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Matt Walljasper

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Matt Walljasper is a local multimedia producer and film junkie. Originally from Dallas, he gave up his oil and cattle in order to follow the growing film industries in New Mexico, Chicago, and now Atlanta. Armed with a degree in film production from Loyola University Chicago and a love for all things entertainment, Matt’s no stranger to the wide world of production and pop culture.

What was filming in Atlanta now: How the film industry reacted to COVID-19 and what shot before sets closed

What's filming in Atlanta now filming coronavirus
A sign for The Resident from a few months ago, a production that has since donated its medical supplies to Grady Hospital to help with COVID-19 response.

Photograph by Myrydd Wells

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B94v9ANlRvP/

 

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.

Where to stream Atlanta-filmed movies and TV shows

Where did Stranger Things film in Atlanta?
Not caught up on Stranger Things? Now’s a good time to tune in.

Photograph courtesy of Netflix

A lot of us have some extra time on our hands right now as we stay home, practicing social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus. That means little projects, yardwork, learning new skills, and watching copious amounts of television. If you’re going to sit on the couch, you might as well watch stuff made in your own backyard, right?

 

If you haven’t seen much that was produced in Atlanta’s Hollywood of the South, now’s the perfect time. These films and television programs will transform places you know into far away locales, let you explore the city during different eras, and entertain you for hours. To make things even easier for you, we’ve listed what you can watch on each streaming service. Grab some popcorn and start watching.

Netflix
If you’re looking for a good introduction to projects shot in Atlanta, Netflix is a great first stop for local binge-worthy content. Some of the most successful films and television shows, including Avengers: Infinity War, Stranger Things, The Vampire Diaries, and The Walking Dead can be found here.

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Stranger Things
  • Ozark
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Halt & Catch Fire
  • Insatiable
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Vampire Diaries
  • The Originals
  • Legacies
  • Black Lightning
  • Raising Dion
  • Containment
  • Scream 2 (also on Showtime)
  • Dynasty
  • Love is Blind
Where can you stream FX Atlanta
Atlanta is available to stream on Hulu.

Photograph by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Hulu
You’ll find Donald Glover’s quintessential Atlanta series here. If you’re looking to dive into Tyler Perry’s filmography, Hulu has the biggest selection available to stream. Additionally, check out the Academy Award-winning I, Tonya if you missed it, or delve into local classics like Drumline, Smokey and the Bandit, or Archer.

  • Atlanta
  • I, Tonya
  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Archer (also on FXNow)
  • Drumline
  • Real Housewives of Atlanta
  • For Colored Girls
  • Madea’s Witness Protection (also on Amazon Prime)
  • Madea’s Big Happy Family (also on Amazon Prime)
  • A Madea Family Funeral (also on Amazon Prime)
  • Boo 2! A Madera Halloween (also on Amazon Prime)
  • Lodge 49
  • Futurama (Okay, this one wasn’t produced here, but go watch season two’s 12th episode, “The Deep South” to appreciate an entire episode dedicated to Atlanta.)
Where to stream Avengers: Endgame
Catch up with the MCU on Disney+ and Netflix.

Photograph by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney

Disney+
Disney+ should be your first stop to get into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many of which were filmed here. And if you’re missing sports while practicing good social distancing, there’s the classic Remember the Titans.

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Black Panther
  • Captain America: Civil War (also on USA Network)
  • Ant-Man (also on USA Network and TNT)
  • Remember the Titans
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Amazon Prime
There aren’t a lot of made-in-Georgia productions on Amazon Prime, but since this is probably what you’re using to avoid having to leave the house for supplies, it’s worth looking at. As with Hulu, Amazon Prime has a few of Tyler Perry’s films.

  • Madea’s Witness Protection (Also on Hulu)
  • Madea’s Big Happy Family (Also on Hulu)
  • A Madea Family Funeral (Also on Hulu)
  • Boo 2! A Madera Halloween (Also on Hulu)
What Baby Driver got wrong about Atlanta
Baby Driver is available to stream on FXNow

Photograph by Wilson Webb ©2017 TriStar Pictures, Inc. and MRC II Distribution Company L.P. All Rights Reserved..

Basic Cable Channels
If you’ve got a cable login, you have access to decent online libraries of content, you may just have to endure ads and/or television edits. As a bonus, it would seem that FX currently holds the streaming rights to a lot of comedies that shot here over the last six years. And we could all use a laugh right now.

FXNow

  • Archer (Also on Hulu)
  • Baby Driver
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Anchorman 2
  • Ride Along
  • Passengers
  • Goosebumps
  • Keeping up with the Joneses
  • Dumb & Dumber To
  • Let’s Be Cops

Food Network

  • Good Eats

SyFy

  • Zombieland

TNT

  • Ant-Man (Also on Disney+ and USA Network)
  • The Divergent Series: Insurgent
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant

USA Network

  • Captain America: Civil War (Also on Disney+)
  • Ant-Man (Also on Disney+ and TNT)
  • Madea’s Family Reunion
  • A Madea Christmas

Premium Cable Networks
Some of our best television content is locked away behind subscription-based premium channels. If you’re already paying for these, there’s a few can’t miss shows like The Outsider and Watchmen. Also, dive into some of Atlanta’s classics such as Sharky’s Machine, Fried Green Tomatoes, and My Cousin Vinny.

HBO

  • Watchmen
  • The Outsider
  • Fast Five
  • RoboCop 3

Showtime

  • The Fighting Temptations
  • Who is America?
  • Scream 2 (Also on Netflix)

Starz

  • Sharky’s Machine
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • My Cousin Vinny
  • Venom
  • Manhunter
  • Pet Sematary II

Cinemax

  • First Man

Other platforms
Aside from the major networks and services, a few odds and ends have some of the Hollywood of the South’s work ready to watch.

YouTube Premium

  • Cobra Kai

Apple TV+

  • Amazing Stories

CBS All Access

  • The Big Chill (Also on Crackle)
  • Escape from New York (Also on IMDbTV)
  • MacGyver

IMDbTV

  • Trouble with the Curve
  • Escape from New York (Also on CBS All Access)

Crackle

  • The Big Chill (Also on CBS All Access)
  • School Daze

Vudu

  • The Founder

The Walking Dead Awards: Ready, aim, feels

The Walking Dead 10x11
One of these two is going to die, aren’t they?

Photograph by Jace Downs/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Hilltop is smothered, covered, and lit on fire.

Season 10, Episode 11: “Morning Star”

Best crossover: Did anyone else think Negan’s walker mask looked like the Joker?

Second best crossover: If it weren’t for Game of Thrones, do you think we would have heard the phrase “bend the knee” during this episode?

Worst battle strategy: The electric fence. Sure, it was cool and took down a few walkers, but it only lasted about 30 seconds before being overrun. Not worth the effort.

Best battle strategy: Just as Hilltop’s forces moved their phalanx to engage the walkers, we thought that after eight or so years of zombie apocalypse they’d have prepared some incendiary weapons. Then Alpha launched her firebombs. Glad to see at least someone was paying attention.

Survival tip: Yes, pine sap really is that flammable. You can even make a lamp out of it.

Best lie detector: Rosita knew that Eugene’s feelings for Stephanie were so strong that he wouldn’t actually kiss her when she offered, despite Rosita being his biggest crush for so long. It’s nice to see these two managed to survive the awkwardness of unrequited love to become, as Eugene put it, BFFs again.

Most realistic: Ezekiel noting to Carol that if they continued to sit in the woods, the mosquitoes would eat them alive. How have we gone this long without ever mentioning the presence of these nuisance bugs?

Beat radio callsign: Judith calls out for Daito (大刀) over the walkie-talkie. That’s Japanese for a long sword, easily a reference for Michonne and her iconic weapon.

Best insight from living in Atlanta: And if you’re wondering how Judith learned any Japanese, we can assume it came from Michonne. From past episodes, we know that before the apocalypse, Michonne lived in Atlanta—Midtown, to be specific. And if you’re wondering where she might have learned the language, GPB had a little program in the late ’90s called Irasshai, taught by Dr. Tim Cook.

Most out of place: Negan’s crisp leather jacket doesn’t exactly make him blend in among the other Whisperers and walkers. While the others can blend in rather seamlessly, he just looks like a guy in a mask.

Most adorable: Little R.J. sporting Rick’s hat and Daryl’s vest. Aww.

Long way for a first date: Stephanie finally agreed to meet Eugene face-to-face in Charleston, West Virginia. According to Google, that’s a 340-mile, nearly six-hour trek by car, so he is in for quite the journey to see this girl.

Most endangered: This episode was filled with sentimental moments, reconciliations, and an abundance of feels. And whenever that happens, someone ends up dead. So Daryl, Carol, Ezekiel, Eugene, and Rosita had really better watch out.

Best exchange:
Carol: “You should hate me.”
Lydia: “It’s hard to hate you when you seem to hate yourself so much.”

Most disturbing image: The horde of rats running toward Hilltop. Sure, in the world of the show, that’s probably nothing, but if we see one rat in the MARTA station, we’re flustered. We’d rather face the walkers.

Best kill: The whole slow-motion battle scene. It’s hard to pick out one take-down, so we’re going to divide it equally among the citizens of Hilltop who got a hero shot during the opening wave of this fight.

Episode MVP: The aforementioned endangered crew: Daryl, Carol, Ezekiel, Eugene, and Rosita. Most of these characters have been around for several seasons now and all are carrying strong emotional subplots. They also all have something to lose. Knowing this show’s track record, at least one of them isn’t going to make it through season 10 alive, so let’s enjoy watching them while we can.

The Walking Dead Awards: Your way is not the only way

The Walking Dead 10 10
Daryl and Alpha face off

Photograph by Jace Downs/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Beta creeps, Lydia sneaks, and Daryl’s blood leaks.

Season 10, Episode 10: “Stalker”

Most-used vehicle: For those keeping track, that’s the third distinct RV we’ve seen in this show.

Big prediction: Gabriel’s uncharacteristic bloodlust for the Whisperers is going to end up getting Rosita or Coco killed. Or himself.

Most unrealistic: Both the good guys (Daryl, Mary) and the bad guys (Alpha, Beta) had their respective enemy in the crosshairs multiple times during this episode and yet every single character hesitated attacking for way, way too long. If your life was in danger, wouldn’t you try harder to take down your attacker?

Most realistically depressing: “You met the wrong person first,” Judith notes to Mary as she sits in the jail cell. After watching folks on this show follow the Governor, Negan, and now Alpha, it is so easy and honestly so tragic to watch good people join awful followings as a way to survive.

On second thought: Rick got a lot of people killed, so it’s kind of a pick-your-poison situation.

Best horror callback: We absolutely loved Beta’s invasion of Alexandria. The whole thing, from the way it was shot to how it went down, was reminiscent of Halloween or Friday the 13th. Here’s hoping to more unstoppable, slow-moving, powerful Beta stalking.

Best sci-fi callback: Did anyone else get Blade Runner Tears in Rain vibes from Alpha’s monologue just before Lydia appears?

Most in need of subtitles: Alpha’s accent is already difficult to understand. Add near-fatal injuries into the mix and we barely have any idea of what she’s saying.

Headcannon: Lydia has been in the trees watching Daryl from just out of sight this entire time.

Biggest question: We find out that at one point, Dante dug the tunnel into Alexandria that Beta uses during his infiltration. How exactly did no one notice this? Was this a Great Escape or Shawshank Redemption-style operation?

Second biggest question: We wonder if Morgan Street is a prenamed road from the original Alexandria community or if it was named for TWD’s Morgan. If the latter, is there a Grimes Avenue?

Best line: “I’ve spoken to God, and he told me to hang you.” —Gabriel to Mary

Most disturbing image: Beta’s invasion of Alexandria. It’s nice to a see a suspenseful moment in The Walking Dead that doesn’t rely on an absurd amount of walkers or the main hero-vs-main villain one-on-one action scene. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen suspense in the mix. The whole thing was unsettling, making us worry what was next as Beta slipped around setting the stage for something big, catching our heroes completely off guard.

Best kill: After everything we’ve gone through with Alpha, it was nice to see her dreams of Lydia taking up the family mantle get crushed.

Episode MVP: Lydia, for standing up to Alpha and finding her own way. (And for saving Daryl, thus preventing that ever-promised fan riot.)

What’s filming in Atlanta now? Loki, WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Samaritan, DMZ, and more

What's filming in Atlanta now?Despite all of the rain this February, we still had quite a few projects filming in and around Atlanta. Here’s what we saw and where we saw it.

This is the month of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Atlanta. Three Disney+ series are in various states of production throughout the metropolitan area. First up, Loki (production codes: TBA & DNL) starring Tom Hiddleston along with MCU newcomers Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The series will focus on Loki, post-Avengers: Endgame, using the Tesseract to travel through time, altering the course of history. We first saw Loki on February 11, at Westview Cemetery. Production then moved to Loganville, shooting at the nearby rock quarry. Signs were spotted as far away as downtown Lawrenceville. Between February 20 and 24, crews worked at the Georgia Renaissance Festival grounds. Most recently, between the 25th and the 29th, scenes were filmed at North DeKalb Mall.

 

Meanwhile, fellow MCU series WandaVision (CLIFFORD/CAMELOT), starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, was spotted in Chattahoochee Hills on February 9. The next day, crews filmed in Williamson. Signs were spotted off of Cochran Mill Road near Palmetto on the 11th. More filming took place on February 12 in Griffin. On the 14th, the series was in Fayetteville. Three days later, on February 17, filming returned to Chattahoochee Hills. Most recently, between the 27th and the 28th, scenes were shot in Fairburn.

The last MCU show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TT), starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, started February in and around Dobbins Air Reserve Base and Lockheed Martin between the 4th and the 12th. On February 14, signs were posted in Newnan at GA-34 and I-85. Most recently, crews staged an outdoor scene in downtown Decatur at the courthouse from February 25 through the 27th.

And speaking of superheroes, Sylvester Stallone is in town for a new movie this month, Samaritan (SAM). The film takes after a superhero’s epic battle ended with him disappearing. 20 years later, a young boy thinks he may have found him. So far, we’ve mainly spotted Samaritan downtown on February 3 and 5. Other scenes were shot off of Auburn Avenue near the King Center on February 12 and 26.

HBO Max, the new streaming service from WarnerMedia, is shooting a pilot, DMZ (BP), which is based on a comic book about a second American civil war occurring in the near future. In this world, Manhattan is a massive demilitarized zone. The pilot stars Rosario Dawson, Benjamin Bratt, and Josh Pais. A basecamp for DMZ was set up downtown at Courtland Street and John Portman Boulevard on February 19. More filming took place downtown on the 23rd. A scene was shot near the Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 26. Most recently, between the 27th and the 29th, areas downtown around Georgia State University were transformed into the show’s titular DMZ.

The Netflix film, Red Notice (KARATE DOLPHIN), starring Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Gal Gadot, continued shooting into February. After filming at Atlanta Metro Studios for the first week of the month, crews moved to Pickens County on February 12. They would stay in the area until the 16th, filming in mines near Talking Rock. On February 17, filming would return to Union City.

Amazon’s Underground Railroad (UGRR) filmed in Stone Mountain Park on January 29. The series was also spotted in Grantville on February 19. More recently, scenes were filmed in Newborn between the 25th and the 26th.

Also filming this month, the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect (QOS/RPL) was downtown on February 5. The other Aretha Franklin project, Genius: Aretha (AF), was in Tucker on the 10th and in Buckhead on February 13. The Investigation Discovery true crime docu-series Your Worst Nightmare (CLP) was spotted in Fayetteville on January 29 and in Austell on January 30. FOX’s The Resident (TR) filmed in Conyers on February 25. The CW’s Legacies (LGC) was in Covington on the 18th. BET’s Boomerang (PTV) was spotted in Stone Mountain Park on February 26. CBS’s MacGyver (EYE) filmed in Newnan on the 24th. Kelsey Grammer’s Charming the Hearts of Men (1964) returned for reshoots in Madison on February 2. The DC Universe series, Doom Patrol (GRANT) plopped signs off of I-20 and Salem Road in Conyers on February 20.

The Walking Dead Awards: Adventures in spelunking 

The Walking Dead 1009
Well, at least they had copious matches and flashlights.

Photograph by Jace Downs/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: the group explores a cave, Negan has sex in the woods, and boom goes the dynamite.

Season 10, Episode 9: “Squeeze”

Darkest subject matter: The cave. Come on, AMC, we can suspend disbelief when it comes to the lighting conditions of caves. Our TV brightness only can go up so far!

Worst environmental decision: Alpha, after leaving our heroes to die in the walker-infested cave, carelessly throws her still-lit torch on the forest floor and walks away. We’ve seen the devastation a wildfire can cause on this show already—in this season, no less. Have some common sense, Alpha.

Best platforming: Clearly our heroes spent their former lives playing Super Mario Bros. as they all lunged across the stone platforms in the cave nearly effortlessly. As close as those walkers got to each of them as they hopped by, it feels nearly impossible (read: actually difficult to suspend disbelief) that someone wouldn’t have been pulled under or bit.

Easiest detective work: Gamma just about pulled a “Jim from The Office” camera mug when Alpha and Beta were talking about spies. No wonder Negan was able to figure it out so quickly.

Best callback: Carol has actually mentioned her claustrophobia before, way back in the 6th episode of the series, “TS-19.”

Most prepared: Good thing Aaron just happened to bring his mace attachment along on this trip. Always carry the proper accessories.

Biggest question: How did both Negan and Alpha take off their pants without removing their boots first?

Most regretted sponsorship deal: Poor Microsoft Surface, getting that lucrative “brought to you by” ad spot right after Alpha and Negan’s full-body nudity.

Most frustrating: It’s not as though Carol hasn’t spent the entire series making questionable decisions, but watching her continue to give into her worst instincts over and over this season is exhausting.

Best exchange:
Aaron to Jerry as they crawl through the narrow cave passage: “Hey, you alright back there?”

Jerry: “Yeah, sure, I’m just a six-foot-two dude who had trouble fitting into airplane bathrooms, why wouldn’t I be ok?”

Most disturbing image: Negan and Alpha’s . . . scene. We can’t think of two characters we’d be less excited about hooking up. The whole thing was awkward, from the lack of chemistry, to the clinical nature of the transaction, to the fact that Alpha kept the dead skin of another human on her face the entire time. We didn’t sign up for any of this, and we just want to go home.

Best kill: Caryl. This fan-favorite platonic couple has been strained as of late, but this week’s episode certainly makes it seem that Daryl is tired of Carol’s blind rage cauring trouble for everyone around her. Carol seems like she’s genuinely sorry for her actions, but given her trauma losing Henry, we’re not sure if she’s coming back to the light just yet. Either way, it’ll be awhile before this friendship is on the mend.

Episode MVP: Jerry, for not dying. We knew early on that he was going to be on Talking Dead, which is never a good sign for a character’s survival (as evidenced by the show’s other cast member guest, Lauren Ridloff, who plays the now-in-limbo Connie). We mentally prepared ourselves for the loss of a favorite character when he got stuck in the narrow crevice. Even when Kelly uncovered the box of dynamite, we were still half-expecting him to just disintegrate. The peril instead was directed toward Connie and Magna, which is not great, but slightly better.

What’s filming in Atlanta now? Red Notice, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Respect, plus the state tax credit audit

What's filming in Atlanta now?It’s a new year, which means new movies and television programs filming in Atlanta. While we’re still in the slower part of the year, there’s no shortage of projects filming around the city. Here’s what we saw to start off 2020:

New this month, Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Gal Gadot are in town for Red Notice (KARATE DOLPHIN). This curiously coded film, an action-comedy, revolves around an Interpol agent tracking the world’s most wanted art thief. We first saw Red Notice in Stockbridge between January 9 and 12. After that, on the 13th, crews filmed near Conyers. Additional scenes were set up at Atlanta Metro Studios in Union City on January 15. Crews would continue working in the area until the 22nd. On January 25, a scene was shot in Norcross. Most recently, on the 30th, production returned to Union City.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe/Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TT) continued filming into the new year. Between January 4 and 6, crews worked out of Sweetwater Creek State Park near Douglasville. Overnight on January 11, Krog Street Tunnel was set up for filming. The production was next spotted at Pratt-Pullman Yard in Kirkwood on January 15. Most recently, scenes were filmed in Griffin on January 24. The Falcon and the Winder Soldier stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, reprising their MCU roles.

Respect (QOS/RPL), the Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson filmed in Midtown at the Georgian Terrace between January 8 and 9. Signs were also spotted at North Avenue at the Connector. On January 19, additional scenes were shot in West Midtown. On the 22nd, the film moved up to Duluth, shooting at the Infinite Energy Center. Crews continued to work there on January 24. Most recently, the production has been downtown, filming at the First Congregational Church of Atlanta on January 27. Respect also features Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, Tate Donovan, and Tituss Burgess.

As we mentioned last month, there are actually two Aretha Franklin projects currently in production in Atlanta. Aside from Respect, Genius: Aretha (AF), the third season of National Geographic’s Genius series, is also filming. Filming for this production took place in Norcross on January 8 and 12. Signs were posted at Piedmont Road and Peachtree Street in Midtown on January 14. A basecamp was set up in Marietta at the Cobb Civic Center for filming on Marietta Square between the 21st and the 23. Most recently, the series was spotted in Porterdale on January 28.

Underground Railroad (UGRR), the Amazon series based on the novel by Colson Whitehead, filmed in Dawsonville between January 22 and 23 as well as between January 27 and 28. A scene was also shot in Stone Mountain Park on January 29.

The CW’s Black Lightning (SIGN) also continued filming into the new year. The series filmed downtown on January 10. On both the 15th and the 21st, crews filmed in Decatur. Another scene was shot back in downtown Atlanta on January 23.

Also shooting this month, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (EEE) was at Pinewood Atlanta Studios between January 27 and 30. Doom Patrol (GRANT), for DC Universe, filmed in Conyers on January 13, 15, and 16. On the 27th, a scene was shot at Emory. Chris Pratt’s The Tomorrow War (BONEYARD) has wrapped, but left with one more scene filmed downtown, on January 12, complete with the iconic red smoke these shoots have been known for during the last several months. FOX’s The Resident (TR) mostly stuck to it usual digs in Conyers, filming there throughout the month. The CW’s Dynasty (CROSS EYE) was spotted in Suwanee on January 17 and in Norcross on the 24th. CBS’s MacGyver (EYE) filmed downtown near Peachtree Center on January 23.

And finally this month, state auditors have begun looking into the economic impact of Georgia’s film tax credits. After other agencies have been targeted for spending cuts in the current and upcoming fiscal years, the film credit cost has been more heavily scrutinized. The auditors’ findings claim that the economic impact of the film tax credits have been overexaggerated, and that the money lost on the credits could have instead gone to other agencies. They go on to claim that the revenue which does flow in from the film industry is not enough to offset the credits.

The Department of Economic Development disputed the auditors’ findings, stating that there’s no guarantee any revenue would be reinvested into communities and that the film industry is not being accurately measured in the audit.

While our tax credits may not be perfect, it’s important to remember that they’re the primary reason we have so many productions here. As was the case with New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, and Louisiana, when the credits dry up, so do the projects. Sure, a few remain, but once-bustling industries shrink and jobs don’t return.

It would seem that the state auditors think Georgia would bring more revenue from a smaller industry without tax breaks than a larger industry with the current system. Whether that’s true or not remains up to debate.

Blockbusters, super heroes, and backlash: The decade in film in the Hollywood of the South

What's filming in Atlanta now?
A set of filming signs near a Stranger Things set in 2018

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

The 2010s were a defining period for the entertainment industry in Atlanta. With a 2020 and a new decade facing us, it’s time to reflect on just how far we’ve come in ten years’ time. It’s been transformative, with humble beginnings, soaring peaks, and peril around every corner. Heck, it’s almost like a movie itself.

Early developments
Filming in Georgia started long before the now ubiquitous 2008 tax credits funded our current powerhouse film and television production industry. But back then, you’d run into a basecamp once in a blue moon. The tax credits set the stage for our industry to grow. By 2010, Georgia had landed several long-running television series, including The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. At the same time, Tyler Perry was filming For Colored Girls and producing the later seasons of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Floyd County Productions was working on animated hit Archer for FX. Adult Swim was at full-stride, cranking out in-house content and producing its own shows. Alton Brown’s Good Eats was nearing the ends of its original production run.

It’s all about the money
In 2014, the biggest boon to the film industry came when North Carolina slashed its tax credits. A power vacuum opened as budget-conscious producers looked to where they could move future projects to save the most money. Similar cuts in Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico shifted more and more productions our way in the following years. By 2016, we had produced more of the top 100 performing films than California.

Make it a blockbuster night
Georgia has been a magnet for major motion picture franchises. Fast Five came to Atlanta in 2011, bringing the weight of the $5 billion Fast and the Furious franchise with it. Follow-up sequels Furious 7 (2015) and The Fate of the Furious (2017) also shot in Atlanta. We’d see more of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), Rampage (2018), and Baywatch (2017). We also can claim hits Pitch Perfect 3 (2017), Zombieland 2 (2019), Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019), and the upcoming Bad Boys for Life (2020).

The age of heroes
After the opening of Pinewood Atlanta Studios in 2014, several Marvel Cinematic Universe films arrived in Atlanta, starting with Ant-Man in 2015. Captain America: Civil War followed in 2016. Both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming shot in 2017. By 2018, Atlanta had become to de facto capital of the MCU with Ant-Man and the Wasp, Black Panther, and our MCU crown jewel, the tandem productions of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

But there were heroes and villains outside of the MCU as well. Sony’s Spider-Man franchise flick Venom shot here in 2018. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is now being filmed at Pinewood. Stargirl is about to drop onto DC Universe. Doom Patrol is now shooting its second season. Powers aired on PlayStation Sony TV from 2015-2016. And, of course, we can proudly claim the recent megahit HBO series Watchmen (2019).

Young adult novels
In the middle of the decade, feature films adapted from YA novels were all the rage. Georgia had its share, stealing the Hunger Games sequels Catching Fire (2013) and both parts of Mockingjay (2014, 2015) from North Carolina. We also inherited the never-to-be-finished Divergent quadrilogy from Chicago. Poor box-office performance killed series after Divergent: Insurgent (2015) and Divergent: Allegiant (2016). Additional YA films like The Fifth Wave (2016) and The Darkest Minds (2018) tried to recapture the magic of the fad as the decade wore on, but were unsuccessful. Love, Simon also shot here in 2018.

Stranger Things
Filming on set of Stranger Things season 2

Photograph by Jackson Davis

Stream it
Changing technology gave rise to streaming platforms halfway through the decade. On Netflix, we received several series including Stranger Things, Ozark, Insatiable, Raising Dion, and Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings. YouTube Red brought Karate Kid series Cobra Kai, while Facebook Watch’s Queen America with Catherine Zeta-Jones shot here in 2018.

Atlanta FX Donald Glover
Atlanta stars Donald Glover, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry and Lakeith Stanfield

Photograph by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Atlanta in the spotlight
Many of the films and television shows that came through in the 2010s dressed Atlanta up as other cities. We’ve played the role of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Miami, among others. But on rare occasions, the city shined as itself. Donald Glover’s FX series Atlanta gave the country a deep cut into the city’s culture beginning in 2016. Mother’s Day (2016) used Atlanta as a backdrop. Edgar Wright fell so in love with Atlanta while making Baby Driver (2017) that he changed the script to take place here.

We’d like to thank the Academy
We had our share of productions recognized for Golden Globes and Academy Awards. First Man (2018), Selma (2014), I, Tonya (2017), Hidden Figures (2016), Sully (2016), Passengers (2016), Black Panther (2018), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018) were all nominated for various categories. Many of those filmed walked away with at least one win as well. On the television side, Atlanta, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things have all been nominated for Emmys.

Tyler Perry Studios opening Atlanta
Tyler Perry gives interviews at the opening of his new studio.

Photograph by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios

Tyler Perry’s empire
While the previous decade was Tyler Perry’s breakout period, the 2010s were when he cemented his empire. Perry produced films and television programs like clockwork; The Haves and the Have Nots has run since 2013. Love Thy Neighbor was in production from 2013 until 2018. For Better or Worse ran between 2011 and 2013. At the same time, Perry was created countless films including A Madea Christmas (2013), BOO! A Madea Halloween (2016), Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013), and The Single Moms Club (2014). He said goodbye to his signature character in 2019’s A Madea Family Funeral and opened Tyler Perry Studios in Southwest Atlanta, the only black-owned major studio in the country, in October with a star-studded gala that included Oprah, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sidney Poitier.

A world of reality TV
Of course, low-cost production attracted plenty of unscripted concepts as well. Reality TV started off the 2010s with season three of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle aired from 2011 to 2017. Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta shined the spotlight on Bridals by Lori from 2011 until 2018. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo defined TLC television in the first half of the decade.

Will Hollywood boycott after Georgia's anti-abortion law?
Actress Frances Fisher, of Titanic and HBO series Watchmen, speaks during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol.

Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Uncertain Futures
It wasn’t all unprecedented growth and megaprojects throughout the 2010s. Three times throughout the decade, the Gold Dome and Hollywood butted heads over political matters. Each time, talks of a potential film industry boycott surrounded controversial legislation.

The first conflict came to a head in 2016, when HB 757, a “religious liberty bill,” made it all the way to then-governor Nathan Deal’s desk. A veto blocked the legislation, halting threatened film industry backlash. Again in 2018, a similar bill, SB 375, gained traction before eventually languishing in the House.

The biggest threat to the industry came this year after the passing of HB 481, the “heartbeat bill.” The wake of HB 481 brought of protests, actors including Jason Bateman and Alyssa Milano expressing desire to not work in Georgia, and a huge mobilization of career crewmembers attempting to save their local industry. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state, and in October, a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect in January while it is challenged in court.

The Texans are coming: Why you should be excited for Buc-ee’s and Alamo Drafthouse

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Buc-ee's
A Buc-ee’s in Fort Worth, Texas

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

Imagine if you had to move far away from Atlanta, say, to Vermont, far beyond the reach of Waffle House’s smothered and covered hash browns at 2:00 a.m., Chick-fil-A waffle fries, a Frosted Orange from the Varsity, and any other local treasures. Now, imagine how excited you’d be when just about everything listed above announced it was setting up shop in your new town.

That’s how expat Texans feel right now in Atlanta, with the announcement of two major beloved businesses—Buc-ee’s and Alamo Drafthouse—poised to open their first Georgia locations in the near future.

On paper, Buc-ee’s seems like an unusual thing to be excited about. It’s just a gas station. Well, it would be just a gas station, expect that it’s massive. In the case of Georgia’s first location, which recently broke ground in Warner Robins at I-75 and Russell Parkway, there will be 116 gas pumps and 53,000-square feet of retail space. Buc-ee’s also boasts large, immaculately clean bathrooms that must be seen to be believed. Oh, and don’t call it a truck stop. It’s literally not: Buc-ee’s doesn’t allow big rigs at most of its locations.

Buc-ee's
Buc-ee’s mascot, Bucee the Beaver, can be purchased on everything.

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

While Buc-ee’s may be designed for pit-stops on long road trips, it’s also a destination unto itself. 53,000 square feet is bigger than the average Best Buy. Inside, you’ll find the company’s beaver mascot slapped on just about everything money can buy including shirts, balls, sunglasses, mugs, pajamas, towels, blankets; you get the idea. There’s also enough Southern decor—think cowhide rugs and driftwood signs with inspirational sayings—inside to put a twang on even a New Englander’s accent. Love it, or love it ironically, you’ll find yourself killing an hour so browsing the shop.

Buc-ee's
Cow merch at Buc-ee’s

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

Buc-ee'sAnd that’s only half the store—the rest is food. Walls of trail mix, jerky, and “Beaver Nuggets,” a sweet corn-puff-based snack, supplement the usual candies and sodas of a convenience store. In the center of it all, a food court sells barbecue sandwiches, fudge, baked goods, and Texas kolaches. The Czech snack, popular throughout Texas, comes in sweet and savory varieties. The sweet is reminiscent of a Danish, and while you could think of the savory variety as a “pig in a blanket,” with a full-sized sausage, sweet bread, cheese, and even jalapeno slices, this little piggy is more like a feral hog.

Buc-ee's
Kolaches at Buc-ee’s

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

Buc-ee's
A wall of trail mix at Buc-ee’s

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

The Warner Robins location is set to open in 2020, and that may not be the only Buc-ees headed for the greater metro area. A Texas Monthly journalist noted in a cover story earlier this year that he saw company expansion plans completely encircle the city, meaning you could soon see the friendly face of Bucee the Beaver cutting through the darkness of the freeway no matter how you pass through town. (Speculators have theorized Villa Rica and Dalton as possible spots for new locations.)

Buc-ee's
The iconic Bucee sign shines like a beacon from the highway.

Photograph by Matt Walljasper

Meanwhile, Georgia’s first Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is set to join Assembly, a planned mixed-use development in Doraville on the site of the former General Motors plant. Already the theater chain has expanded far from its Austin, Texas roots, setting up outposts across the country from Los Angeles to New York. Theaters have opened in Raleigh and Orlando, making Atlanta a no-brainer market. But in an age where many metro Atlanta theaters have reclining plush seats and full bars, what makes Alamo truly special is its programming. In addition to first-run new releases, theaters often host Saturday morning cartoon screenings (complete with milk and cereal), musical sing-a-longs, classic films, and cult favorites. Before each screening, audiences are treated to short sketches, animations, and other curated content tailored to each film rather than the pre-canned Coca-Cola commercials, trivia, and first looks at things you don’t really care about. It’s more DragonConTV than “Let’s All Go to the Lobby.” Additionally, cinephiles will love picking up print copies of Birth. Movies. Death., the chain’s in-house film magazine.

Alamo Drafthouse
An Alamo Drafthouse in New York during a special Deadpool 2 screening.

Photograph by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Espolon

The theater also serves food, and if you’re immediately thinking of CinéBistro or Studio Movie Grill (the latter also is originally from Texas), know that Alamo isn’t even on the same level. Theaters have been known to create film-specific pairings and tailor its menus to each Drafthouse, using local ingredients and regional specialties. For example, in Lubbock, Texas you can get a hatch green chili cheeseburger. Northern Virginia has crab cakes. Minneapolis-St. Paul has cheese curds. At this point, we’re almost expecting Atlanta’s to offer fried green tomatoes.

Most importantly, the chain has a zero-tolerance policy for interrupting screenings. No talking, no cell phone use, nothing. A PSA before each film informs you that you’ll get one warning. A second infraction gets you kicked out. Don’t even think of complaining either, because the theater can and will use what you say to mock you, as witnessed in this viral voicemail left back in 2011.

Texans in Atlanta were lucky well before these two heavy hitters announced their arrival; several other well-known Texan businesses arrived in Georgia in recent years. Chuy’s Tex-Mex, originally from Austin, has three locations in Dunwoody, Kennesaw, and Alpharetta. Velvet Taco, from Dallas, recently opened an Atlanta outpost in Buckhead, bringing a new-late night option to bar-goers. The Lone Star State’s offerings are legion, even going back to nationwide dinosaur-aged chains such as Chili’s and On the Border, which started out in Texas in the 70s and 80s respectively.

But the crown jewel of Texan businesses has yet to make significant progress into the state. Whataburger, the 24-hour regional fast-food chain that is so revered in Texas that the legislature declared it a state treasure, has no immediate plans to launch into Atlanta. Currently, only one store sits in Georgia in Thomasville, just 15 miles from the Florida panhandle where there are numerous locations. The closest restaurants to Atlanta lie in Birmingham, Alabama, roughly two hours away. In June, to the ire of some Texans, a majority stake of Whataburger was purchased by Chicago-based BDT Capital Partners, who will focus on the chain’s long-term growth and expansion. When asked via email about plans for Atlanta, Whataburger would only say that they’re focusing on expansion within their 10-state footprint for now. And technically, because of Thomasville, Georgia is one of those 10 states. I think I speak for all of the Texans living in Atlanta when I quote Dumb and Dumber’s Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

What’s filming in Atlanta now? WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Queen of Soul, The Tomorrow War, and more

What's filming in Atlanta now?

It’s the annual slow holiday period for the Hollywood of the South, but there were still a few fun projects shooting throughout December. Here’s what we saw and where we saw it:

Disney+ is currently shooting two series, both for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in Atlanta. New this month, WandaVision (CLIFFORD) has been spotted south of town. Shooting under the working title Big Red, the Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany-led set up signs near the Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale on December 5. Signs were also spotted near Starrs Mill. Between December 12 and 13, filming took place at a home in Newnan. WandaVision also stars Kat Dennings, Kathryn Hahn, Randall Park, and Teyonah Parris.

The other Disney+ MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TT) continued from November. Signs were posted along Jimmy Carter Boulevard and I-85 on December 4. The next day, crews worked at Fulton County Airport-Brown Field. A large scene was set up in downtown Griffin, with shooting taking place between December 15 and 17.

While the Aretha Franklin biopic Queen of Soul (QOS) continued filming in December, we didn’t see any signs around town. Interestingly enough, however, the National Geographic (Nat Geo TV) series Genius: Aretha (AF), has been spotted instead. This is the third installment in the Genius anthology; the first season focused on Albert Einstein and the second on Pablo Picasso. As you may have guessed, the third is all about the Queen of Soul. Crews were set up in downtown East Point on December 4. On the 10th, filming took place at Marietta Square. Most recently, on December 16, the production worked in Norcross.

Another hold-over from last month, Chris Pratt’s The Tomorrow War (BONEYARD) filmed west of Atlanta off of Campbellton Road on December 3. On December 8, the sci-fi film was downtown, near Centennial Olympic Park. Crews were again spotted in the same area on December 16. The Tomorrow War also stars Yvonne Strahovski and J.K. Simmons.

The DC Universe series Doom Patrol (GRANT) also continued filming. Mainly shooting in Conyers, the series was spotted on December 5, 6, 16, and 17.

The CW’s Black Lightning (SIGN) had a basecamp set up on Paper Mill Road in East Cobb, between Johnson Ferry Road and Woodland Drive on December 5. Filming also took place in Decatur on December 12 and 17.

FOX’s The Resident (TR) filmed in Conyers on December 3. A basecamp was spotted in Marietta off of Franklin Gateway on the 9th. Additional scenes were shot in Conyers on December 13, 18, and 19.

Also this month, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (EEE) worked out of Pinewood Atlanta Studios between December 9 and 13, as well as from the 18th to the 20th. The HBO series Lovecraft Country (RP) shot in Tucker between December 5 and 7, and on the 17th. Freaky Friday the 13th (FF13) was spotted at Gwinnett Place Mall on December 3 and in Southwest Atlanta near Tyler Perry Studios on December 4. Amazon’s Underground Railroad (UGRR) had signs up near Covington on GA 36 on December 19. The CW’s Dynasty (CROSS EYE) posted signs at Chamblee Tucker Road and I-85 on December 4 and filmed in Norcross between December 10 and 11.

It’s not only been a great year for movies and television shows in Georgia, it’s been a great decade. As we approach 2020, here’s hoping to many more years of production all throughout the state.

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