It’s hot and humid down in the South – a perfect breeding ground for walkers and the undead. And it was especially so in Atlanta, Senoia and Grantville, all in the state of Georgia, and the prime shooting locations for The Walking Dead. We were there back in July, and it was a brilliant experience.
And Our first stop was in Atlanta, where most of season 1 was filmed. Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown was kind enough to put us up for the night, and I can only say that it is a lovely, lovely hotel.
We were hosted by Atlanta Movie Tours, run by Patti Davis and Carrie Burns, which organises tours of The Walking Dead shooting locations. This is the best part – the tours are led by actual walker extras such as Patrick Williams, who led us on The Big Zombie Tour Part I. The three hour tour costs US$48.
This is where the nerdgasm starts – the tour covers spots like the department store where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and co are holed up, the hospital where Rick stumbles out after awakening from his coma, and of course, the CDC (actually the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre). Here’s the highlights.
We then drove to the small, charming town of Senoia, population 3,500, stands in for Woodbury, and basically resembles a big film set. Senoia is full of polite people with their “sirs” and “ma’ams”, and that slow, soft Southern drawl you always hear Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) talking in.
Main Street itself should look very, very familiar, given the number of times Andrea (Laurie Holden), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the Governor (David Morrissey) saunter down it.
The townsfolk regaled us with tales of everyday encounters with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). Laura Reynold, co-owner of The Veranda Historic Bed & Breakfast Inn where we stayed, told me with a chuckle: “I think Daryl just wants to be noticed.” Coincidentally, Laurie Holden actually lived in The Veranda during the filming of Season 3.
Sadly, we also saw the remnants of a major prop that had been destroyed, which clued us in to a major spoiler for Season 4. A resident even gave us a detailed description of the filming of that scene, which he personally witnessed. I won’t tell you what it is, but I can show you this.
Our most vivid experience probably came in Grantville, 45 mins drive from Senoia and the setting for, in my opinon, THE best The Walking Dead episode so far – “Clear”, a.k.a. the return of Morgan (Lennie James). We were led on a tour by Grantville mayor Jim Sells himself, who says he has seen visitors from as far away as Australia and Japan. The good mayor had personally led the tour every day, until too many people started showing. “It’s too tiring,” he told us with a wry smile. Mr Sells now does it three times a week.
We went to all the spots where they shot the episode – Morgan’s apartment, the cafe where Carl (Chandler Riggs) goes to retrieve the picture of his mom and of course, the place where Morgan burns all the walker bodies. But the people of Grantville had it even better – Mr Sells told us that at the end of each day’s filming, Andrew Lincoln would walk over to the gathered crowds, no matter how sweaty or dirty or tired he was, and spend time signing autographs.
Check back here for our upcoming posts on The Walking Dead, including interviews with Atlanta Movie Tours, Jim Sells, and Scott Tigchelaar, president and CEO of Raleigh Studios, which provided much of the sets for filming.
Viewers from South East Asia and Singapore can catch The Walking Dead on FOX Movies Premium every Sunday at 10pm. What did you think of our trip to check out the show’s shooting locations? Tell us!
Most of the images in this post were taken with a Nikon 1 V2