SENOIA, Ga. — Be careful which storefronts you try to walk through if you visit Senoia, because some of them only have walls behind them. The fake bookstore, bank, law office and travel agency are all part of the fictional town of Woodbury, Georgia. It’s the setting of a zombie show called “The Walking Dead,” which is slowly taking over Senoia, Georgia. The downtown storefronts are right up against each other, and they’re pretty convincing.
“I tried to go into ‘Crabapple Books’ thinking we had a new book store in town, but that obviously wasn’t the case,” said community radio host Uncle Rich.
Zombie drama brings life to small town
A Coweta County town is reaping the rewards of the boom in the Georgia movie and TV industry.
Senoia is at the center of shooting for this season’s episodes of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead. Hundreds of fans of the show are flocking to the small town, which doubles as the town of Woodbury in the TV show.
Main Street is a focal point for shooting season three of the show. The town has several sets, including a bank, a bookstore, and a flower shop. Shooting started in May and has flooded the town with paying tourists, fans and zombie wannabes.
Police Chief Jason Edens said the commotion kept officers busy rerouting traffic around shooting and keeping movie gawkers safe.
“We’ve received calls here at the police department from Boston, New York, Philadelphia. We’ve had a couple close calls with vehicles almost striking pedestrians,” Edens told Channel 2’s Diana Davis.
Restaurants are jammed, and business in Senoia has never been better. Just a couple years ago, The Redneck Gourmet just off Main Street was struggling, but now it’s packed, according to Manager Kassy Johnson.
“There was a really bad time where we were not doing so well, but it’s definitely helped a lot. We’ve even had some of the stars come in, and the crew,” Johnson said.
On filming days, shopkeepers were asked to shutter their storefronts on Main Street. Customers entered through back doors, but they weren’t complaining. Jim Preece, the owner of an antique and gift shop, told Davis business has doubled.
“And the good thing about it is helping now and it will be helping three years down the road when people still see the show and go, ‘I want to go there,’” said Preece.
In several stores there is plenty of zombie merchandise for sale — from hats to T-shirts and zombie soap to wash off all that blood.
Senoia’s Main Street has its own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame with plaques showing the dozens of TV shows and movies shot in Senoia in the last few years.
Some of the buildings on Main Street were specially built to double as movie sets. In the last few years, the shops of Main Street have defied the odds of a tough economy, growing from seven to 47.
“There, everything you could want is here on Main Street,” shopkeeper Jenna Smith told Davis.
Location shooting should wrap up in Senoia for seasons three in November but the financial benefits are expected to continue for years.
The Walking Dead’ zombies poised to invade Senoia…
It looks like the beginnings of a theater in the vacant lot on the south side of Main Street in Senoia. But it’s not. And it looks like a revamping of the railroad complete with boxcars at Main and Gin streets. But it’s not.
Both are props for the filming of the third season of the highly rated AMC series “The Walking Dead,” set to begin shooting in town this week. These and other areas of Senoia will transform portions of the city into a sanctuary for the coming zombie apocalypse.
Speaking recently at a Senoia City Council meeting, the show’s location manager Mike Riley spoke only in general terms about the third season, though he did note that the scenario involves the city serving as a sanctuary in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
“The town is walled off,” Riley said of the storyline that has Senoia serve as the main set for the show. “Inside the wall is a the safe zone and a benevolent dictator runs the town.”
Noting some of the specifics meant to create the desired effects of the show, Riley said the crew will construct a temporary, movable wall meant to look like a gate stacked with items such as old tires and doors that can be used along the area of Main Street and Travis Street.
Though filming is expected to occur in a number of areas around the city, Riley said the area of Main Street from Seavy Street to Travis Street will serve as the main set. The set might extend from Seavy to Johnson Street, Riley added. He said the production calls for store fronts to be left as they are to lend to the impression that the city is a safe zone.
Senoia will doubtless see an influx of visitors for the filming that will extend into November. And for Senoia, the summer and fall will bring a double-dose of visitors since the Southern Living magazine 2012 Idea House located a stone’s throw away just south of Gin Street will be open from June 2 through Dec. 23.
Sunday, June 3, 2012 – 5:01pm Submitted by Ben Nelms – The Citzen