Sweet Home Alabama: Then and Now – 12 Years Later
It’s been almost 2 years since I put together a motion picture filming location tour so I felt it was time to sift through the long list of movies that were filmed on location in Georgia in hopes of finding another film that sparked my interest. This time, however, my girlfriend Savannah helped me with the decision-making process since we recently visited the filming locations for one of my favorite childhood televisions shows – The Dukes of Hazzard.
After spending some time weeding though the portfolio of films we finally landed on a popular film that follows the story of two childhood sweethearts from Alabama who marry, separate, argue, argue some more, and then ultimately rekindle their relationship. This Cinderella story with a twist is none other than the movie, Sweet Home Alabama.
Sweet Home Alabama is a, admittedly charming, romantic comedy directed by Andy Tennant released in 2002. Reese Witherspoon stars as Melanie Carmichael, a small-town girl from Alabama who moves to the Big Apple to become a fashion designer and in the process finds herself engaged to the mayor’s son, Andrew Hennings – the most eligible bachelor in the city. Shortly after Melanie accepts Andrew’s marriage proposal she travels back to Alabama to take care of some unfinished business – begging her “dumb-stubborn-redneck-hick”-husband, Jake, to sign the divorce papers that he’s been avoiding for the last 7 years. That’s when the fun begins.
Although the movie was set in the fictional town of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, it was filmed almost entirely in Georgia. You see, Pigeon Creek is actually the name of a waterway that runs through the southern section of Butler County, Alabama. It’s not a real town. Oh, and Greenville, it also sits in the same county as the waterway. There you go, now you know where the town names in the movie originated. Okay, wait, don’t be disappointed Alabamians, there is one scene in the film that was shot in Alabama. The scene when Melanie drives by the historic homes immediately after she passes the “Welcome to Greenville” sign was shot in Eufaula.
If you’re wondering why a film titled Sweet Home Alabama isn’t filmed in the state of Alabama, but instead shot in the neighboring state of Georgia, here’s why: The film industry in Georgia has become a hot spot over the years for filming both featured films and television shows due to its favorable tax incentives, awesome weather, diverse topography, and the number of production studios on deck ready to handle any shoot. In fact, at the time of this writing, Georgia ranks among the Top 10 most desirable filming locations in the world. So, in my opinion, that’s definitely a recipe to entice the Hollywood folks to do more filming in the state.
As for the Georgia filming locations, the film was shot in Atlanta, Crawfordville, Conyers, Fayetteville, Rome, and Sharpsburgh during the winter months. I’ll be publishing a blog post in the next week or so to share the physical addressees of all the filming locations so this way fans of the film will have an opportunity to explore the town of Pigeon Creek themselves some day. Stay tuned!
So once Savannah and I decided to tour the Sweet Home Alabama filming locations I knew we had our work cut out for us since preliminary research resulted in vague details about some of the locations. What else is new! However, after spending a little more time doing research and receiving tips from someone who worked on the film back in 2001 we managed to find 16 filming locations.
On Friday, July 18, 2014, myself, Savannah, and our pups, Hunter and Chloe, began our two-day journey through Pigeon Creek to check out all the filming locations. On the first day we traveled east of Atlanta to visit a few locations and then the following day we traveled north and south of Atlanta to finish up the tour.
The following 40+ pages include more than 80 then-and-now photos, then-and-now slideshow, video of the filming locations stitched in with scenes from the movie, and behind-the-scenes photos. There’s a lot of cool content just ahead so let’s get started…