UPDATE: Mel Gibson shooting film in Downtown Valdosta; extras needed

·4 min read

Jun. 8—VALDOSTA — A film starring actor Mel Gibson is currently filming in Downtown Valdosta, Tonya Winn of Thomasville Pictures confirmed.

On May 21, Allen Cheney announced on Facebook that Thomasville Pictures would be shooting action thriller "Bandit," starring Gibson and Josh Duhamel.

Extras are also needed, according to a statement from Downtown Valdosta Main Street. People should contact banditbgcasting@gmail.com. People will need to dress in 1980s attire.

Lowndes County Manager Paige Dukes announced during the Lowndes County Commission meeting this evening that filming will be at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse next week.

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Thomasville Pictures has two projects currently being filmed in Thomasville and two more unnamed films planning to be filmed later this year.

"There's two new films this year that we're going to bring," Allen Cheney, executive producer of Thomasville Pictures, told The Thomasville Times Enterprise last week. "We haven't announced it yet because we can't do that but we do have two other films slated for this year, which means we will have done at least five films in Thomasville through our company Thomasville Pictures."

Cheney, a Thomasville native, and partner Ryan Smith, said they started the company with the intent to bring more production to southwest Georgia.

The company started in 2019 with their first project "The Tiger Rising," starring Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid. They then began filming their second project "One Way" in February starring Kevin Bacon and Machine Gun Kelly.

"The Tiger Rising" is set to premiere on June 24, according to IMDB.com.

"A few years ago, Thomasville had never had any films or anything taking advantage of the wonderful Georgia film model," Cheney said, "so I decided to bring some of my projects down here (Thomasville) and see how they went and they took off and did great. I've brought a few more and everything seems to be going well."

The production company's current projects include "Bandit" starring Josh Duhamel and Mel Gibson and Supercell" starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche.

"I think it's (filmmaking in Thomasville) good for the town because we bring a lot of money into town when we come. We haven't really seen outside filmmakers come in yet and do other things, it's just been our company doing each film," Cheney said. "We love the model. We love Thomasville, we love the people and how they embrace us."

Shelley Zorn, executive director of the Thomasville Payroll Development Authority, said she's observed an indirect and direct economic boost from the rise of film productions in Thomasville.

"They (Thomasville Pictures) have now brought four films to Thomasville and those films' budgets are a total of $38 million. The production comes and spends money and then the crew themselves go out and spend money," she said. "It's a new industry sector for us. They don't put a strain on our infrastructure, so I think it's a good clean industry that spends money here and I think it's exciting for the residents. I haven't heard any negative comments."

The increase in film production also has had an impact on workforce development in Thomasville.

"I think a lot of times, some of the jobs that are existing may not be as attractive to some students and so film is definitely a new industry that our community is just now getting a taste of," said Andrea Collins, executive director of the Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce. "Anyone who is looking for that pathway to any sort of career in film, the sky's really the limit there. From the standpoint of workforce development, I think there's more opportunity in that sense."

Cheney said the film tax credit is one of the things that attracts filmmakers to Georgia and right now it sits at 30% which is 30 cents from each dollar from the state of Georgia.

"It's very lucrative," Cheney said, "which is why lots of people from around the world love to come film in Georgia. Most of them film around the Atlanta area, so we kind of broke the mold when we started doing it down here in Thomasville."

With the rise of production in Thomasville, Cheney said other producers also may want to start filming in Thomasville and hopes they will respect the city as his company has.

"I would hope that other producers want to come in and do the same thing but they follow our lead and also treat Thomasville the right way," he said. "Since I'm from here, it's just important for me to do it the right way and with others not from here, I would hope they have the same respect that we've had."

More to come on this story.

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