Fans flocking to Senoia to watch 'Walking Dead' filmingBy ALEX MCRAE
Zombies from AMC TV’s hit series “The Walking Dead” aren’t the only pedestrians crowding the streets of downtown Senoia these days.
Crowds of curious fans are also filling the streets during filming. At Monday’s meeting of the Senoia City Council, town officials and Police Chief Jason Edens discussed the situation with an eye towards insuring safety for both filmmakers and fans.
Curious fans eager to glimpse their favorite actors in action are creating traffic and parking problems, Edens told the council. He said large groups of pedestrians moving around to follow the shooting are not always paying close attention to traffic and at times cause both congestion and safety concerns.
“They’re walking in the roads and not paying attention and the roads are being clogged,” Edens said. The chief expressed concerns that public safety could be compromised and asked the council for guidance on how to deal with the matter without being hostile to the crowds that also bring a lot of business to downtown merchants.
Mayor Robert Bellisle thanked Edens for the thoughtful way his officers had treated people visiting town to watch film productions, but insisted that public safety not be compromised at any time and advised Edens to use his judgment to assure a good outcome for everyone.
“If you see a public safety issue that needs to be addressed, take care of it,” Bellisle said.
Another “Walking Dead” issue was also on the agenda Monday night. Michael Riley, of Stalwart Films, who serves as location manager for “The Walking Dead,” approached the council and asked for permission in advance to block portions of certain streets to facilitate filming.
Riley explained that crews often found it necessary to move beyond the physical filming boundaries already approved by council to film shots from a reverse point of view further down the street, or across the street. He asked for permission to make these small changes — which are often shot in the same day — without coming back before the council for approval.
Currently, Senoia has approved certain areas of downtown for use in TV and film productions. If new locations are sought, they are presented to the city council for approval. Riley thanked the council for their cooperation and quick consideration of earlier requests but said that the minor changes he was asking for often needed to be done quickly and said that having advance approval for such changes could speed the filming process.
Riley presented the council with specific areas of downtown Senoia where crews would like permission to film without coming back to the council for approval. Mayor Bellisle said if show producers could go door-to-door and get “one hundred percent buy-in” from those whose property could be affected, the request would be honored.
“Otherwise, you’ll have to bring it back to us,” Bellisle said, promising to move as quickly as possible to consider such a request.