How Are Filming Locations Picked In Georgia?

Picturesque downtown Roswell's diversity, along with state subsidies, make it an ideal film location. Photo by Ian Palmer.
Picturesque downtown Roswell’s diversity, along with state subsidies, make it an ideal film location. Photo by Ian Palmer.

Downtown Roswell is a bustling square packed full of restaurants, shops and galleries. The surrounding city boasts lush parks and a rich urban landscape that positions it close enough to Atlanta to have quick access to city life but far enough out to steer clear of the hustle and bustle.

This diversity, combined with a healthy state tax incentive, makes cities like Roswell an ideal location for shooting movies and television shows. It’s also one of location manager Ethan Firestone’s favorites places to send a production crew.

Firestone got his start in location scouting by working on the movie “Selma.” Since then, he has worked on a slew of other film and television projects, including “MacGyver,” “The Accountant” and “Keeping Up with the Joneses.” He’s helped to transform the streets of Atlanta into New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and to turn empty city parking lots into war zones in Afghanistan.

It’s Firestone’s job to know Georgia – its landscape and attractions, its highways, its small town squares – so when productions come looking for viable places to shoot, he’s ready with a few suggestions.

“My job very largely entails trying to find something that marries a creative vision and is also logistically doable,” Firestone says. “We have to be able to bring in a film crew of anywhere from 150 to 200 people — or, if it’s a bigger Marvel-type movie, 300, 350 people.

He also has to make sure the locations he proposes have adequate parking for the entire crew, a place to put hair and makeup trailers and space for extras to get ready.

“If I find the perfect house on top of a mountain that’s exactly what a director envisioned, but it’s gravel roads all the way up, there’s no way you’d be able to get the lights and gear you need up there, the trailers, the box trucks. It doesn’t work.”

Before a project makes its way to Firestone though, production teams contact the Georgia film office and send over a screenplay or script to give the office a better idea of what the project needs.

To read more about how Ethan Firestone selects filming locations, read the full version of this article at WABE.org >

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