Athens Area Attractive Location for Reality TelevisionPosted: March 6, 2012
Danielle Foley, a 21 year old University student seemed anxious to be interviewed for a new MTV reality show that was holding a casting call in the Silver Dollar bar in downtown Athens.
A number of others joined Foley signing release forms and waiting to be interviewed in front of numerous cameras.
They downed many drinks while they waited to be called back by show producers.
Casting calls and film crews have become a frequent scene in Clarke County as the Athens area has become increasingly popular for reality television and film production.
Georgia is currently the fourth largest location for film production in the country, according to the state website. Georgia has set up tax incentives and the Camera Ready Communities program, which connects productions with local film liaisons around the state.
“Athens-Clarke county recently became “Camera Ready”. The “Camera Ready” program was designed to “train and certify Georgia counties to work effectively with production companies and provide local, one-on-one assistance in every aspect of production, from location scouting and film permits to traffic control, catering and lodging,” according to the state website,” adds Darien LaBeach, University student and founder of local Athens production company, Society of Greater Things.
These programs attract production and filming and build the Georgia economy. Exactly 336 productions were filmed in the state in the 2011 fiscal year and the state earned a revenue of approximately $2.1 billion from film productions.
Athens-Clarke County is an attractive destination in the state for filming due to its concentration of entertainment venues, the University of Georgia, and historic locations, according to Film Athens, a non-profit organization that seeks to highlight Athens as a friendly location for filming.
“We’re the smallest couty in the state, but we have 37 venues for music and 550 bands, We have two opera companies, three symphonies, at least four independent theaters, a bus system, gardens, coffeehouses, great restaurants, music, piercings, conservatives, liberals, athletes. We have everything here,” Leara Rhodes, a professor at the University told Film Athens.
There are plenty of opportunities in the Athens area to participate in reality television and other film productions. New opportunities appear constantly on the Film Athens website.
“The attraction of one of the top party schools in the nation caught the attention of MTV, according to show producers. “I think MTV picked Athens because the students here know how to party, and we have a lot of bars and events that could be cool as the background for a reality show,” said Foley.
Casting took place in downtown Athens for the new reality show hosted by MTV personality Isaac Stout, who is the co-owner of the Bad Manor bar in Athens. The new show is titled “The Diesel Bus.” Cast members of the show would be filmed riding the party bus with friends from Athens to Atlanta, said producers. Cast members would also compete in challenges while on the bus. The show is also going to be used as a casting for possible cast members on other MTV reality shows such as “The Real World.”
Party goers were attracted to casting for the show. “I like to party. I have always wanted to be on the Real World. I have been told I do outrageous and fun stuff. I would love to make a career out of being wild and crazy like my idol, Snooki,” said Foley.
“I found out about the show through word of mouth. I wanted to do something spontaneous. I really love reality television especially MTV. I think I would be perfect for this show,” said David Phillips, another university student at the casting call.
Foley and Phillips were asked questions about her party habits and personality at the casting. Both were excited about the possibility of being on television to party. Producers were looking for Athen’s wildest and craziest partiers to cast for the show.
Not all Athens residents were happy to hear about the idea of bringing more attention the party scene in the area. “Terrible, terrible, terrible idea,” said Ivey Hamby, digital director of niche publications at the Athens Banner-Herald. “No girl wants to get sloppy drunk on a bus, do idiotic things, and put it out there for their grandma to see.”
“Only positivity can come from the increase of films and tv shows in Athens. As long as there aren’t any Jersey Shore remakes in my personal opinion. Sure a lot of students watch those shows and act very similarly to the actors on those shows, but they aren’t the true Athenians for the most part. Plus, if you consider what’s happened to the cast of Jersey Shore, they are no longer allowed to film in the area the show once took place. For instant claim to fame (in my opinion infamy) shows like that should come for a little while and then move on. But I would much rather see full length feature films filmed in Athens. I feel like the arrival of people looking to make such films would also serve to advocate the preservation of much of what downtown Athens has stood for and discourage big box stores like Walmart from coming,” adds LaBeach.
Other reality television shows casting and filming in the Athens are not as contriversal. The History Channel’s “American Pickers” is a show in which the two hosts travel the country looking for hidden antiques that could be restored into a treasure, according to the show’s website. Syfy’s “Haunted Collector” is a show that focuses on searching for ghosts, according to the show’s Facebook page.
These producers were drawn to the area for the rich history in the Athens. The city has 38 nationally registered historic sites and 15 nationally designated historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Film Athens.
“It’s a great opportunity for scenes from Athens to be out there on the national stage. Scenes of Athens’ beauty and great collections that people have would stir potential visitors to maybe come to the antique shops and search for their own treasures,” Hannah Smith, communications manager for the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau told the Athens Banner-Herald.
“There are so many amazing locations for films that are unique to this area that people wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else, which makes anything produced here very original and authentic,” says LaBeach.
Foley will know in the next few weeks if she will be a castmate on “The Diesel Bus” reality show, but if she is not picked as a castmate, another reality show will probably hold casting call in the Athens area soon.