The Duffer Brothers, born and raised in Durham, drop quite a few Durham-area references in the Emmy-winning hit sci-fi series “Stranger Things” that they write, direct and produce. Chuck Liddy Video produced by John Hansen
The Duffer Brothers, born and raised in Durham, drop quite a few Durham-area references in the Emmy-winning hit sci-fi series “Stranger Things” that they write, direct and produce. Chuck Liddy Video produced by John Hansen

Morning Newsletter

North Carolina’s presence will be felt at tonight's Golden Globes, thanks to these buzzy productions

By David Menconi

dmenconi@newsobserver.com

January 07, 2018 01:44 PM

“Stranger Things” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” make North Carolina a solid supporting player at tonight's Golden Globe Awards.

Between the two of them, they're up for eight awards.

The 75th Golden Globe Awards air at 8 p.m. on NBC with host Seth Meyers.

While place doesn’t directly enter into “Three Billboards” all that much, Durham is a major presence in “Stranger Things” thanks to the brotherly duo of writers/directors Matt and Ross Duffer – who were born in the Bull City and sprinkle local references throughout every episode, though it’s set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Ind.

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“Stranger Things,” renewed for a third season, picked up a pair of Golden Globe nominations in the TV series categories:

▪ Best TV series drama

▪ Best supporting actor: David Harbour

“Three Billboards,” which was filmed in the Jackson County town of Sylva last year, though it’s set in Missouri, had six nominations in the Golden Globes’ motion picture categories:

▪ Best drama

▪ Best director: Martin McDonagh

▪ Best dramatic actress: Frances McDormand

▪ Best supporting actor: Sam Rockwell

▪ Best screenplay

▪ Best original score

In recent years, the number of productions filmed in North Carolina has dwindled, along with the significant decrease in the tax incentive program. “Good Behavior,” the TNT drama, is the only scripted TV series filmed in the state this year.

The legislature approved an increase for the 2017 fiscal year. In October, Gov. Roy Cooper, lifted a 2020 expiration date for the rebate program, and legislation has been passed to make the funding recurring, according to the North Carolina Film Office.

“Three Billboards,” an independent film, benefited from a state film grant in 2016 of $3.1 million, which allowed it to film in Jackson and Buncombe counties.

“The incentives offered by the state played a major role in recruiting ‘Three Billboards’ to North Carolina,” said Guy Gaster, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “The town setting and the fact that we had a crew base helped seal the deal. But to get us into the game for consideration, the incentives were a major draw.”

Still, it’s a long cry from the booming film days that once earned North Carolina the nickname of “Hollywood East.” That included television’s “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” and “Iron Man 3” and “The Hunger Games.”

“Dawson’s Creek,” filmed in Wilmington for years, produced stars out of Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, James Van Der Beek and Michelle Williams.

As for Williams, she has been nominated for and won numerous awards over the years. She's up for a Golden Globe nod for Best dramatic actress for her work in “All the Money in the World.”