Tag Archives: TV shows filmed in Atlanta

3 Pieces of Advice from a Hollywood Publicist in Georgia

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Denise Godoy

Denise Godoy is an on-set publicist for movies and TV shows. She spoke on a panel last week in Atlanta about film and TV production in Georgia, a booming business with “The Hunger Games” sequels, “The Walking Dead” and lots more. (Read my post from the event, put on by the Public Relations Society of America’s Georgia chapter.)

I saved a little morsel Godoy shared because I thought it deserved its own space — even if you’re nowhere near show business.

“The big three lessons I’ve learned is, first, answer your emails. Even if it’s just to say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that but I will get back to you.’ You really want to be perceived as being an effective and communicative person.

“No. 2, Don’t take things personally. I get yelled at every day and trust me, it has nothing to do with me … The director’s in a bad mood, I’m in the way of the wardrobe department…

“The third is to not be emotional. This is your job, that’s it. There’s no emotions involved,” she said, wrapping it up with, yep, a movie quote. “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Good advice? What do you think?

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Money, Katniss and Grits: 6 Insider Bits on Georgia Movie, TV Production

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Part of the movie was filmed on sets inside the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.

Call it the Hollywood of the South or, better yet, Y’allywood.

We’ve all watched as Georgia became a hub for film and TV production in the last few years. At the movies, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing shots of Piedmont Park and the Midtown skyline, and films being shot here like “The Blind Side,” “42” and “The Hunger Games” sequels. From TV, we might bump into stars from “The Walking Dead” or “Drop Dead Diva” at Whole Foods.

On Thursday, I attended a panel discussion on the topic hosted by the Georgia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Here are a half-dozen takeaways.

  • Hollywood’s economic impact here grew from $244 million in 2011 to $4 billion last year, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner in the state Department of Economic Development’s film division.
  • Currently, 16 series, two pilots, two movies-of-the-week and 11 feature films are in production in the state, she said.
  • The tipping points: economic incentives,  “The Hunger Games” sequels (which required their own huge sound stages) and…
  • The Walking Dead, AMC, zombie, apocalypse, Doug Fick, art director, sets, Atlanta, TV show, prison, Woodbury, filmed in Atlanta, TV shows and movies filmed in Georgia, Katniss, Hunger Games, Catching Fire

    Hey, that skyline looks familiar…

    … “The Walking Dead,” the hugely popular series about hordes of flesh-eating zombies that’s filmed mostly outdoors just south of Atlanta and has spawned tours for fans. “That show is a monster — literally,” said co-panelist Rodney Ho of the AJC.

  • Its creator provided the soundbite du jour, via Thomas. “Frank Darabont described Atlanta as The Devil’s Hot Tub.” (Read my interview with the show’s art director.)
  • James Anderson, of Turner and The Cartoon Network, worked for years in “the business” in LA and remembers a  bellwether Variety article pointing out “runaway productions” to the place Down South where people “eat shrimp and grits.” Now here for going on nine years, he works with, among many others, the Atlanta-born Adult Swim.

On-set publicist Denise Godoy shared advice so good and universal that I’m saving it for a later post. (Here it is.)

The discussion’s moderator was my friend and fellow movie lover Stephen Brown, incoming president of PRSA Georgia, managing director at Cohn & Wolfe and critic at SilverScreenCapture.com.

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What’s His Story: Behind the Scenes of ‘The Walking Dead’ with the Art Director of the Zombie Apocalypse

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Doug Fick on the prison set of “The Walking Dead” / Photo by Gene Page, AMC

UPDATE: Zombies, Katniss lead Georgia productions

Doug Fick of Decatur had a long career as a high-end carpenter of cabinets and millwork before his first foray into show business, as art director on a horror movie filmed in metro Atlanta. That led to a gig on the first episode of “The Walking Dead,” designing the inside of a tank —  where a survivor of the zombie apocalypse found the briefest respite, on a street in downtown Atlanta. Fick stayed beyond that and rose to the rank of art director. The show is filmed south of Atlanta, and Fick runs the art department, an in-house architectural firm that constructs the sets, which on this show can become integral to the gruesome story – like the prison-cum-refugee-camp and the town of Woodbury. I got to talk with him recently, as Season 4 heads into the homestretch.

The zombie apocalypse doesn’t just happen: I work under the production designer, who sets the look of the surroundings that we’re in. He comes up with the concepts, and I’m responsible for managing the process of getting them realized. We consult with wardrobe, the stunts, the set decorators and other departments, so everybody is on the same page. Everything is collaborative in the film industry.

Always on the run, with the characters: This is a big scale for a TV show, cinematic and ambitious. We move around a lot on locations, where we have to deal with the weather and we make sure the crew moves in and out without damaging the locations.

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Star Andrew Lincoln, right, meets an undead soldier inside the tank that was Fick’s first project on “The Walking Dead.”

His sets help tell the story: The prison especially was a huge undertaking. We were there long enough that it became a character, and that’s really exciting when you’re working on something and it becomes that integral to the story.

The fences were really a big part of my life. I was the one who dealt with getting them put up and keeping them standing. The (zombie) extras put a lot of stress on them. The extras were very enthusiastic.

Keeping it safe when zombies fall through the roof: I enjoy the technical and engineering challenges, like the roof falling in on the first episode this season. That was shot in several spots. We had an actual store that we dressed on the exterior, and then had extras on the roof on the day we shot. The helicopter was put in digitally, and most of the damage on the roof. We dressed the interior that we created on (the nearby soundstage). The big part of that job was hanging a rig overhead that we could drop people through.

That was really a fun project. You create an environment for the actors to play in and they use it in ways that you don’t expect sometimes. You never know exactly what’s going to happen. The one thing you always have to know is that it’s going to be safe.

It was really a horrific place when the day was done, with fake blood everywhere. It was quite a mess to clean up, but it looked great.

Season 4 has just two episodes left to air. Fick is, of course, tight-lipped. No spoilers from this guy. Filming resumes in the spring. When I read the first script of the series, I thought, ‘I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch this.’ It was so grim. But that’s part of the appeal. If it wasn’t, I don’t think the show would work…. It’s gratifying to see people enjoying the show.

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