It has all the makings of a binge-worthy television series. Coming-of-age frivolity, a mysterious disappearance, conflict between the haves and the have-nots, and an epic treasure hunt involving a 19th century ship full of gold. And it was filmed right here in the Charleston area last summer.
The wildly popular teen drama “Outer Banks” debuted in April on Netflix and was soon ranked among the top 10 shows in the country. But here’s a plot twist many may not know. The show, which follows the adventures of main character John B. and his friends, has ties to the Daniel Island/Cainhoy peninsula area. Several local residents served as extras on the show, one island artist had her work featured on the sets, some of the cast reportedly stayed at an apartment complex on Daniel Island, and nearly all of the interior scenes were filmed on a temporary soundstage off Clements Ferry Road.
Furman University pre-law student Nick Curcio of Daniel Island has served as a background actor, or extra, for a number of productions in the Lowcountry over the last six years, including “Outer Banks” (OBX).
“There really was a nice sense of camaraderie,” he said of the atmosphere on set. “And not just between the extras, but also between the extras and the actors.”
Courtney Kretly, who also lives on the island, worked on set as an extra for four days.
“It was a fantastic experience,” she said. “And it was so fun seeing myself on Netflix!”
“I did a week of ‘night shoots,’ with a call time at 3 to 4 p.m.,” added Rikke Fryman, a former island resident who recently moved to Denmark. “Working until 3 to 4 a.m., sometimes 7 a.m. depending on the scene.”
Fryman and her friend, Louise Rakers, who also lives in the area, played reporters as part of the “media crew” at a police staging area on the show.
“It was such a wild experience,” Rakers said. “I was actually really amazed by these young actors, how professional they were and how they were able to stand and joke with each other and laugh and then go from that into the role right away.”
Island resident Rob Preiditsch was an extra in episodes 5 and 9.
“We had some long days, but we met the stars and they were all professional, and kindly acknowledged us all,” said Preiditsch. “We had no idea of the storyline … I was way off on my idea of how it would turn out. I love watching shows that have plot twists — and this one had plenty!”
Isabel Petyak, also of Daniel Island, worked about nine different days.
“The cool thing was that during those 12-hour shifts, only about three or four scenes would be filmed,” noted Petyak, a nursing student at the College of Charleston. “It really gave me a perspective of what the film industry was like and how long it takes to film a movie or TV show.”
“OBX was a lot of fun,” added Derrick Lemmon, who was a stand-in for main actor Charles Esten on the show, and also an extra. “Everybody on set was just so nice.”
According to Leslie Keel, who served as art director for the production, most of the interior shots were actually filmed just a few miles down Clements Ferry Road from Daniel Island, in a large, vacant building off Charleston Regional Parkway. The site became the show’s “stage,” said Keel, and an important workspace for building and creating sets. Scenes inside the police station, the basement, the well, some of the lighthouse interiors, and the top of the church bell tower were all filmed there. The site also housed set decorating materials, wardrobe, and more.
“Basically, that’s where we would build and gather,” said Keel. “…That really did become our home away from home.”
Also taking part in the production from the local community was Daniel Island artist Amanda McLenon. Several of McLenon’s pieces were purchased by the show to be used on set.
“The fact that they thought my work represented Lowcountry décor and the vibe of the Outer Banks was a huge compliment,” said McLenon.
Utilizing local artisans and vendors was very important, noted set decorator Missy Ricker. She and her team shopped with over 200 independently owned stores in Charleston and surrounding areas. McLenon’s work in particular fit in nicely with the coastal themes of the show’s storyline, she said.
“I love her work as she often juxtaposes painted birds, crabs, or other coastal creatures on top of maps of our waterways,” added Ricker.
But the Daniel Island and Cainhoy peninsula connections to the show didn’t end there. Some of the scenes involving the Volkswagen van, nicknamed “Twinkie,” were filmed on Daniel Island, said Keel. And at least a couple of the main cast members likely stayed at the Central Island Square apartment community during filming, judging by photos posted by the actors on their Instagram pages (although a spokesperson for apartment complex would not confirm or deny this information, citing privacy standards for all residents).
Already, perhaps due in part to the show’s cliff-hanger ending, there is talk of a Season 2. Many of the Daniel Island extras, including Petyak, hope to be a part of that production as well.
“I have a feeling next time they film in Charleston, it’s going to be a lot harder to get a spot due to the show being so popular!”