There was a lot of activity last week outside of Avondale Estates when a school, shut down since 2008, reopened under a new name.
Forest Hills Elementary School came back to life last Monday as Millard Fillmore Elementary School as parents walked the children to the front door held open by a school official.
But it wasn’t real: the school was part of the set for a movie being filmed in DeKalb County. The movie, Walt Disney Pictures’ The Odd Life of Timothy Green, stars Jennifer Garner, who played Sidney Bristow in ABC’s Alias, which ran from 2001-06. Also in the movie are Joel Edgerton who played in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and CJ Adams of Dan in Real Life.
The movie is being directed by Academy Award®–nominated writer/director Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life, About a Boy, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape). Hedges also penned the script, based on a story from producer Ahmet Zappa.
According to a press release, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a magical story about a Cindy and Jim Green, played by Garner and Edgerton, who are eager to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy, played by Adams, shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim, and their small town of Stanleyville, discover a whole new view of what it is to love and be loved.
Crews were in Decatur for about a week getting the school ready and the filming was from Feb. 2-7.
No detail was overlooked in reviving the school. Construction paper cut-outs of children’s hands adorned the classroom windows. Crews covered Georgia license plates with ones that said “Spring County: The Best Place To Live.” Silk trees were placed on the grounds to add greenery to shots that would have shown the leafless tree trunks that were actually there. Kids’ bikes were parked near the school’s entrance. All of this made the school appear as if it had never been closed.
A section of Forrest Boulevard from North Carter Road to Craigie Avenue was closed to through traffic during the filming and off-duty DeKalb County Police officers controlled traffic around the school.
In addition to the old Forest Hills Elementary School, other sites for the movie include Walton, Morgan, Coweta and Cherokee counties. Filming is expected to last through the end of March.
About 80 percent of the 160-member crew is from the local area, said Claire Raskind, publicist for the movie. There are also about 160 extras in the movie, which does not yet have a release date.
One of the actors in the movie is local-grown. According to the Internet Movie Database, Tim Ware, a native of the Atlanta area, will play a mayor in the movie. Ware worked as a captain in the Decatur Fire Department before being discovered by a talent scout while acting in a local dinner theater.