Sometimes, the setting of a show is just as important as the characters or the plot. The location sets the tone and feel of the story, and can almost take on a life of its own. This is certainly true for HBO's new miniseries, Sharp Objects, where the setting of Wind Gap, Missouri is in some ways the most important aspect of the show. But where is Sharp Objects filmed, and how does the setting play an integral role in the series?
Fortunately for everyone who felt a small chill run down their spine during the premiere episode, Wind Gap, Missouri is a fictional town, a product of writer Gillian Flynn's imagination. Flynn, the author behind the novel on which the series is based, is from Missouri, but used her familiarity with the state to craft a fictional town. “[Wind Gap, Missouri] was largely imaginary,” Flynn told HBO, “It’s not based on any particular town. But I knew I wanted [Wind Gap] to be a town of violence that Camille grew up in.”
As the series begins, reporter Camille Preaker (played by Amy Adams) returns to her hometown of Wind Gap in order to cover the murder of two young girls. And the reasons Camille is reluctant to return to Wind Gap have as much to do with the eerie aura of the town as it does her overbearing mother (Patricia Clarkson) and her mysterious half-sister (Eliza Scanlen).
But despite the fact that Wind Gap is a Missouri town, the majority of the series was shot in Barnesville, Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the team behind Sharp Objects stumbled upon the town by accident, while searching for pig farms. Executive producer Gregg Fienberg shared with AJC, “We were looking at a couple of other towns when [director] Jean-Marc Vallée said, ‘Wait a minute. We have to stop here.'" The team was drawn in by the look and feel of the town. "The town has streets coming into it at different angles, which added to the charm and small-town nature of it,” Fienberg said in the same interview.
Even though the small town was briefly overrun by the Sharp Objects team, both members of the HBO crew and residents of Barnesville seemed to walk away with nothing but positive feelings about the whole experience. “It all worked out really well,” Fienberg said to AJC. “I can’t imagine the town being more cooperative. It almost felt like the town was our own back lot.” Niki Sappington, community development director for Barnesville, told AJC that filming was actually beneficial to the Georgia town:
“ A lot of locals were extras,” she said. “Local businesses were compensated if they were impacted. They rented vacant buildings for the art department and props. We saw a tremendous increase in traffic in the downtown area at night. People stuck around trying to see Amy Adams. They’d come and eat at our restaurants and shop at the local stores. It had a positive impact across the board.”
But Sappington was eager to note that the creepy tone of the series should not give fans of the show the wrong idea about Barnesville. "I’ve seen the trailer and read the book. It’s a dark crime thriller,” she told AJC. “That’s not Barnesville.” So diehard fans of the series should not let the eerie nature of Sharp Objects prevent them from making the trek to visit Barnesville, Georgia.
The majority of the rest of the series was shot in California, including Redwood Valley, Santa Clarita, Mendocino, and Los Angeles, according to Heavy. Most notably, Camille's childhood home in Wind Gap is located in Redwood Valley, according to Heavy, and was even featured in a profile on Homes of the Rich. But even though it's a beautiful home, on the show it holds less than happy memories for Camille.
Sharp Objects demonstrates that with the right team of talented professionals, even the most beautiful of locations can take on a new, disturbing light. So though Barnesville, Georgia and the home in Redwood Valley, California, might be beloved by those who live there, when they are placed in the fictional Wind Gap, Missouri, they become utterly terrifying.