If you spent anytime in downtown Douglasville Wednesday or Thursday, it wasn’t hard to figure out that a big-budget movie was filming at the old jail.
“Kill the Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner, is filming around Atlanta this month and will finish production in August, with an expected national release in 2014, according to James Ferrera, publicist for the film.
Ferrera said filming will also take place in Atlanta, Marietta and Decatur.
He confirmed Renner was in Douglasville for filming but couldn’t elaborate anymore about the scenes shot at the old jail.
Renner has starred in films like the “Avengers” as Hawkeye, some of the “Mission Impossible” films, the “Bourne Legacy” and “The Hurt Locker.”
In “Kill the Messenger” he plays Gary Webb, the real-life dedicated reporter for the San Jose Mercury-News. In the late 1990s, Webb uncovered the Central Intelligence Agency’s role in importing cocaine into California that was sold to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army, according to a press release from Focus Features issued Thursday announcing the start of production for the film.
Webb pursued the story and went public with his evidence, the release said. When targeted for a vicious smear campaign by the CIA and rival journalists, Webb found himself fighting for his reputation and his family.
“The story of Gary Webb, and the story he broke, is at once thrilling, emotional and relevant to all of us in the information age,” Focus Features CEO James Schamus
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and Co-CEO Andrew Karpen said in the release. “Our team of filmmakers has been tireless in working to get this movie made, and we know that audiences will empathize with Jeremy’s compassionate portrayal of a man who did the right thing at a great personal and professional cost.”
Michael Jones is the location manager for “Kill the Messenger.” He said he and his staff worked with Jerry Frost of the Douglas County Film Commission to find the old jail.
Once the site was selected, Harlan Films agreed to pay Douglas County $10,000 to use the facility.
Jones said he visited Douglasville several times and always made a point of visiting the Irish Bred Pub, where he was impressed by the food and service.
“Every single time I go back to Douglasville now, I always say, ‘I think we need to talk about something. Why don’t we go over to the Irish pub and have a sandwich,’ ” Jones said. “All I know is everybody from the county level and the sheriff’s department has been very helpful in terms of helping facilitate our use of the jail and our stay.”
A large truck from Mario’s Catering was sitting outside the old conference center Wednesday and Thursday. Mario’s, based in Porter Ranch, Calif., has been catering to movies and television shows for 30 years, according to the company’s website.
Bob Smith of the Douglas County Film Commission said he believed the caterers were serving their food in the old conference center.
Security was tight around the old jail during filming. The parking lot was full of large trucks. Thursday afternoon, crews could be seen coming and going. People were working around a wardrobe truck with racks of costumes, moving lights and other equipment in and out. A man could be seen going in through the main entrance wearing an orange prison uniform with “Los Angeles County Jail” on the back.
A security guard pointed to a black Ford SUV in a prime spot in the jail’s parking lot and said it was Renner’s personal vehicle.
“If you stay around long enough, you might see him,” he said.
The film also stars Josh Close, Rosemarie DeWitt, Andy Garcia, Lucas Hedges, Tim Blake Nelson, Robert Patrick, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Michael Cuesta, an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner for “Homeland,” is directing the movie, which was inspired by the books “Kill the Messenger” by Nick Schou and “Dark Alliance” by Gary Webb.