The Walking Dead Set Visit Part II: Zombies Invade the ATL
These days it’s a pretty rare occurrence to shoot exactly where a script is set. Vancouver doubles for New York. Montreal is London. Louisiana becomes L.A. So on and so forth. But Georgia has been making headway of late in the motion picture industry, offering a sizable tax break good enough to lure fellow horror productions Zombieland, The Crazies and Quarantine 2. When Frank Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd and AMC started putting together "The Walking Dead", Atlanta was the logical choice.
“Atlanta was just the close city, that’s really all it was,” says The Walking Dead comic creator Robert Kirkman of the setting for the series. “The opening issue takes place in Cynthiana, Kentucky, which is where I went to high school and lived a good portion of my life. At the beginning they talk about how some of the people in neighboring states would have gone to larger cities so they could fortify them and protect the population. So Atlanta’s only six hours away from where I lived, and I figured it would be like New York, Atlanta, Miami, maybe Chicago … they would protect those and kind of funnel people in there.”
“Whenever you’re producing, the best possible scenario is to film it where it’s set,” says Hurd. “And then I also had experience shooting in Atlanta on a Lifetime TV movie so I already knew the crews here were fabulous.”
On the negative side the heat index on set during our June visit pushed the temperature to over 100 degrees with humidity. “We just suck it up,” says Hurd.
“You don’t get used to the heat,” Darabont admits as he wipes sweat from his brow. “I’ve never had clothes stick to me like this in my life.”
“It’s becoming a running joke that people arrive on set ready for the day and then they are battered and beaten up by the weather,” says Lincoln. “It’s kind of the rite of passage on this job, but it’s great. It makes it real. There’s a lot of hard-earned sweat on camera. It’s not comfortable and it’s not pleasant, but it’s as you would imagine it would be trying to survive in this world.”
Fortunately the zombies don’t mind too much, and Atlanta’s got plenty of walking dead at the ready, including one of the nation’s largest zombie walks. “I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world where you could find better zombie extras,” says Gale. “They are amazing.”