As the Vampire Diaries cast and crew returns to Covington and is set to begin filming in July, local Molly Bachtel is offering fans a chance to relive the first season in real life.
Looking for an opportunity to share her love of the show, and make an extra buck or two, Bachtel is offering a series of guided tours to take fans around to most of the famous sites from season one.
"I totally got sucked in accidentally. I work at Oxford College, and they filmed a little bit in the library … I just went online to watch the episode filmed at the college, and I got drawn into the storyline. I went back and watched the rest of the episodes," she said. "I saw them filming on the square and was talking to all the people congregated there. I was thinking I could have a tour company.
I watched all the episodes and it became a hobby for me to figure out where they filmed. So, I decided to go for it and start my own company."
Bachtel has identified at least 13 locations in and around Covington, including a couple in Monroe and Madison. She said she’s hoping to offer fans a chance to relive the episodes, not just see the sites."I want it to be a little more than ‘This is Elena’s house.’ It will be more like, ‘In episode three you saw this in this scene.’ More theatrical," she said.
Bachtel already has her website mysticfallstour.com up and running, but she said she is still waiting for the state to process the paper work for her limited liability corporation. She hopes to have Mystical Falls Tour LLC up and running by July 1.
Since she’s had her website up, she’s already received calls from fans in Florida and Virginia and even an e-mail in the Philippines.
She has four types of tours, including a tour for "Team Damon" fans and a "Jeremy’s Lost Loves" tour, ranging from the $12 per person group rate for the smallest tour to the $55 per person single rate for the longest tour. In addition to the tours, Bachtel will give T-shirts for people who love the Damon or Stephan characters. She was careful to avoid any copyright infringement, and the shirts will include Covington’s historical nickname, "Hollywood of the South." For more information, call Bachtel at (678) 588-5956.
In other Vampire Diaries news, Clara Deemer, tourism director for the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is considering creating self-guided brochures for the Vampire Diaries but have not made any final decisions. The chamber offers self-guided tour brochures for the "In the Heat of the Night" and "The Dukes of Hazzard." Deemer said the Vampire Diaries is still fairly new, so demand for a tour is only slowly beginning to increase.
In related entertainment news, Deemer said she was heading to a Georgia Municipal Association movie panel, where she would help other communities learn how to be camera ready, like Covington. The city of Covington itself has been working to revise its filming policies better to accommodate filmmakers, while also giving the Georgia Department of Transportation enough warning when filming takes place on the square and Ga. Highway 36 needs to be closed down.
In the past month, "Wanderlust," staring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, and "Footloose 2," have both looked at filming in Newton County, but chose other locations, Deemer said.