‘Dead City’ takes over the Mill City – Lowell Sun

‘Dead City’ takes over the Mill City – Lowell Sun

LOWELL — It takes a whole lot of living and breathing people to make a zombie apocalypse show, and dozens of them were busy setting up shots for an afternoon filming of “The Walking Dead: Dead City” on Market Street in Downtown Lowell on Tuesday.

Stars Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan were not spotted during the prep, but they have been spotted during previous filming of the series that has also taken place at the St. Jean Baptiste Church on Merrimack Street.

The producers describe the series as a horror drama in which the main characters are fighting to stay alive following a zombie apocalypse. Part of the filming for season two, which is set to premiere in 2025, is being shot in Lowell.

The production company pulled the filming permits through the city’s Cultural Affairs & Special Events office, Director Peter Crewe said by email on Tuesday. Street parking was restricted to production vehicles, of which there were many, including a truck that was loaded with hanging clothes, many of them in various stages of disrepair.

Another one unloaded period pieces such as rotary-dial phone booths, newspaper boxes and old street signs.

The Lowell Police Department closed Market Street between Shattuck and Palmer streets as crews transformed the bucolic cityscape into a desolate and decaying apocalyptic New York City zombiescape.

Lowell Police Officer Conor Costello was patrolling the approach to Market Street at Palmer Street, directing traffic and keeping pedestrians out of the street where the film crews were setting up.

When asked his schedule, he said he would be on duty “from 83 to 95 degrees,” humorously referencing the blistering hot day in which temperatures were expected to soar to almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The shade provided some protection and comfort for some local spectators like Lee Cullinan, who said she stumbled across the film set while walking back to her car from Brew’d Awakening for a morning coffee.

“I sat with what turns out to be some of the crew in the coffee shop,” she said while dodging equipment carts loaded with gear rumbling along the sidewalk in front of Lala Books. “They yelled out to me when they saw me on the sidewalk.”

The owner of the Coffee Mill Emporium on Palmer Street said she took a break from running the store to check out this what she called a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to see filmmaking magic.

“A couple customers — living customers — came in and told me to check it out,” Pina Amato, of Methuen, said, spoofing the zombie theme.

By 1 p.m., the temperature was already 93 degrees. Security cleared the sidewalks and an almost two-story light platform was rolled into place next to the condominium building at Canal Place 1.

The hottest day of the year so far put set lighting technician Dave in an apocalyptic frame of mind. His T-shirt was soaked through, and he said he was looking for the set canteen to cool off and grab a bite to eat and something cold to drink. Tuesday’s heat, he said, was “without mercy.”

“We rig lights to it,” he said, gesturing at the enormous light structure parked by the condominium complex. “All that material on the front is a diffuser to soften the light and make it more flattering and gentler.”

Prep activity increased as car handlers positioned newspaper trucks, police cars, taxis and other period vehicles, that one would have seen in a once-thriving metropolis, into place. That work was followed by a crew that let the air out of all the tires. A cacophonous hissing sound filled the air. A greens crew scattered leaves and yard debris around and on the broken-down vehicles as a prop crew threw faux litter on the street and a prop designer sprayed movie-set grime on a New York Post truck.

Then, just like before a zombie attack, the street went silent. A metal can rolled against a curb, but there was still no sign of the actors, nor any of the “walkers” or “chompers,” which are among the franchise’s many names for the zombies. Slowly, the crowd started to thin out.

One of them was Angie, of Lowell, who said getting a ringside seat at how “Dead City” was made was a treat. But the unrelenting heat had her thinking of another kind of treat: A large iced coffee from the Coffee Mill.

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