People in downtown Macon between Thursday and Saturday night who hear gunfire, explosions and helicopters shouldn’t panic.
There’s no real disaster going on, save for the apocalypse in the fictional world of “The 5th Wave,” which began filming Thursday night in downtown Macon after a week of preparation.
“The 5th Wave” is based on the popular young adult novel by Rick Yancey and is being produced by Columbia Pictures for an anticipated January 2016 release date. The plot revolves around a young woman named Cassie, played by actress Chloe Grace Moretz, who is on the run during the fifth wave of an alien invasion of Earth.
Cotton Avenue and Second Street between Mulberry and Cherry streets will be doubling as Dayton, Ohio, in the movie.
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Those streets are covered in trash, with broken and boarded-up windows covered in graffiti that says “Go Away” and “Help.” Thursday, the production crew set up lights and cameras.
Because there are several action sequences to be shot, the crew and the city are closing off access to other nearby streets for safety issues. For example, a helicopter will be landing near the statue where Cotton Avenue and Second Street meet. According to a schedule posted by the production team, there will be gunfire and pyrotechnic sounds Friday and Saturday night.
Members of the production team said they are aware that the Gregg Allman concert will be taking place Friday and Saturday night at the Grand Opera House on Mulberry Street and said the production will not interfere with that.
Macon-Bibb County Assistant Fire Chief Shane Edwards said he has had regular meetings with the production team to make certain all bases are covered when it comes to public safety. Edwards said off-duty firefighters and reserve fire trucks will be on hand, so public safety won’t be an issue.
In addition, the film crew is paying the cost of having the firefighters near the set, so no expense will come from the fire department’s budget, Edwards said.
“(The production) is probably generating a lot more revenue than it’s costing us,” he said.
Trey Neely, location manager for “The 5th Wave,” said Thursday the production team has informed downtown residents and businesses of the shooting schedule so as not to cause a panic.
“We’ll have plenty of police and volunteers for safety reasons, keeping everyone back,” he said.
Because of the large perimeter and the cold weather, Neely is advising people not to hang out near the filming, because there won’t be a good vantage point.
Neely said he settled on Macon as a filming location after scouting several other cities. The city’s reputation as being film-friendly has grown after productions such as “42” and “Need For Speed” have shot here over the past couple of years.
“(Macon) has a great look, a very cinematic look,” he said. “It has a lot to offer for filming. ... (Everyone) has been very supportive of us. We’re very excited. ... We scouted different areas, but I loved the way the city center here looked.”
The production also is filming in Atlanta, and Neely said Georgia’s tax credits for film production was a factor in choosing to locate in the state.
Neely said most of the details about the production are being kept under wraps. However, he said Moretz won’t be shooting any scenes in Macon because she’ll be attending the People’s Choice Awards this weekend, where she won Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress.
Most of the businesses within the filming area closed early Thursday because of the production, but the operators of those businesses said they haven’t been hurt by the closures.
Brian Ochoa, owner of the The Gentry men’s hairstyling service on Cotton Avenue, said he’s been able to draw traffic after he posted on his Facebook page that the movie is shooting outside his storefront.
“It’s been good for me,” said Ochoa, who added that some members of the crew have gotten haircuts from him. “They’re very good guys. ... It’s not every day you see a battleground in front of your store. It’s great for Macon.”
Ochoa said he’s been told his storefront should be visible in some of the movie’s shots.
Jessica Williams, manager of the Greek Corner Deli at Second and Cherry streets, said she’s seen an uptick in business this week.
“It’s definitely picked up,” she said.
Writer Jennifer Burk contributed to this report.