Did you know that the Originals was not filmed in New Orleans? While the ornate balconies, mardi gras celebrations, and voodoo shops you see on screen are convincing, they were filmed far from the authentic French Quarter!
In reality, aside from a few scenes filmed on location for the pilot episode, the Originals was shot almost entirely in the small town of Conyers, Georgia! Today, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how Conyers became Georgia’s French Quarter™ and the Originals filming location!
Olde Town Conyers & the Originals
Like many southern towns, Conyers has a charming Olde Town section that dates back to the 1800s. Along Center Street and Commercial Street, brick shops of all sizes and shapes line up side-by-side, each boasting a different exterior color and style.
On a typical day, visitors can enjoy an old-fashioned soda fountain, boutique shops and restaurants, and a historic train depot in a quiet, southern atmosphere. If you didn’t know that the Originals was filmed here, you’d never even suspect it!
However, Conyers was no stranger to the Vampire Diaries saga, making it a convenient and familiar place to continue the story. During the filming of the Vampire Diaries, the cast made several trips to Conyers. For example, the Olde Town train station, Celtic Tavern, and The Pointe were used in “We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street,” an episode based in New Orleans. It was only natural that the New Orleans-based series would continue in Conyers, especially with its close proximity to Atlanta and the multiple film studios in town.
Transforming Olde Town into the French Quarter
In early 2013, Old Towne began a series of significant transformations that turned its quiet Georgia streets into a bustling NOLA district.
One of the primary filming locations, Center Street, underwent a total cosmetic makeover that included fresh paint, ornate balconies, and new street signs, like Rue St. Anne and Rue Dauphine. Some of the shops, like the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop, were fitted with false fronts to add more height or character to the existing design. The set crew even added authentic-looking archways to one of the town’s simple brick alleys, turning it into the iconic entrance to the Compound.
These changes stayed in place for all 5 years of filming! Some shops also chose to keep their Originals signs up the whole time, in addition to their real business displays. And once filming ended, a few of the shops down on Commercial Street, including the building that served as Rousseau’s, decided to keep their balconies, giving the street a permanent bit of New Orleans flair.
Throughout the show, other parts of the town became small pockets of New Orleans as needed. A parking lot served as the Witches Cauldron, while the town’s spacious alleys became cute bistros with lights and plenty of seating.
The crews would bring Mardis Gras beads, ferns, trees, furniture, or street lights to turn the Georgia landscape into a French Quarter locale. They even had special equipment that could control what time of day each scened appeared to take place in! These small changes would be set up and wholly torn down within a few hours of filming the necessary scene so that Conyers could get back to business as usual.
The final piece of the set was a green screen that allowed them to add a New Orleans backdrop to Center Street. This versatile element helped cement the idea that all the action really took place in the French Quarter.
Other Originals Filming Locations in Conyers
While much of the filming took place on Olde Town’s streets, a fair bit of filming happened inside the studio as well.
For example, the pilot episode features Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans, but after the first episode, the cemetery was recreated on set with Styrofoam headstones! The Mikaelson compound, Rousseau’s, and most other interiors were set creations as well. Another surprising Conyers location is the bayou. The bayou was actually filmed at a pond on the studio grounds! They just added a cabin and a rickety pier to sell the scene.
Additionally, most of the inside scenes were shot on set, rather than in actual buildings. For example, The Sandwich Shop is shown frequently as the exterior to Rousseau’s, but the interior wasn’t actually used for filming. Only a few locations in town had filming done inside. The one that they used the most was the Celtic Tavern restaurant on Commercial Street, whose bar and restaurant were featured in several episodes.
Visiting the Originals Filming Locations
We’d love to show you around Olde Town Conyers! Our tour guides were on-site for all five seasons of filming, giving them unparalleled insights into each filming location in town. Contact us about setting up a tour, and come see exactly where your favorite scenes happened!