Several dozen people meandered around with purpose in the Pier Village parking lot Wednesday morning on St. Simons Island, their paths crisscrossing and diverging as tasks warranted.
Then a tall guy said, “Action!”
It turns out they really do say that on movie sets.
The guy’s cue focused everyone’s attention to a lady perched on a bicycle rolling down Mallery Street. The tireless front forks of the bicycle were actually staked to a sort of low-riding wagon, which was attached to the back end of a golf cart. In addition to the driver and a passenger in the front seat of the golf cart, a cameraman sat in the rear seat facing the actress and filming the whole thing for the upcoming Netflix series, “Pieces of Her.”
Katy Broderick was brand new to the film business, but she caught on quickly. Perched behind the handlebars of her own bicycle, she peered through the bustle of set workers and honed in on the “action.”
“OK, yeah, so I didn’t realize, but she’s in a police outfit,” Broderick said in a hushed tone at the back of the parking lot near Brogen’s pub.
Broderick was just up at the tennis courts at Mallery Park with her Dad when she heard the scuttlebutt about Netflix doing some filming down here. She just had to come see for herself.
“This is fascinating,” she said.
Then she noticed that something called “Belle Isles Bait Shop” was now standing in for what has been St. Simons Bait Shop since island time immemorial.
“This is really cool,” said Broderick, an Athens resident whose family has a place on the island. “I think it’s one of the best places around. And I love that they wanted to come here to little ol’ St. Simons, Georgia, of all places, to shoot a piece for their movie.”
So much so that her hushed tones got a little animated.
“Sh! Sh! Sh!,” the tall guy shushed her politely.
But it was not just Broderick. A lot of folks who stood off in the shadows got caught up in the moviemaking spectacle, their church murmurs collectively elevating in volume.
“It’s amazing how scenes get stitched together,” said Marie Fischer, a Manhattanite who stopped in with husband Bill on St. Simons Island for the night on their way back from Florida.
Netflix received county permission to close down Mallery Street along the quaint village shopping district between the St. Simons Pier and Kings Way to film a scene for “Pieces of Her.” They also had planned to film yet another actress-on-a-bicycle scene Tuesday at Poplar Avenue and Mallery Street, but that shoot apparently did not pan out.
County police officers assisted with road closures.
The upcoming thriller series is based on the best-selling Karin Slaughter novel of the same name. Belle Isles is the sleepy seaside town that heroine Andrea Cooper calls home. The series will star actors Toni Collette, Nicholas Burton and Bella Heathcote, among others.
Which actress plays the bicycle cop was anybody’s guess outside of the set’s insiders.
And although polite and friendly, the army of a crew that was on hand to film the scene was not talking. Those who have not read the book will have to wait for the Netflix premiere of “Pieces of Her” to gain more insight.
In addition to all the folks with headsets, “Security” creds, tool belts, and radios clipped to their hips, several tractor-trailers and other large trucks filled the side of the parking lot that abutts Neptune Park.
There was even a pit crew for the bicycle. They put the front tire back on the bike, and the golf cart camera crew filmed it all over again, this time with the actress pedaling herself down Mallery Street.
Maureen Jenkinson stepped away from her volunteer gig at the county library at Neptune Park’s Casino to see what all the hullaballoo was about.
“I saw all the cops, but I didn’t see anyone getting arrested, so I figured it must be a movie,” the Darien resident said. “It’s interesting, like how they set the bike on the track behind the golf cart earlier. I don’t watch Netflix, but I can’t wait to tell my daughter about this.”
Standing beside Jenkinson, Jody Furr thought the Pier Village’s throwback hodgepodge of brightly colored and aging shops, boutiques and restaurants make a natural setting for filmmakers seeking a unique backdrop.
“I guess there’s something about the pier area, the lighthouse area,” said Furr, owner of Moo Cow Ice Cream, just up the road on Ocean Boulevard. “It has a charm to it. It feels like the ‘50s except for the (modern) cars. I guess that’s the attraction.”
Long-time islander Dave Zimmerman did not mind the interruption to his daily walk through the Village with Oliver, his wire-haired fox terrier.
“I think it’s healthy, all positive to have a movie filming here,” Zimmerman said. “Everybody who comes here feels the same way. They care about it.”