Film Lifestyles

Behind the scenes of thriller being shot in Augusta

(Editor’s note: A story announcing the release date was published July 25. See story here.)

 A Category 5 hurricane hit Walton Way March 7, thanks to movie magic and the aid of two giant fans and a rain tower.

A portion of Walton Way between Milledge and Hickman Roads was cordoned off for the filmmaking at The Partridge Inn Tuesday night.

For the MarVista Entertainment thriller with the working title of Five Star Murder, a predominantly Augusta-based film crew transformed The Partridge Inn into the Libertine Grand Hotel on Tybee Island.

Crews set up a large fan outside the Partridge Inn March 7. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

“There is a hidden treasure in them-thar walls,” said producer Mark Crump of the plot.

When the storm bearing down on the hotel forces guests to evacuate, treasure hunters strike. However, one by one, the bodies start piling up, leaving the audience to wonder whodunit.

Tuesday’s shooting focused on the big hurricane scene also known as Scene 18, which has interior as well as exterior elements.

Barbara Zagrodnik (center) directs actors in a scene. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Barbara Zagrodnik, first assistant director, coached the background actors in their evacuation scene.

Most of the guests would rush out, but two actors would be more nonchalant. They’d been through hurricanes before, she told them. It wasn’t that big of a deal to them.

“Go to the bar and have a hurricane,” she instructed them.

  And for the exterior — well, that ends with a bunch of drenched actors exiting the hotel.

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Actors shoot a scene at the Partridge Inn Tuesday. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

The Partridge Inn received a few additional touches of movie magic. The film company rented out the entire fifth floor to capitalize on the hotel’s architecture. The winding halls provide an array of angles to give the illusion of different locations.

The second floor with its bar and ballroom is now the hotel’s lobby with a new check-in for film use only. Crews also created a spare hotel room, which receives the brunt of the hurricane in the movie.

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The fan and the rain tower for providing the hurricane special effects. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Holly White, the Partridge Inn general  manager, said it’s been exciting, but she’s had a sense of déjà vu.

“My previous property was at the beach,” said White, who is familiar with hurricane evacuations.

A glimpse of the filming of Five Star Murder at The Partridge Inn. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

She admits the process has been hectic as The Partridge Inn is at full occupancy, and they are readying the hotel for Masters’ guests.

Filming started Feb. 21 and will wrap up March 14.

Although it has a title now, crew members warn that could change prior to its July release on Tubi.

A cameraman sets up for a shot during the hurricane scene March 7. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Video from the March 7 rain test

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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