Lights, Camera, Action!

Television and movie productions are flocking to the state of Georgia. They swoon over the state’s steep production tax credit, a deep pool of talented professionals, and an astounding array of breathtaking landscapes and architecture. In 2015 alone, productions generated an economic impact of $6 billion for the state. 

Sleepy Hollow used the ruins of the Bruce Street School for a recent production.

Sleepy Hollow used the ruins of the Bruce Street School for a recent production.

Increasingly, projects are popping up in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. The City of Lithonia has been the site of some noteworthy recent productions. Do you know that the Fox series Sleepy Hollow was filmed at the Bruce Street School Ruins? This granite building shell once housed a school for African-American students from 1938 through the 1960s. Can you imagine that the movie comedy Dumb and Dumber To was filmed near the Lithonia Plaza? It’s not a joke! 

City of Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson lauds this recent spate of productions. “Having movies filmed in the city is very exciting,” says Jackson. “The increased traffic creates great opportunities for our local businesses to get additional exposure and support.” She foresees a promising future for the City of Lithonia’s role in the film industry. “Given the historic character of our city, we believe there is tremendous potential to have more film projects and are working to be known as a Camera Ready Community.” 

The historic Housworth Homeplace has been used in several productions including The Vampire Diaries

The Housworth Homeplace in the Klondike National Register Historic District has been used as the set for several productions, including the popular CW Network television show Vampire Diaries. Owner David McMullins offers some tips if you’re approached about film crews using your property or home:  

  • Be very clear about what crews are able to do. They may request painting walls, changing landscaping, or even spraying pesticides. Make sure it is all spelled out in a written agreement and that you feel comfortable giving permission for the temporary alterations. 
  • Inspect your property before and after the filming and ask production managers to correct or fix anything that is out of order. Sometimes, their changes enhance the property or correct an issue. You can ask them to leave the changes in place, too. 
  • Be sure you’re compensated for you inconvenience and any alterations to your property. 
  • Don’t visit the property during filming. It’s not worth the anxiety. Crews are usually very respectful, but if you see what happens when they’re working it can be nerve-wracking. Just remember, it’s all movie magic. 

Reality shows are also finding inspiration here. The first installment of the PBS reality series African American Lives hosted by historian Henry Louis Gates focused on comedian Chris Tucker’s ancestors in Flat Rock. That feature led to the creation of the Flat Rock Archives where you can learn more about rural African-American history and tour a slave cemetery. 

Enthusiasts have raved about the boundless beauty and sensational sites in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area for years. The television and movie industry increasingly agrees with us!