Senoia to become safe zone in ‘The Walking Dead’ zombie apocalypse

Get ready for a zombie invasion in Senoia. The city that has featured prominently in the AMC series “The Walking Dead” is about to go to the next level for the show’s third season when Senoia will become the main set and a sanctuary from a zombie apocalypse.

“Walking Dead” location manager Mike Riley at the April 2 meeting of the Senoia City Council gave an overview of the third season that is now in pre-production.

“Senoia will be a major set for next season,” Riley said, adding that Raleigh Studios, also located in Senoia, will serve as the production’s other principal set while other locations in the area will play a more minor role in the production. “This (third season) is long-term. We’ll be here until November.”

Speaking only in general terms about the upcoming season, Riley the scenario involves the city serving as a sanctuary in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.

“The town is walled off,” Riley said of the storyline. “Inside the wall is a the safe zone and a benevolent dictator runs the town.”

Noting some of the specifics meant to create the desired effects of the show, Riley said the crew will construct a temporary, movable wall meant to look like a gate stacked with items such as old tires and doors that can be used along the area of Main Street and Travis Street.

Though filming is expected to occur in a number of areas around the city, Riley said the area of Main Street from Seavy Street to Travis Street will serve as the main set. The set might extend from Seavy to Johnson Street, Riley added. He said the production calls for store fronts to be left as they are to lend to the impression that the city is a safe zone.

Production is set to begin on May 31, Riley said, noting that the set location could become one that is recurring during another season if the success of the show continues.

The first episode is scheduled to begin shooting on May 31 and will continue Monday-Friday for eight days and might include some night shooting. Riley said.

Riley told council members that what the production would need is to be able to control traffic in the set area and to arrange for alternative parking for businesses and to keep them accessible to customers and for deliveries.

Riley said he had spoken with most of the merchants in the set area to explain what the production would like to accomplish.

“The feedback so far is positive. The city’s day-to-day business traffic has to be accommodated,” Riley said. “I think we had an economic impact last season and I think there will be a positive impact with us being here longer this year.”

Riley near the end of the presentation commented on the relevance of the city and its citizens and businesses in the scope of the project.

“It is important that Senoia not just be a backdrop. We’ll come up with some ways to make the city feel like they’re a part of the it. We couldn’t do this without the city,” Riley said. “I think fans will show up during and after (the production) and again next year for that season if the ratings are good.”

The production company will maintain ongoing contact with City Manager Richard Ferry and Police Chief Jason Edens and will meet again with business owner prior to shooting once those specifics are known, Riley said.

Asked about the large number of visitors expected to view the Southern Living Magazine’s 2012 Idea House that will open on the south side of downtown on the Gin Property beginning this summer, Raleigh executive Scott Tigchelaar said he thought the Idea House will add to the attraction of the city.

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Hooray for Hollywood!

Like "Drop Dead Diva," most of the cast and crew for "TWD" live in PTC while shooting, so this will have a huge economic impact on Fayette County as well.