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Few shows in the history of television have had to work as hard to keep secrets from viewers as The Walking Dead, and it's still a relatively new phenomenon for everyone working on the show, since the first few seasons weren't privy to the extremes of today's rabid fans. And Negan's introduction provided the biggest cliffhanger mystery yet, so the already bumped up security had to get even more strict. Here's how Jeffrey Dean Morgan explained the extremes the cast and crew went through.
We've had to take so many security measures. People will hang out where we shoot and try to fly drones over the sets. It's a level of crazy I've never experienced. We hide people in vans to get to the sets so you don't know who's coming and who isn't. We shoot Alexandria---the place where a lot of the show is set---in a town called Senoia, Georgia. The town has become this big tourist attraction. It has a Walking Dead coffee shop. People come from all over the world to this 15-foot wall and try to get a glimpse of us shooting.
There were talks about how eleven different takes of the big death scene were filmed in order to prevent leaked footage spoiling anything, but that was mostly hyperbole. Still, the production team did reportedly film multiple versions, as well as possible alternate takes for other scenes. There are people out there who still manage to get looks at who actually is on and around the set on a daily basis -- and AMC is not happy about those people -- but it's not the easiest job in the world now that the show's creative team knows what to expect from onlookers. (Having a giant wall around the town was pretty good planning on Robert Kirkman's part, though perhaps not for the people who actually live there.)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan's answer to Playboy doesn't even give that big a worldview of how show details have been kept on the hush-hush, since the actor is basically only involved with the scenes that Negan is a part of. Robert Kirkman spoke with THR about how they're keeping secrets this season, especially the big victim, and his answer is a bit more technical.
Not sending screeners out [to press] is a big one. There's a lot of extra security measures on distribution and the international dubbing and those things to help prevent the kind of leaks that we've had in the past. There has been a lot of tactics used in filming that have been used on films --- monitoring actor movement and trying to do things in secret. We've employed body doubles in places to make people think that people are in places that they're not. It's pretty exciting to try and hide certain things.
Most fans probably don't think about how having a job in closed captioning or another branch of the telecasting world would put TV spoilers in one's face all the time. There's a whole lot of trust involved (and presumably contractual obligations) in keeping mum on matters like this, in which millions upon millions of people are desperate for answers. Also, I would love to see an episode of The Walking Dead that is just the actors' doubles playing the main characters. That'd be worth waiting another three months for the premiere. (Maybe not.)