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Watching ‘Sharp Objects’ a surreal experience

Watching the first two episodes of HBO’s ‘˜Sharp Objects’ has been a true education for me in that I was privy to some of the preparation and location scouting that preceded the filming of the series’ exterior scenes here last summer. Early in the planning stages, I met with Dodd and Taylor Vickers who were location managers for the project and I saw up close how much work went into set preparation and set dressing. rked for a full week and filmed for an entire day for what amounted to 40 seconds of screen time. This was not a fly-by-night operation. It was a big budget production. IDA executive director Kathy Oxford and Barnesville’s film liaison Niki Sappington have conservatively estimated the economic impact just in Lamar County at over $500,000. Here that money was spent on public and private location fees, facility rentals, pay for off-duty police officers and deputies who provided security, set decorations, office supplies, lumber and other things. ‘The $500,000 is a conservative estimate since we don’t really know how much they spent on gas and food or how many local extras were hired and how much they were paid,’ Oxford said. Local artist Andrew Henry was hired by HBO to do multiple murals and other work for the production. During the time the HBO crew was here sales tax collections went up by 10% and that can only be attributed to the production. ’What other industry can you attract that will bring in people who will spend that much money, clean up after themselves and go out of their way to make up for any inconvenience they might cause,’ Oxford asked. The statewide economic impact of ‘Sharp Objects’ is estimated at $6.5 million. That includes things like catering; the rental of lighting, portable restrooms, camera equipment and vehicles; salaries for drivers and a host of other things. Film is big in Georgia and Barnesville is the state’s newest star. ’Sharp Objects’ is not ‘˜Happy Days’ sporting the latest hijinks of Richie and the Fonz. It was Gillian Flynn’s first book and it is dark ‘“ very dark. Some people seem to have a problem with that and feel the dark subject matter somehow reflects back on Barnesville. Except in the closing credits where HBO thanks the city and citizens of Barnesville, the town is not mentioned. Though it is obviously Barnesville on the screen, it is Wind Gap in the series. As someone pointed out, this is not a documentary it is fiction. Over 2.1 million people watched episode one of ‘˜Sharp Objects’ in the first 24 hours it was aired. There is simply no other way to get that kind of publicity for a small town and now, as we bask in the limelight, we must take advantage of that exposure and that work is underway. Barnesville is now a big blip on the film production radar. At a viewing party here opening night both Dodd and Taylor Vickers intimated more projects are on the way. Oxford and Sappington have heard from other production crews. Wind Gap has its own Facebook page. Entertainment types from all over the world are writing and blogging about Barnesville. ’Sharp Objects’ has multiple fan pages on which viewers post about planning visits here. That means tourism dollars and, perhaps, lots of them. Henry’s murals have been preserved for ‘˜selfie spots’ for those tourists. The buzz about about the series after the first episode was amazing. It will increase this week after episode two. There are six more episodes to go plus the potential is there for a season two. Flynn has said she has plans for scripts and HBO’s ratings are excellent so that is a real possibility. ’Sharp Objects’ has been nothing but good for Barnesville. Let’s not look a gift horse in its mouth ‘“ no matter how dark its teeth may be. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and the Pike County Journal Reporter. He may be reached by emailing him at or by calling 770.358.NEWS

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