NORTH FULTON, Ga. – North Fulton has experienced an influx of filmmaking and a taste of the Hollywood life ever since filmmakers began receiving tax incentives for shooting their projects in Georgia. All the more exciting, Alpharetta has played host to a few big ticket films, granting local citizens the exhilarating privilege of spotting Hollywood stars such as Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in their own backyard.
But filmmaking incorporates so much more than famous actors. As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. The world of modern cinema takes this notion to new heights with its complex camera work, computer-generated imagery and special effects. Audiences can appreciate the intricacies of cinematography, but what seems to escape the attention of many is the complexity and detail that goes into pre-production of a film. I joined local Producer/Director Ken Farrington of Vision-X Productions, in association with Twin Pilot Films, to unveil just what happens before the camera ever starts rolling.
At our first meeting, I convened with Ken and Production Manager Hayley Polak for a day of location scouting, where the production team takes the time to root out the best sites for shooting movie scenes. I did not know what to expect as I wandered into the elegant marble lobby of one of Alpharetta’s medical centers, but we had gathered to view the demo room. Given that Ken’s upcoming film involves many medical scenes, the demo room was perfect for our purposes.
“Whenever you’re filming, you’re always looking for [a set] that will over-sell the effect,” Ken told me as we walked toward the demo room, where we discovered medical O.R. lights as well as several hospital beds. In films, you have your “master shot,” which establishes the location within the story as well as sets the mood for the upcoming scene.
Location scouting and master shots are utterly dependent on the overall disposition of the film and involve several different factors. The production team has to make sure a desired location will be available to them within their filming time frame. Cost, location provisions and ambient noise all play part in the process of determining whether a specific location will be used in a film. There is a careful balance to having all the right factors in place.
“We need to have contingencies and back-ups and alternatives,” Hayley told me as we roamed the hallways of a local hospital.
“You want to see as many locations as possible so you feel like you covered your ground,” Ken agreed before scouting the hospital’s helipad. We covered a good deal of the hospital itself and took countless pictures for reference. Another important aspect to location scouting is documenting each site in order to remember its assets later on.
Now that location scouting is nearly finished, Ken and Hayley will take a step back to do just that, as they decide which sites best suit the mood of their upcoming film. One certain thing, however, is that Alpharetta can look forward to the excitement of having another movie filmed in its own backyard.