Farmers, finely dressed ladies and gentlemen, cheerleaders and Hollywood stars will all flock to the Historic Courthouse today as Covington plays host to yet another movie — "Footloose."
The first of a three-day shoot for a courthouse scene in "Footloose" will bring traffic detours, hundreds of extras and thousands of dollars in revenue to Newton County.
"Covington is one of those towns we use all the time and put it out there all the time. It’s one of our top communities," said Lee Thomas, director of the film division at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Thomas said it’s difficult to estimate how much a company will spend during a shoot, but she said many shows will spend more than $100,000 per day for shoots. In addition to hiring a couple hundred paid extras at more than $8 per hour and signing a $13,500 contract with Newton County to rent the courthouse, local chamber Tourism Director Clara Deemer said productions also need to hire security, purchase supplies and pay for food and lodging.
"The original fee is the contract fee and that is just for use of the building - not the security, not supplies they might have to get, not the food they buy, or the immense amount of coffee. And this is just the crew I'm talking about," said Hosanna Fletcher, the county's executive administrative coordinator. The crew has been preparing for Friday's shoot since Tuesday.
Residents should be prepared for intermittent traffic detours on portions of Clark and Monticello streets around the square during filming, said Terry Savage, with Covington's transportation department. Filming will take place Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. The Friday evening shoot from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. is the only time the portions of Clark and Monticello streets will be completely closed.
Filming will continue Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Savage said. Intermittent interruptions should not last more than 10 minutes, and the city does not allow them during rush hour or when school buses are running in the morning and afternoon. He said the detours are necessary because traffic noise is too difficult to filter out during filming.
Covington will continue to attract numerous films because of Georgia's increasing prominence in the filming world.
"Georgia has the entire package film companies are looking for: a built-in crew and industry base, a wide diversity of scenery, geography and locations; a definitive change of seasons yet temperate climate; easy accessibility from anywhere through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and, of course, aggressive tax incentives," said Alison Tyrer, director of communications for the GDED. "Once companies film here and find out how accessible and easy-to-use our assets are, they find reasons to come back."
In addition, the GDED will soon unveil a new camera-ready initiative in October; Covington and 15 other communities will be awarded "camera-ready" status.
"The large numbers of projects that have shot in the area are a good indication that productions have had good experiences there - otherwise there wouldn't be that kind of repeat business," Tyrer said. "We have always had great cooperation from both the city and county - that means a lot to a production company that is new to an area...Covington is certainly ‘camera-ready' in every sense of the word."
Thomas said Newton County is so popular because it has both small town scenes and plenty of rural locations, including historic plantations like Gaithers. She said that movie productions tend to use unions, which often contract to work in a 30-mile zone. For productions based in Atlanta, Covington can sell the rural aspect while remaining within that zone.