Tuesday Talk: Behind the scenes with "Richard Jewell" location scout

Tuesday Talk rounds up the latest Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) news you might have missed and also points forward to upcoming events on our campus.

With the controversial “Richard Jewell” film hitting theaters nationwide on Friday (Dec. 13), interest in the events surrounding the deadly 1996 bomb blast at Centennial Olympic Park is once again piqued.

For several weeks in July and early August, the Clint Eastwood-directed drama about falsely-implicated security guard Jewell, took up residence in the Park, recreating the look and feel of the 1996 Summer Olympics, including the deadly July 27, 1996 pipe bomb blast that killed Alice Hawthorne and injured 111 others.

In early August, unConventional visited a large production tent erected on the Park lawn to chat with Warner Bros. Pictures’ supervising location manager Patrick Mignano, whose credits including securing locations for Eastwood’s “American Sniper” and “The Mule,” both of which contain scenes shot in Atlanta.

Patrick Mignano, Supervising Location Manager with Warner Bros. Pictures, at Centennial Olympic Park on the set of “Richard Jewell.”

Here are excerpts from that conversation.

unConventional | What’s going on here on the set?

Mignano | This is Day 8 of 9. So we’ve been doing all of the background filming of the scenes leading up to the explosion.

unConventional | What’s the maximum number of people, including extras, utilized in the Park to make it look like the 1996 Olympics?

Mignano | We’ve had a little over 700 extras. And then probably another 200-250 crew members – hovering at right around 1,000 people at the maximum.

unConventional | Is the production crew largely local/Georgia-based?

Mignano | Yeah, I’d say so, the bulk of the crew is local. Some of the department heads, such as myself, came in from L.A., but I’d say probably 80 percent of the crew is local.

unConventional | Was Centennial Olympic Park the first place you thought of for recreating these scenes or was there somewhere else in mind?

Mignano | We wanted to do it in the place that it actually happened. The director, Clint Eastwood, is very keen on doing things as accurately as possible. We’ve done several biopics in the last few years, and every time we do, we try to film at the actual locations when we can. If we couldn’t do what we needed to do in Centennial Olympic Park, even though a lot of it things look different, a lot of it is the same (as 1996), but we’ve made it work. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority was very, very helpful in our meetings. You know we had a big block of time to be in here for nearly a month during the middle of summer, so it worked out really well.

An artist rendering of Centennial Olympic Park’s AT&T Global Olympic Village on display at the Atlanta History Center.

unConventional | Generally speaking, how did the production go about recreating the look and feel of the ’96 Olympics in the Park?

Mignano | Obviously (securing) the Park was the first step. Once we got the Park, the production and the art department, myself and my department, the location department, did a lot of research into the look. We looked at old footage, we looked at a lot photographs and tried to talk to as many people as we could. We went to the Atlanta History Center and got to go through their whole (Summer Olympics) archive, and I got to wear a Gold medal. They have a lot of pictures and a lot of videos. We did a lot of research, and from the photographs, we recreated the stage and the main elements that we need for our filming here.

unConventional | What do you look for in a location when you’re scouting?

Mignano | First, it has to look like what the production designer and director have in mind. And once we get the look, there are other considerations. We have to be able to film it. We have to be able to get a movie company close enough to shoot it, so logistical considerations are huge. First, it’s the aesthetics, then it’s the logistical concerns. You can have the most amazing location in the world but if you can’t get people with cameras into it, it won’t do you any good.

unConventional | How does Centennial Olympic Park stack up to those parameters?

Mignano | Logistically, it’s about as good as you can get. There were some challenges, but they were easily overcome.

unConventional | What is the economic impact of this film shoot on the city and areas surrounding the Park?

Mignano | As far as numbers go, I don’t have a number, but I know it’s significant. We’ve got a bunch of hotel rooms, just our crew alone. There’s an impact with all the jobs we’ve created – that’s a big deal. All the vendors that we deal with, especially here in this Park. We’ve spent some money recreating the Olympics for sure. People staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, going shopping, building materials, clothing, gasoline, food, I mean it’s all kind of hidden money – but it’s all money being spent, and it’s quite a bit when you think about it.

1996 Summer Olympics mascot IZZY among the artifacts in the Atlanta History Center’s archives.

unConventional | Now, the million-dollar question: is much-maligned Olympic mascot IZZY going to appear in this film?

Mignano | No, IZZY is enjoying his retirement.


Centennial Olympic Park’s International Winter Wonderland continues this week with the Chinese Lantern Festival and the Atlanta Christkindl Market. Click here for tickets to the Chinese Lantern Festival, which opens nightly at 6. Admission is free for the Christkindl Market, which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Georgia Connections Academy is hosting student testing daily through Friday (Dec. 13) at the GWCC’s Building C.

Solution Tree’s Mathematics in a PLC at Work (MAW) Summit is set for Wednesday (Dec. 11) through Friday (Dec. 13) at the GWCC’s Thomas Murphy Ballroom and Galleria and 400 level meeting rooms in Building B.

Hosted by Chris Fowler, ESPN will broadcast The Home Depot College Football Awards live from the Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame on the GWCCA campus at 7 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 12).

Meanwhile, campus neighbor State Farm Arena will host the Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Dec. 13), the V-103 Winterfest featuring Anthony Hamilton, Tyrese, Monica and Joe at 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 14), and the Hawks return to action against the Lebron James-led Los Angeles Lakers at 6 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 15).