By Rick Ivey
Special to the Times-Enterprise
Thomasville is once again buzzing with activity surrounding not one, but two motion pictures taking advantage of diverse and picturesque locations available here, and local officials couldn’t be happier to host the productions.
“We’re always excited when film crews come to town,” said Bonnie Hayes, City of Thomasville Tourism and Film Manager. “Film is a tourism driver, but more than that, film has an economic impact on our community in many different ways.
“Our hotels are completely booked up, but we also see a boost in our local restaurants, retail stores, home supply stores, gas stations, drug stores…. Everyone sees a benefit when these film crews come to town, and coming out of COVID, this is a wonderful shot in the arm to our economy,” Hayes added.
An added benefit, she said, comes from tourism surrounding film, both short-term and long-term.
“People love to see their favorite movie stars, but they also like to visit after filming has completed, to wander through locations they’ve seen on the big screen,” Hayes said.
Over the next three weeks, Thomasville is hosting two film productions, “Supercell,” a tornado-disaster film starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche, and “Bandit,” a true crime feature starring Mel Gibson and Josh Duhamel.
Both productions have strong local ties to filmmakers and producers who see the benefit for the community but also have an interest in protecting Thomasville by bringing only the right projects and the right people.
Thomasville Pictures, a production company headed by Thomas County native Allen Cheney and his partner, Ryan Smith, has brought multiple film projects to Thomasville, something Cheney sees as a positive for everyone involved.
“We are so thrilled to continue seeing production find a home in Thomasville, and we are determined to shepherd these projects in a way that benefits both the films and the local community,” Cheney said. “I’m so thankful to our community for being supportive and welcoming to our production teams and actors.”
Smith said they aren’t willing to bring “just any project” to Thomasville.
“We’ve worked really hard to find the right production partners that we trust and know we can work with to make great content. We only want the best,” he noted. “We anticipate a couple of million dollars injection from both projects into the local economy.”
“Supercell” is the third collaboration between Thomasville Pictures and Bay Point Media, headed by Rob Moran and his partner Chandler Rierson. Their previous films shot in Thomasville include “The Tiger Rising” and “One Way.”
Bay Point Media is one of the leading film finance companies in Georgia, and Moran is the husband of Thomasville native Julie Bryan Moran. Bay Point actively looks for films that would be a good match for the community, Moran said.
“We love to bring films to Thomasville because the folks are so wonderful to our actors and make a lasting impression on them,” Moran added.
The film stars — who in recent years have ranged from Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid to Machine Gun Kelly and Kevin Bacon — have made a lasting impression on the community as well.
Fans who gathered to observe filming in downtown Thomasville on Tuesday morning reported that Duhamel was very nice and generous with his time, taking time out between takes to pose for selfies and greet those gathered.
“Everyone who comes here to do these films with us is just sitting down for a couple of months at a time, and by the time we’re done, a lot of them hate to leave,” Cheney said. “They feel the special nature of our city, and they make friends with locals. I tell them they’ll just have to come back and keep working with us!”