Atlantan trades struggling real estate market for film industry career

Mary Louise Freeman grew up in metro Atlanta. As an adult, she worked in residential real estate. So it’s safe to say she knows the ins and outs of the city and its multitude of neighborhoods.

That intricate knowledge turned out to be invaluable after the real estate crash of the late 2000s threw Mary Louise a tough economic curve. With the market dwindling, she received a stroke of luck when a TV commercial crew asked if they could take footage of her front porch for a Georgia Lotto commercial.Mary Louise Freeman

From that, Mary Louise quickly built relationships and learned skills that brought her a new career in Georgia’s $10 billion film and TV production industry. As a location scout and assistant location manager, she’s thrilled to see the industry helping so many everyday Georgians.

Her first movie was “The Internship,” which any Atlantan could tell was filmed partly on the Georgia Tech campus.

She also worked on the current smash “Baby Driver,” which showcases countless spots all over town in a way that’s almost a love letter to Atlanta.

Mary Louise loves her work as a scout and an assistant location manager. Her real estate background helps her go into neighborhoods and talk to any residents who have questions. “We’re such a big footprint that some people will have concerns and want to talk to us,” she says.

To find locations, scouts read scripts, take direction from the production designer and director, and then do the shoe-leather work of knocking on doors, leaving letters, and looking for certain kinds of places.

Her real estate background was “huge” when getting started, she said. “It just felt very natural and easy to sit down in a living room and talk to homeowners and let them know what was going on” with questions about noise, traffic or other potential issues.

“It’s fun and it’s hard work,” she said. “But it’s also very satisfying.”

And the economic base of steady work in a growing industry has put her back on solid economic ground.

The benefits extend to homeowners who receive payment if their properties are used, and to local businesses that get an influx of revenue.

“It’s spreading the joy,” she said. “A lot of people and businesses are affected, and it’s very positive.”

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