Atlanta Movie Tours: Gallery Extra
Gallery: Atlanta Movie Tour Photos [10 Images] Click any image to expand.
Article & Photos by Heather Beauchamp
If you live anywhere in Georgia, then you’ve seen or at least heard about the buzz surrounding our suddenly booming film industry. Griffin got in on the action this past winter by lending itself to the filming of a little AMC show called The Walking Dead. For those who don’t know, The Walking Dead is one of the most popular and profitable shows on television right now. People have been zombie-crazy for years, but now it seems almost everyone is infected.
Senoia, our neighboring small town just west on Highway 16, has had even more experience with hosting the hit show. In fact, the town itself had a starring role in The Walking Dead. The downtown area of Senoia was used to film the many outdoor scenes in the fictional town of Woodbury. In the show, Woodbury was a “secure” area, safe from walkers (zombies), and headed up by the power-hungry and often menacing character known as The Governor.
If you’re strolling around “Woodbury” on a weekend, chances are you’ll see a fancy white bus with the Atlanta Movie Tours logo on the side. Excited fans meet there to take a three-hour tour of locations used for shooting memorable scenes of The Walking Dead. Fans of the show are flocking from all over the world to have the experience that Atlanta Movie Tours offers them. “Ninety percent of the people who come for the tour are from out of state,” Atlanta Movie Tours co-owner Carrie Burns explains. Fans from as far away as Germany and Brazil have come to take part in the experience.
Sitting down with Carrie Burns and Patti Davis is a great experience in itself. These friends and business partners truly love the film industry and are constantly working to add more fun details and special locations to their tours. The idea came from a simple discussion about their mutual love of The Walking Dead. Carrie is a longtime resident of Castleberry Hill, an artsy loft district in Atlanta that’s been called the “Atlanta backlot” because of all the filming that takes place there. (The rooftop of the building across from their retail shop is where Merle lost his…well, we won’t spoil it.) Patti lives in Adair Park, which is about five minutes away from Castleberry Hill.
In January 2012, Carrie casually mentioned to Patti that she was showing friends around film locations for fun, and the idea to figure out a way to do that as a career came to both of them instantly. Patti laughs, “We literally incorporated the next day. We knew other people would start doing it too, and we wanted to be both the first and the best.” When asked about their biggest challenge when starting out, Carrie quickly responds, “Oh, having any idea what we were doing!” Both women burst out laughing and lean in over the table in giggles. It’s clear that these two have a camaraderie that makes running a great company even more fun.
At this point, they have more than figured out what they’re doing. With a staff of 10 tour guides and expeditors, all of whom have been extras (usually walkers) on the show, and transportation that includes 32-passenger luxury coach buses, each with six 15-inch screens, this tour is unbeatable for fans. Throughout the ride, the bus stops and lets fans off to explore the areas. Lots of photos are taken, and fun details about the show’s filming are given. While on the bus, the extremely entertaining guides talk about their experiences on the set, from what it’s like to be in full walker makeup all day to how nice the stars of the show are. The guides also throw out trivia questions for the fans and hand out swag from other projects filming in the area.
While the Big Zombie Tour Part 2 begins in Senoia, there are other options for fans of locally made films. The Big Zombie Part 1 and Atlanta Film Sites tours meet at the Atlanta Movie Tours retail shop in Castleberry Hill. The Atlanta Film Sites Tour includes stops that were used to create scenes for Anchorman 2, The Blind Side, and Gone With The Wind, among many others. (The gals don’t want to give away all the surprises.)
The idea to add a retail spot to accompany the tours came to life in April 2013. Inside the store, fans can pick up unique memorabilia from just about anything the tours feature. The merchandise ranges from posters to zombie sock hats to shirts created by The Walking Dead’s costume designer herself.
Getting started, Patti and Carrie spent a great deal of time in Senoia, meeting local business owners and building relationships. Ever since they pitched the idea of doing tours, everyone has been supportive. The only private locations on the tour are compensated, and Carrie assures that no one ever invades anyone’s privacy on the tours.
Carrie, Patti, and the rest of the staff are excited to announce a new tour joining the line-up in April. Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind Tour begins April 5th and will be their first one to feature costumed guides. The trip will start in downtown Atlanta and will stop at the Atlanta Public Library, where many of Margaret Mitchell's personal effects are stored, and the Margaret Mitchell house, among others. The ticket for this tour will also include admission to the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro and the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum.
“The most important thing to know about us is that we are fans creating tours for fans,” Patti says. “We want our guests to have an amazing experience, and we are so excited to be a part of this incredibly exciting time in our city.” Carrie adds, “This year and the ones following…there’s no telling how big it will get, and we are ready.”
They aren’t the only ones who think so. Last summer, Huffington Post listed the company as one of the “Best TV and Movie Tours Around the World.” And that’s just one of the long list of media attention and reviews listed on their website, www.atlantamovietours.com. Visit the site for details, news, and, of course, to get tickets to your tour of choice. You can also check out the retail store at 327 Nelson Avenue SW in Atlanta. (Make sure you visit The Smoke Ring around the corner for a delicious lunch or dinner!) With all this excitement happening so close to home, locals should definitely join in on the fun. Not to mention, if there ever IS an impending zombie apocalypse, we’ll need all the experience we can get.