 2 and 3, transforming storefronts into an 1850s town. The upcoming series also shot in Stone Mountain Park on March 9 and 10.
Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy (IVAN), which shot here last summer, returned for a few reshoots in March. A basecamp was set up off of Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro on March 11. Crews were spotted at Oglethorpe University the following days, from the 12th through the 14th. Hillbilly Elegy stars Gabriel Basso, Amy Adams, and Glenn Close.
FOX’s The Resident (TR) set up in Midtown on March 9 and was spotted in Conyers between the 12th and the 13th. They were also scheduled to film in Conyers on March 16, but we were unable to confirm if the series had paused by that point or not.
Also filming this month, Dynasty (CROSS EYE) filmed in Westview Cemetery on March 6. Doom Patrol (GRANT) was in Conyers on March 10. The CW’s Legacies (LGC) filmed a scene in Porterdale on March 2. BET’s Boomerang (PTV) was in East Point on the 3rd.
Additional reporting by Myrydd Wells.