Sci-fi thriller filming begins in Georgetown

Filming started Monday for the science-fiction thriller being shot in Georgetown, and local merchants are hoping the movie will mean more than lights and cameras and will bring some action to their businesses.

Rhonda Morris, the owner of Morsels Market on Front Street, said the influx of extras and other people coming into town for filming should mean more business.

"We've definitely had a different crowd," she said.

The movie, directed by Barry Levinson and said to be named either "Isopod" or "The Bay," will film in different spots in Georgetown through mid-October. Crews filmed Monday afternoon and evening on the U.S. 17 bridge in Georgetown, causing brief traffic delays. Plans also are to film scenes of a Fourth of July festival on Front Street and more scenes in Georgetown Memorial Hospital.

Members of the production crew said they make an effort to shop, eat and stay locally.

"Ninety percent of my purchases have been local," said Glenn Peison, the set decorator for the film.

"That's how it should be," he said. "They're supporting us, and we're supporting them."

David Thornsberry, the location manager for the film, said the company is using local vendors in its scenes and is compensating the few businesses that might be disrupted by filming.

"They're OK with it," Thornsberry said of the disruption of filming. "The crowd we draw will really increase business."

The cast and crew is only the first round of economic impact, said Wayne Gregory, the president of the Georgetown County Economic Development Commission.

"There's a multiplier effect," said Gregory.

He said the film will increase people's awareness of Georgetown as a destination, either for fans of Levinson or for tourists looking for a new beach destination. More than 600 people, including some from as far away as Columbia, tried out last month to be extras in the movie, with the casting call seeking a set of 1-year-old twin boys and experts at eating blue crab.

"It definitely has a tremendous impact," Gregory said. "Once people know a movie was filmed here it becomes higher on their list."

That's what business owners such as Meg Tarbox are hoping for.

Tarbox owns the Harbor House Bed and Breakfast and turned down an offer from the film to use the house in the movie.

She said she didn't want to disrupt the season they already had going.

But having a movie shot in town will bring more people to downtown Georgetown, Tarbox said.

"It's a good thing for Georgetown," she said. "It's going to be great."