Georgetown welcomes film invasion

People are willing to be prey in Georgetown, but they're not exactly sure what for.

Is it a parasite? Is it some type of bug? Who knows?

What they do know - and folks are thrilled about the possibilities - is that next month filming will begin for a movie titled "Isopod."

"It is some kind of sci-fi, ecological disaster, some kind of thing," said City Administrator Chris Eldridge via telephone Tuesday. "It's maybe a horror movie. It sounds like an outbreak, but I haven't seen or read the script and they probably like to protect that, too, so you have to go watch the film."

Barry Levinson, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 1989 for "Rain Man," is slated to direct the movie, according to Eldridge and a 7:38 p.m. tweet on Aug. 10 from Production Weekly.

The tweet read, "Barry Levinson plans to direct the indie sci-fi thriller 'Isopod,' production is scheduled to begin in the Carolinas."

About three weeks ago, Eldridge said folks connected to the project came to Georgetown.

They looked. They liked.

"They were looking for a coastal town, and they liked our waterfront," Eldridge said. "We have canopy streets with live oaks, and our business district is right on the water."

Nobody's sure about the plot or why they were looking for a coastal town, but isopods are a diverse family of crustaceans, mostly found in the ocean. The most familiar member, found in many backyards, is the pill bug.

Early Monday evening, City Councilwoman Jeanette Ard and Mary Prince, her friend and fellow Rotarian, chatted about the movie while in Colonial Florist, which Ard owns.

"I feel like it will benefit our economy and our community, and it will be a shot in the arm for a short period of time," said Prince, who works with Southern Coastal Cable, a locally owned and operated Georgetown-based Internet and telephone company providing services to the "Isopod" production crew. "We are a community, and we are all in this together."

The filming will be relatively brief, not too intrusive, with parts of Georgetown being shut down for a few hours, not for days, Eldridge said.

"It should work well for everybody," he said.

Business owners are hoping the "Isopod" invasion will have a monstrous impact on the local economy.

"I am excited," said Meghan Rader, who owns Coffee Break Cafe with her husband, Ron, adding that hopefully the movie will help Georgetown be a continuous go-to place for filmmakers.

Communities, businesses and individuals can all reap Hollywood harvest when movies come to town, according to Dan Rogers of the S.C. Film Commission.

About half of a production budget is left behind when movies are filmed, Rogers said.

When "The Patriot" was filmed in York, Chester, Georgetown, Charleston and Berkley counties in 1999, $33 million was left in the state, Rogers said.

Nobody knows now what kind of economic impact the film will have on the state's third-oldest city.

Nevertheless, the anticipation of what could be is palatable.

Passers-by moseying down Front Street in Georgetown have even been tempted to walk inside the "Isopod" production office at 712 Front St. to see what's up but decided against it. Another "Isopod" office is on Screven Street.

"One of the rumors is that something gets into the water system and it kills people," said Lee Padgett, property manager for Jean and Steve Rothrock. The couple's majestic garden is being considered as a location for the movie. "So many people are trying to guess what is going on. People are talking about it. Mostly everybody wants to be an extra."

If asked, Eldridge said he would certainly be an extra.

"I might have to hit the gym hard," Eldridge said. "Of course, if it is a picture about dead people, I don't have to worry about it."