Even before I’d stepped on set of The Walking Dead, I felt like I was in a horror movie just waiting to happen. The small town where the show is being filmed, Peachtree City in Georgia, with its walk-paths in the woods and houses right on the lake, eerily feels as if someone is just waiting to jump out of the bushes. It didn’t help that there were early Halloween decorations all over the place already either.
The Walking Dead, back for a second season, moves the action from the city of Atlanta to the countryside, at a spot called Hershel’s Farm. Hershel Greene and his daughter Maggie (who will hold particular attention for Steven Yuen’s character, Glenn) are two of the characters that will be introduced in season 2. We drove to the location of Hershel’s farm about 45 minutes from the set in Sharpsburg.
The campsite set up next to house felt so authentic to the series that I spotted a baseball bat I would use for protection should my would-be movie come to life.
The house on the farm that is used in the series is owned by a family that still lives there while the shooting is going on; they just stay on another level of it.
After a little bit of snooping, we then drove to where the action was taking place: another small town called Sharpsburg.
No pictures could be taken on set, so you’ll have to reliably trust my word that Andrew Lincoln, aka Rick Grimes, is just as focused and dedicated in real life as he is in the series. And just as good looking! He sat with the crew as everyone had dinner, and I almost bumped into him emptying his tray when he’d finished. But I’m told he likes to stay in “the zone” so doesn’t really talk a lot in between filming takes.
The scene that was being filmed saw Deputy Sheriff Grimes runs out of a house, trying to escape zombies (naturally). Being on a set means hours and hours of hearing and seeing the same scene being shot over and over again. So by the end of it we could say the lines of the two other characters running away from the trouble, and scream along, in perfect unison (under our breathes of course – quiet on set!).
While I wasn’t able to speak to Andrew, I did speak to Jon Bernthal, who plays Shane. He had his dog, Boss, on set. As did Steven Yeun. Even the costume designer had her dog on set. It’s a wonder they don’t get scared with all those flesh-eating beasts running around.
The man who helps create the zombies is Greg Nicotero, who heads up the team that won the Emmy for Outstanding Prosthetics at the awards recently. He told us how he’s such a zombie perfectionist that he sits behind the monitor looking for anything out of place, like a zombie that may have gotten red standing out in the sun or one that is perspiring. “Why would they be sweating”, he rhetorically asks.
Pic: Gene Page/AMC
Dressing the zombies is the task of costume designer Eulyn Womble, who happens to be from Cape Town, and worked on season one before taking on more responsibility for the second one. She says we’ll see a lot less ties, fewer suits and more of the “ou vrou” with her flower dress to reflect this move to the country. She also says to keep a careful eye on the farm and how people are dressed there, but I couldn’t get any more out of her. Something about being sworn to set secrecy…
Before we drove off, there was one photo I could take – me with one of these famed walkers. The picture didn’t come out as well as it could have, but I think that’s almost a blessing in disguise. I would have had recurring nightmares of her face…
…especially after seeing that corpse in the road as we drove out.