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'Nashville' comes to Franklin

Brandy Blanton
Mark Ragland, one of two location managers for “Nashville” was onsite at the Franklin Theatre on Monday while a scene of the show was filmed inside.

The ABC hit television show, “Nashville” filmed “on location” earlier this week at The Franklin Theatre.

Main Street was a bit hectic Monday morning as production crews moved into downtown to prepare for the daylong shoot.

Filming centered on a scene featuring the live concert of rising Edgehill artist Layla Grant (Aubrey Peeples). Layla’s character is the runner up of ‘American Hitmaker’, a reality show debuting vocal contestants—anyone of whom could be the next big country star.

 The Williamson Herald had the chance to sit down with Mark Ragland, one of two location managers for “Nashville.”  Ragland’s job entails scouting out locations. 

“With each episode taking 8-9 days to shoot sometimes the schedule dictates the location. Everything needs to be relatively close. You’ve got to take advantage of proximity.”

“Oftentime, on the last day of shooting a particular episode we double up” says Ragland, “which means we begin shooting the next episode as we finish up the episode at hand.”

He estimated that filming would bring in about 300 “extras”, as well as a crew of about 200.

The grueling 12-hour-day consists of prepping, wrapping and shooting. “Crews are on location two hours early to prep. And clean up crews are on-site up to two hours later cleaning up.”

The Franklin Theatre is the second Williamson County site to be used on the show. A previous episode featured the Darryl Waltrip Automotive Dealership with a scene involving Rayna James (Connie Britton) and Luke Wheeler (Will Chase) who were at a NASCAR-sponsored event where Luke had surprised Rayna with a NASCAR—outfitted with her picture on the hood of the car.

A performance stage was built as part of the set. “It was the first time we have really been able to see Franklin on the show.”

When asked if more Williamson County sites would be featured in future episodes, Ragland replied, “We never know more than three weeks ahead of time what we will be looking for in terms of locations to shoot. But yes, areas like Leipers Fork and other areas in Williamson County are very important to the culture of the show.” “I had the opportunity to meet Aubrey Preston. He is a nice guy and was supportive of us shooting in Williamson County.”

“When we were looking to shoot the scene for Layla’s concert, we were looking for a 500 seat venue to do a concert performance. We considered The Belcourt (in Nashville) and various other clubs and auditoriums. The architectural integrity of The Franklin Theater was exactly what we were looking for.”

As the show approached its second season, speculation abounded that shooting might be relocated to California. Asked how he felt a move might have affected the show’s authenticity, Ragland said:

“The decision was not mine to make. As long as we continue to film as we do, it would be difficult to do in Los Angeles. We are committed to making this town look good.”

Ragland’s location work includes major motion pictures like, “The Green Mile” and “Water for Elephants” and 2013’s “Stoker” starring Nicole Kidman.
In comparing the experiences, he says, “the pace is very different for a movie compared to a weekly episodic television show. You have a lot more time, typically 3 or 4 months, to prep a location used in a movie. With “Nashville” you don’t have that luxury. Normally, an episode is done in two to three weeks.”

When “Nashville” shot an episode at The Ingram Farm during the Chukkers for Charity event last fall, the show made a donation to the charity’s beneficiaries, The Rochelle Center and Saddle Up. Harlinsdale Farm was also considered as the location for that same episode. Although, logistically they were not able to shoot the scene at Harlinsdale, the show also made a donation to Friends of Franklin Parks, LLC.

“We think that is important”, Ragland said, “We think that is the right thing to do. We want to support the locations that we use.”

Cassie Jones can be reached at  

Posted on: 2/13/2014


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