Old Atlanta Prison Farm a favorite with filmmakers

The Old Atlanta Prison farm is a favorite with filmmakers. AJC photo by Kent Johnson

The Old Atlanta Prison Farm structure, where fire crews have been battling a blaze, is a favorite place for filmmakers looking for a gritty backdrop.

The  Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller "Sabotage," released earlier this year, filmed some there. The movie, also starring Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard and Atlanta’s own Catherine Dyer, starred Ah-nold as the head of a rogue DEA unit. The team used the prison farm for a target-practice scene.

Director David Ayer, whose latest movie "Fury," starring Brad Pitt, is out now, found the prison farm and other locations, including a local gentleman's club and a swank Lake Lanier house, perfect for the project.

I interviewed actor Raj Kala, who plays a scary bad guy in "The Circle," during a visit to the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. He was super nice in real life, though. AJC photo by Kent Johnson

“It’s such a great city to shoot in,” he told us in an interview when "Sabotage" came out.

Local indie "The Circle" also filmed last year at the prison farm. When we visited the set during production, Spitfire Studios co-owners  Tom Hamilton and Tripp Rhame said dodging copperheads, feral dogs and hypodermic needles came along with shooting at the site.

"Nobody got bit," Hamilton said after filming wrapped.

"By an animal," Rhame quipped.

Spitfire Studios co-owner Tripp Rhame at the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, when his indie horror movie "The Circle" filmed there. AJC photo by Kent Johnson

"The Circle" cast includes Riley Smith of the modern "90210," Elimu Nelson, who's appeared on episodes of "House of Lies" and "The Game, "and Chelsey Crisp, who has been seen on episodes of "Mike & Molly," "Rizzoli & Isles" and "CSI: Miami," among other shows.

During our visit to the prison-farm set, Chelsey applauded what had to be the most perfect place an independent horror film could have hoped for.

"It's an amazing place to film," she said of the derelict, graffiti-covered structure. "It's very creepy."

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About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for accessAtlanta.com.