Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 46

Booming film industry
has changed Georgia
. . . and me
BY J. FRANK LYNCH

O

n a bright, cool afternoon in April
2003, I stood in a pasture on Sandy Creek Road in Fayette County
and interviewed a local farmer as he
burned the remains of an old sharecropper's cabin to the ground.
Several generations of the Rivers
family had farmed that land, part of
more than 1,000 acres that extended
from Rivers Road in the far north end
of the county to below Georgia Highway 54 west of Fayetteville.
The Rivers family recently had
sold its last herd of cattle and placed
hundreds of acres of family farmland
up for sale. Developers were already
chomping at the bit. The land was expected to fetch millions. It was the
end of an era for Fayette County.
I was a reporter for a local newspaper at the time, and this story was
deeply personal to me. I am a seventh-generation Fayette County native. That farmer, Paul Rivers, was in
my Sunday school class at church. His
mother was my fourth-grade teacher.
My best friend grew up in a house
just around the bend, and we used to
ride bikes on that pastureland. His
parents still live there to this day.
Ten years went by. I moved on to
newspaper jobs in Auburn, Ala., and
Brunswick. Thanks in no small part to
the Great Recession, the Rivers farm
sat dormant and unsold-until an
amazing thing happened. Almost 10
years to the day of that interview, the
stunning announcement was made
that London's famous Pinewood Studios had purchased 800 acres with
plans to build its first U.S.-based film
and television production center.
Today, Pinewood Atlanta Studios
is the largest purpose-built film studio
outside of California and the second46

largest film studio in North America.
That plot of land where a sharecropper's cabin once stood is now part of
Pinewood Forrest, a nearly $1 billion
"new urbanist" development promising a unique "live/work/create" environment for Georgia's booming entertainment industry.
For me, the story doesn't stop
there. As a career journalist with 25plus years in the newspaper business,
I'd suffered the effects of an industry
in decline. After my last layoff, I resigned myself to the fact that I had to
do something else to survive. So I
moved back to Savannah (where I'd
worked in the 1990s) and reluctantly
turned to freelancing (along with
hundreds of my former colleagues). I
wrote about breast cancer. I sold trolley tours. I hawked shaved ice to
sweaty tourists waiting in line for
Paula Deen's iconic The Lady & Sons
restaurant.
Then in fall of 2014, a friend
dared me to join him in auditioning
for an extras part in Channing Tatum's "Magic Mike XXL," filming in
Savannah. I got booked immediately.
The second day on set, somebody
said they were casting for extras on
"Ant-Man," the first film in production
at the brand-new Pinewood Atlanta
Studios on Sandy Creek Road in my
hometown of Fayetteville-on the
exact spot where, as a boy, I rode
bikes with my best friend.
I sent an email. They called within an hour. "How soon can you be
here?"
I'd found my "post-newspaper
career" calling.
In the three years since, I've
worked on dozens of film and TV
projects from Atlanta to Savannah. I
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org

J. Frank Lynch
wears many hats-literally-as an extra in
movies and TV shows, including the nowcanceled series "Underground" (screen
shot in center). For some tips on how to
get started as an extra, see page 42 of this
month's issue.

spent two weeks as a refugee camp
survivor in "The 5th Wave." I was a
businessman (don't ask) in "Baywatch." I've been a college professor
in "Life of the Party" with Melissa McCarthy and played more news reporters than I can count. I was dad for a
week to an adorable brother and sister from Macon in the latest "Diary of
a Wimpy Kid" entry, shot at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds in Griffin. And I
had a recurring role as a slave trader
in the second season of WGN America's series "Underground," which was
shot entirely in Savannah (and, unfortunately, recently canceled).
My introduction to film and television restored my love of acting and
has led me to become more active in
the Savannah theater community,
where I'm a proud member of the
highly acclaimed Collective Face
Theatre Ensemble.
Whenever people question the
ethics or wisdom of the Georgia
Legislature's decision to offer tax
incentives for film and television
production, I point to myself as one
shining example of a native who has
benefited enormously.
My life has come full circle. And
I couldn't be happier.
J. Frank Lynch is a Savannahbased freelance writer and editor who
regularly works as a background actor on Georgia film and TV projects.
GEORGIA MAGAZINE


http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - September 2017

Contents
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 3
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 5
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 6
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 7
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 8
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 9
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 10
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 11
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 12
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 13
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 14
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 15
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 16
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 17
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 18
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 19
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 20
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 21
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 22
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 23
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 24
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 25
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 26
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 27
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 28
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 29
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 30
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 31
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 32
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 33
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 34
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 35
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 36
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 37
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 38
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 39
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 40
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 40A
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 40B
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 40C
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 40D
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 41
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 42
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 43
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 44
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 45
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 46
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 47
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 48
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 49
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 50
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 51
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 52
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 53
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 54
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 55
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 56
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 57
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 58
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 58A
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 58B
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 58C
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - 58D
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - September 2017 - Cover4
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