Photograph by Matt Walljasper
It seems as though nothing, not even the collapse of our crumbling infrastructure can stop Georgia’s film production juggernaut. The industry is just as powerful as ever, bringing new projects to our city every month. Atlanta’s positively buzzing with little yellow filming signs (or occasionally, red, as evidenced by the photo above) pollinating our street corners. So while you’re stuck on the freeway, be it to get around I-85, though Braves gameday traffic, or simply enduring bad weather, be sure to keep an eye out for the filming signs dotting the exits. Here’s what we saw this month:
Yet another YA novel is getting the film treatment in Atlanta. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (production code: BLUE), originally penned by local author Becky Albertalli, has been shooting for the past month. Starring Nick Robinson, Alexandra Shipp, and Jennifer Garner, the coming-of-age film follows Simon (Robinson), a closeted gay high school junior who is blackmailed by another student when caught trading online messages with a boy who goes by the pseudonym “Blue” (hence the production code). Though production just wrapped, we first saw signs toward the end of March at a basecamp on Northside Drive and Peachtree Battle Road. For the first week in April, filming moved to Grady High School in Midtown. On April 10, Dancing Goats Coffee Bar served as a set with nearby Yaarab Shrine as a basecamp. The next day, crews moved to Brookhaven, working near Oglethorpe University. More recently, scenes were shot in Norcross at Lilian Webb Park. This past weekend, signs were spotted in Midtown near Bezoria.
If you thought you caught a glimpse of Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, or Alison Sudol anytime in the past month, you just might have. All three were in town for The Last Full Measure (PITS). No, this isn’t the Mike Ehrmantraut movie we’ve secretly been wanting; it’s instead about a young Pentagon investigator (played by Stan) navigating political waters. He aims to see a Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Air Force medic William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr. (“Pits”), who gave his life saving over 60 Marines during the Vietnam War. Keeping very busy this April, The Last Full Measure began the month in Inman Park on the 1st. On April 4, production moved up to Marietta, using the Marietta National Cemetery as a backdrop for filming. Additional signs were placed at I-75 and South Marietta Parkway. Three days later, everything moved to Powder Springs, and two days after that, on April 9, filming was back ITP with signs spotted at Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon Avenue. The next week would be just as erratic, shooting at Druid Hills Golf Club, at an office building near Perimeter Mall, and on the Silver Comet trail in a five-day span. April 16 took crews to Paulding County Airport, and between the 20th and 21st, they were downtown at the Gold Dome. Most recently, signs were seen in Old Fourth Ward.
Did you think we were done with YA books becoming movies? Apparently not. Adapted from the series written by Alexandra Bracken, Darkest Minds (PSI) follows Ruby, a teenage girl who develops super powers after a pandemic kills most of the country’s youth. The film brings with it Gwendoline Christie, Mandy Moore, and Amandla Stenberg. Darkest Minds began shooting in Brookhaven on the 3rd. More PSI signs were spotted in Conyers on April 5, and in Morrow on the 10th. On April 18, crews worked again in Brookhaven, shooting off Club Drive. The next day more signs were spotted at Memorial Drive and 2nd Avenue. On April 20, crews worked at the Knights Inn in Forest Park.
But it wouldn’t all be coming-of-age tales, brooding YA post-apocalypses, or serious drama this month—we also had some good old-fashioned comedy. Starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Jesse Plemons, Game Night (S&K), a film about a group of “game night” friends trying to solve a murder mystery, began shooting in Marietta. On April 11, a basecamp was spotted in west Midtown, just off the Connector. Two days later, crews were in Alpharetta. They wouldn’t stray far for the rest of the month, shooting at The Manor Golf and Country Club in Milton until April 21.
Keep an eye open for Amazon’s newest show, Lore (PEARL), based on the podcast of the same name. This unscripted series will look at paranormal activity and strange, dark historical events. If you’re not afraid of no ghost, signs were found in Old Fourth Ward on April 17.
Also this month, we saw Oprah’s Greenleaf (GL) on Best Friend Road in Norcross on March 29 and at the Biltmore Hotel in Midtown on April 11. Pitch Perfect 3 (FRANCE) wrapped up some studio shots in Norcross between April 1 and 2. AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire (HCF) just began filming its final season with a basecamp on Northside Drive and Peachtree Battle Road on April 5. Escape Plan 2 (EP2) signs were seen on 14th Street on April 11. Kevin Spacey’s Manifesto (MAN) pilot was in Douglasville on March 27. Den of Thieves (DoT) had a basecamp downtown in the Gulch on March 28. Stranger Things (BRIDE) continued production, popping up in Riverdale between April 3 and 4.
And finally this week, we lied to you. At the beginning of this post, we mentioned that nothing seemed to be able to slow down the unstoppable Georgia film production market. Heck, in the past year, we’ve had to fight off blistering heat, cold, rain, and political controversy that threatened the state’s industry. But Monday, the one thing that actually could lead to a slow down happened—the Writers’ Guild of America voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. Talks have been going on for the past month between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to no avail. As it stands, the current contracts will expire on May 1. If no deal has been reached at the negotiating table, then we’ll mostly likely see a writing shutdown the following day. In Georgia, you won’t see an immediate effect—things already written will still shoot and money will continue to flow in. But if the strike continues, new seasons of television shows (The Walking Dead, Halt and Catch Fire, MacGyver, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow, etc.) likely won’t return on time. A few months down the line, we could see fewer movies than normal, too. Make no mistake, a WGA strike will hurt Georgia’s economy; don’t expect another $7 Billion year if one happens. In the meantime, all we can do is watch, and hope that there’s a breakthrough quickly—like, in the next week.
HALT is currently filming and writing–a strike could be potentially catastrophic to the final season. But the issues are THAT important.
— Christopher Cantwell (@ifyoucantwell) April 25, 2017
Update 5/2/17: Thankfully, the Writers’ Guild of America and the the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a last-minute agreement on Monday evening, so Georgia’s film industry is still safe for now.