The downtown Jackson area has been undergoing a facelift the past few weeks in preparation for filming to begin on a new Netflix Original Series slated for 2016. The new series, called “Stranger Things” takes place in an Indiana town set in the 1980’s and the revitalization of a number of storefronts has been done with this era in mind, primarily on the north side of the square along Second Street.
Jackson Drug Company and Radio Shack are two of the stores that will feature prominently in shots and both have been given a new color scheme and look for the film. The prop department this week has loaded the front store windows of Radio Shack with a selection of period electronics ranging from console televisions, smaller color as well as black and white TVs, to an Atari game console, a Kenwood stereo component system and a GE cassette tape recorder.
Further down the block, the old Deraney’s Department Store building has been painted as well and transformed into a furniture store with a selection of 1980’s era furniture pieces in the large show windows along the sidewalk. The store had been empty until recently, when Jason Lee Music Store opened in this location. Other stores between Jackson Drugs and Jason Lee Music have also been refreshed and are being prepared for filming, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, November 23rd. Filming is scheduled for the entire day and will likely go beyond the normal business hours of the downtown Jackson square.
Scenes are also planned for the north entrance of the Butts County Courthouse, which will be fitted with temporary wooden doors to give the entrance a different look. Last week, workers from the City of Jackson, Butts County and film production crew removed the old fenced-in enclosure on the north lawn of the courthouse, as well as the old water pipe and concrete around the enclosure. This enclosure had been used for many years to store trash from the courthouse for pickup and many years ago, housed a watering trough that has been gone for decades. It has been replaced with plantings for the shoot and will be eventually sodded to match the grounds of the courthouse when production is completed.
“We have been grateful for the cooperation and interest in Jackson from the people at Netflix, especially Dan Reilly, the Assistant Location Manager” said Government Relations Director Michael Brewer, who also serves as the Georgia Camera Ready Liaison for Butts County. “They have teamed up with with Jeanette Riley, Mayor Kay Pippin and the City of Jackson as well as with my office, the downtown store owners, Downtown Development Authority and others, keeping us informed of what is going on and letting us know what they need to make the shooting a success. The City and County have worked very well together to help them in any way possible and we’re excited that they will showcase our town and community in a positive way”.
During the filming on November 23rd, three sides of the downtown square will be restricted during the time shooting is going on. These include Oak, Mulberry and Second Street. Stores on those streets have been working with the Netflix team to make alternate arrangements for customers on that day. For example, Jackson Drugs will allow for customers to enter their store through the back door that day and there will be people available to show them the way. Some stores on Mulberry Street also have back entrances that open up to the city parking lot behind the Verizon Store and City Pharmacy. Netflix has also worked with local merchants to help make sure they are not adversely affected by shooting schedules.
Probate Court arraignments scheduled for Monday will continue as scheduled but those attending will be required to enter the courthouse through the Third Street entrance. Those going to court will need to park in one of the open City parking lots located around the downtown area as they will not be able to access three of the streets in the area. Uniform officers will be in the area assisting with the street closures and can direct those going to court where they need to go.
Future shoots for the series are planned for unspecified dates in the early part of 2016. The benefits to the downtown area, however, will continue on after film production is complete. Colors used for the painting of the buildings have been drawn from color charts approved by the Downtown Development Authority and will play a part in future planned revitalization efforts. More than that, film production is an economic engine in Georgia that has many positive benefits to the local economy.
They often employ local people to assist with work, utilize local businesses and restaurants and they bring positive attention and tourism to communities. Locations used in other film productions such as those in shows like “The Walking Dead” have become huge tourist draws, bringing more dollars into the community. “We are always glad to get their attention and to welcome them to our community” said Brewer. “They bring a lot to the table, they have a very positive impact on our local economy and they increase our exposure to people looking for interesting places in Georgia to visit. I hope they will continue to look favorably on our county”.
The series itself is set in the 1980s and is about a mystery surrounding a boy who suddenly disappears and the ever-expanding government conspiracy that unravels in its wake. Actress Winona Ryder will play the boy’s single mother who works in a local drugstore while the town’s Chief of Police will be played by David Harbour. In recent developments, Matthew Modine has been cast to play the role of Dr. Martin Brenner, a brilliant but mysterious scientist who may know more than he is letting on. Netflix plans to air the series sometime in 2016.