Three months ago, Hartland's David McClone moved to Atlanta to take a chance on his dreams of working in film. Today, the 23-year-old is part of one of the most talked-about shows on television.
Setting off on a new and unknown path, the 2007 Hartland High School graduate left his home state to follow the advice he received from Seth Zimmerman, a location manager for the AMC series, The Walking Dead.
The risk paid off for the 23-year-old, who within weeks of arriving in Georgia, was offered a job as a location production assistant on set.
It wasn’t always a “straight path” according to McClone, but after graduating with a degree in Film and Video Production from Ball State, the aspiring filmmaker said he was determined to create his own opportunities in life.
In 2011, after a four-month internship with Mandate Pictures in California, McClone had returned home, hoping to benefit from the film incentives Michigan had been offering.
With the film industry “disappearing” within the state however, McClone said he started to get frustrated and reached out through email to Zimmerman.
“He (Zimmerman) said if you want to be in film, you have to live where the work is,” McClone said.
Now, McClone spends his days working on zombie-filled sets, explaining that his job entails "anything that has to with the location." The days can be long and stressful, according to McClone. But when the show premiered last month to a record-breaking audience, the 70-hour work weeks all became worth it for him.
“I worked for a month and a half before a show ever aired on AMC for season three and you get so used to going to work every day and seeing it as a job,” McClone said. “And then all of a sudden, the premier shows and it’s breaking all these records and everyone’s talking about it.
“Then it hits you again and you realize that you’re working on one of the most popular shows on TV."
For the young Hartland native, getting paid to work on a film set is a dream come true; he also admits to pinching himself sometimes to make sure it’s all real.
“I was always interested in movies,” McClone said. “But when you live in the Midwest, it’s more like a fantasy – you don’t actually believe it exists.”
With the third season wrapping up, McClone said he has the opportunity to go work for other crews that are working nearby including The Vampire Diaries or The Hunger Games, which are all shooting in the Atlanta area.
Filming season four of The Walking Dead will resume again in March and next season, McClone hopes to become a production assistant for the camera crew, working his way up to hopefully one day getting behind the camera.
He also has a promise back home to keep to his friends from Hartland High School.
“I always told them if I ever make it, you guys will be in,” McClone said, laughing. “They’re already talking about coming down and being extras as zombies - that would be a blast.”