“Say Yes to The Dress Bridesmaids” stars Monte Durham and Lori Allen did their part to help keep small-town Senoia on the world map as they participated Wednesday in the day-long filming of a Toyota commercial just outside the popular Maguire’s restaurant.
The cable TV stars were seen on the Seavy Street sidewalk standing by a black Toyota Camry as they filmed take after take. Nearly two dozen production crew members and assistants crowded behind Maguire’s along Baggarly Way to keep the shoot rolling, and still more busied themselves directing pedestrian traffic and picture takers away from “the set”, which consisted of the barricaded stretch of Seavy Street between Baggarly Way and Main Street. Several Senoia Police officers and vehicles were also put to work handling security and vehicle traffic control.
Atlanta-based film production company Bark Bark shot the commercial for Toyota and the TLC cable television network.
According to sources, filming for AMC Network’s “The Walking Dead” was taking place simultaneously in the nearby town of Turin, which is located west of Senoia along Hwy. 16. Some of Senoia’s visitors Wednesday edged as close as they were allowed to the Seavy Street set and asked if it was a scene for Season Four of the popular zombie show. Disappointed, they ambled off.
One person who was not disappointed was Senoia City Administrator Richard Ferry. While “The Walking Dead” fame has brought countless tourists to Senoia, and it promises to continue its draw into the future, Ferry says having other production companies come to town is a good sign that the town’s appeal as a filming site continues to grow.
“It has been a very good thing for Senoia,” Ferry said. “Even if some productions don’t attract tourists, they will still spend money here.”
Wednesday’s film crew, says Ferry, ordered catering services from in-town restaurants. More extravagant shoots, he says, might require producers to purchase set materials and other products and services, which then gives local merchants hope of earning that business.
The City of Senoia, however, does not profit directly from local filming as some municipalities might through film permitting. While Senoia does require film producers to apply for a filming permit, there is no charge for the actual permit.
Ferry says the city does recoup its costs, though, for additional police services and anything else that costs the city money. Additionally, the city benefits from additional tax revenue when local businesses earn more income due to local filming.
“How much is it truly costing the city for them to be here?” Ferry said. “The city at the least has all of its costs covered.”
Ferry explained that the permitting process not only ensures the city will be reimbursed for any expenses related to the filming activities, but it also helps the city regulate the activities of film producers choosing to shoot scenes in the historic City of Senoia. If, for example, a company is approved to film scenes on one particular city street, they are not allowed to arbitrarily change filming locations, potentially causing unexpected access inconveniences in other parts of the city.
“Quality of life is a big thing for us,” Ferry said. “We can’t inconvenience the residents.”
Fans of “The Walking Dead” have made a sport of hunting down filming locations in the area. Stalwart Films, which produces the show, has a current filming permit allowing them to block certain streets in Historic Downtown Senoia in mid-July, but as of earlier in the week, city officials still did not know what days or how many days to expect filming, which typically takes place on the lower portion of Main Street.
“The Walking Dead” is touted as the most popular cable television show. Set in the days after a zombie apocalypse, the show is based on survivors trying to survive while zombies try to eat them. The show has been given an adult rating because of its language, sexual situations and graphic violence.