Alex Harris: Our Strange New Land - LENSCRATCH

Alex Harris’ new book, Our Strange New Land (co-edited with Margaret Sartor), looks to reframe the question “How do you tell the story of the American South?” Based in Durham, North Carolina, Harris knows it’s a region with a complicated history; a legacy

Finding Truth and Fiction on Film Sets in the South

Are Alex Harris’s film-set photographs in “Our Strange New Land” documentary-style stills or new and “natural” scenes unto themselves?

From the desk where I write this, in my house in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of downtown Atlanta, I could toss a hunk of Georgia red clay and hit the bungalow where the actor Jason Momoa was rumored to have lived while shooting “The Red Road,” a discontinued TV series set in the fictional town of Walpole, New Jersey. That house sits beside a former field where a façade was erected, in 2013, to shoot a scene set in Rhode Island for the movie “Dumb and Dumber To.” Around the same time, a casting director spotted a friend of mine—a lawyer, not an actor—walking his dog. This friend, who can grow a great mustache, ended up in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” That film was also shot here, although its drama takes place in San Diego and New York. Not that all the productions based nearby have depicted other places: Donald Glover’s show “Atlanta,” on FX, is mainly shot in and around town. The famous “Teddy Perkins” episode, from Season 2, was filmed, it turns out, in the same mansion that was depicted, three decades ago, as a retirement home at the end of “Driving Miss Daisy,” which also was set in Atlanta.