'Walking Dead' TV series to film at Newnan High

By ELIZABETH MELVILLE elizabeth@newnan.com Newnan City Council Tuesday approved a request to film portions of the AMC network series "The Walking Dead" in early July for four days at Newnan High School and the surrounding school campus. Council's approval is contingent on Michael Riley, the location manager, working closely with city police and the neighbors who will be affected by filming to minimize their inconvenience.
Riley agreed to the stipulations. The location manager came before the city council Tuesday afternoon to explain the scope of filming in Newnan. Riley said that the series was "very successful for AMC last year," and will be filming in Georgia for its second season. Film crews will finish filming in metro Atlanta this week and then move to the Newnan/ Coweta County area. Filming will continue locally -- especially in Senoia -- through November, he said. "The economic impact will be substantial," said Riley. "The Walking Dead" is a post-apocalyptic science fiction series involving zombies. Survivors are traveling through mayhem to search for safety, according to Riley. Film crews most recently obtained approval from the Coweta County School System to use the Newnan High School gymnasium for filming. Riley said that they plan to film at that location July 7 and 8 and July 11 and 12. Site preparation will begin around July 1. Filming will take place during the day and some nights. A base camp will be set up nearby. In the scene, according to Riley, survivors run into a hoard of zombies at the high school, which will be staged to look like an abandoned FEMA camp. "It will be a fairly large piece of work," he said. Riley said that his company passed out around 100 letters to the surrounding neighborhoods to give residents a heads up. They only received one phone call in response. Riley has also made contact with the Newnan Police Department to include them on the project. Mayor Keith Brady explained that the nighttime filming is what "upsets residents." During night filming, the production company will be using bright lights similar to those found around a football stadium, admitted Riley. That filming could take place between the hours of 7 p.m. and 3-4 a.m. "The people most impacted by us, we'll make accommodations for them to make it a little more comfortable," said Riley. Brady requested that they get with city staff to explain exactly where the lights are going to be pointed. He also requested a detailed schedule for filming. "We appreciate the movie industry here," said Brady. "We like to work with you, but when you leave, the citizens are still going to be here -- and we want them happy." Riley agreed to work with the city to facilitate their requests. He also warned that there could be simulated gunfire during some scenes. He asked to review the sound ordinances with the city to have discussions about the expected disturbances. "This is obviously a sensitive issue," said Riley. "We will do our due diligence to notify folks and work with the city to make this a good experience for everybody." A police officer and Councilman George Alexander both vouched for Riley saying that they familiarized themselves with his work while he was filming on Greenville Street for another film project. "When they filmed in my neighborhood, the citizens were extremely pleased with Riley and how his crew operated," said Alexander. Councilman Ray DuBose reiterated his expectations that the film crew be "sensitive to the needs of citizens." "We're excited to have a movie company here, but we want to have a happy compromise."


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