Tag Archives: Film Industry in Coastal Georgia

Film Set, Groveland

I took a turn off a dirt road at Groveland a few years ago and stumbled onto a fascinating collection of buildings. Though I was unsure of their purpose at the time, Bill Warnell, wrote in January 2012: Both Glory and East of Eden filmed scenes here. The buildings are original structures used in farming. Both movies painted the houses/barns for their purposes. The buildings last served as the town of Darien in the movie Glory. The movie called for the town to be torched by “the 54th” after they pillaged it as part of the War of Northern Aggression! Most of the buildings are still used for storage and can be seen from Hwy 280 but are ALL on private property. The Warnell family has long been associated with Bryan County. They lived in Groveland until moving to Pembroke in 1927. Daniel Brooks Warnell is the namesake of the UGA School of Forestry, one of the best-known in the nation, and the Mary Kahrs Warnell Forest Education Center, named for his wife, is an excellent resource near Guyton.

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Live By Night: Historic Downtown Brunswick Being Transformed into Prohibition-Era Ybor City

Live By Night Movie Directed by Ben Affleck Set Construction Newcastle Street Brunswick Penn Oil Filling Station Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The south end of Newcastle Street, in Brunswick’s Old Town National Register Historic District is getting a dose of Hollywood special effects this week as crews prepare the area for filming the upcoming Ben Affleck movie Live By Night, based on the bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane.  Brunswick was chosen to fill in for Prohibition-era Ybor City, the now-trendy Tampa neighborhood known as the center of the American cigar industry for much of its existence.

Live By Night Movie Brunswick GA Transforming into 1930s Ybor City Tampa Mercado Sign Being Painted Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

It was an eye-opening experience for me to see this process in action. I’ve photographed several abandoned set locations in my endless travel throughout Georgia in the past decade, but the vitality and energy of these crews gives me a new appreciation for everything that goes into making a movie. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Ben Affleck’s work.

Live By Night Movie Set Brunswick GA Florida Drug Company Ybor City Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Most of the work is cosmetic, with paint and signage appearing on familiar storefronts. The magic of filmmaking insures that nearly all these places will return to normal soon after the movie wraps.

Live By Night Movie Set Mural Brunswick GA Local Artists Taking a Break Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

While two local artists take a break beside a mural at the corner of Newcastle and Monck Streets, carpenters help put the finishing touches on a period furniture store.

Live By Night Movie Brunswick GA Set Construction Monck Street Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

As a photographer of fading rural Georgia, I see signs and murals like these quite often, but I tip my hat to these artists, especially the attention to detail. It’s amazing!

Live By Night Movie Set On Newcastle and Monck Street Corner Brunswick GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Across the street, an empty lot on the corner of Newcastle and Monck has taken on a whole new appearance, with the ground-up construction of  Ciego de Avila, representing a restaurant of old Ybor City.

Live By Night Movie Ben Affleck Brunswick GA Movie Set Construction Ciego de Avila Restaurante Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Everything was on the move, from tables to sand. More about the sand in a bit.

Live By Night Movie Set Preparation Brunswick GA Shoveling Dirt for Streets Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

A little further down Newcastle, just past Ciego de Avila is this newly constructed prop, the Bodega la Concha. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Live By Night Ben Affleck Movie Brunswick GA Set Preparation Bodega La Concha Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Back across the street, detail work was being done on more storefronts.

Live By Night Movie Set Being Built Newcastle Street Brunswick GA Hardware Storefront Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The Hicks Brothers Hardware Store, seen below, should be familiar to those who grew up in the era of independent local retailers, all too rare today.

Live By Night Movie Set Brunswick GA Detail of Hicks Bros Hardware Store Ybor City Re Creation Tools Brooms Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

They even had an old seed display.

Live By Night Movie Being Filmed in Brunswick GA Hicks Bros Hardware Store Front Feed Seed Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

And this cool sign for Columbian Pure Manila Rope.

Live By Night Set Brunswick GA Hicks Brothers Hardware Storefront Window Sign Columian Pure Manila Rope Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

This prop worker was making final tweaks on a cardboard advertising sign and was patient with me taking her picture.

Live By Night Movie Set Props Being Placed Brunswick GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Just across the street,  Tampa Savings Bank and Ybor Iron Works are taking shape.

Live By Night Set Newcastle Street Brunswick Becomes Ybor City 1930s Tampa Savings Bank Ybor Iron Works Facades Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Some of these structures have been empty for a long time, and Brunswick friends have suggested that they’re happy to see any improvements, even cosmetic ones.

Live By Night Movie Ben Affleck Brunswick GA Tampa Savings Bank False Facade Added to Building on Newcastle Street Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Brunswick’s magnificent Historic City Hall (seen here behind a Warner Bros. “dirt truck”), on the south end of Newcastle Street, is essentially camera-ready and slated to appear in the movie, as well.

Live By Night Movie Set City Hall Dirt being Added to Newcastle Street Warner Brothers Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

These trucks and lots of hard labor are spreading dirt all over the street surfaces that will appear in the film.

Live By Night Movie Set Dirt On Newcastle Street Brunswick GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

And the street looks great…

Live By Night Movie Ben Affleck Set Construction Transformation of Newcastle Street Into 1930s Ybor City Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Working my way back up Newcastle Street I was happy to see the Spanish Coca-Cola mural on the side of the Ciego de Avila Restaurante.

Live By Night Movie Set Newcastle Street Brunswick GA Tome Coca Cola Mural Re Creation Ciego de Avila Restaurante Ybor City Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

There was more detail work being done on that structure. It seems to be never-ending.

Live By Night Movie Set Brunswick GA Restaurante Detail Work Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Back at the corner of Newcastle and Monck, there’s this great view.

Live By Night Movie Set Construction Corner of Monck and Newcastle Brunswick Ybor City Re Creation Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

And more workers securing the set.

Live By Night Movie Ben Affleck Brunswick GA Construction of Set on Newcastle Street Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Monck Street should feature prominently in the film.

Live By Night Movie Set Construction Monck Street Brunswick GA Ellis Repair Shop Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Besides this wonderful recreation of an early automotive garage, there’s the 5th Avenue Social Club, surely a favorite of the criminal elements integral to the story.

Live By Night Movie Set Ben Affleck Brunswick GA Monck Street Storefront Transformed Into Ybor City 5th Avenue Social Club Boxers Mural Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

And finally, looking down Monck toward Newcastle.

Live By Night Movie Set Construction Monck Street Brunswick GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

If you’re curious about the movie, you can read Dennis Lehane’s book, or visit IMDB, where this anonymous plot summary was first posted: Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world. Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw. But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one-neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover-can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt. Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2361317/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl

 

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