When watching your favorite shows, whether it be on Netflix, Hulu, or actual cable TV, do you ever catch yourself wondering where all these iconic scenes were shot?
For two Orlando locals, they decided to stop wondering and start exploring.
Ollie Mei and Justin Sparapani took a trip up to the greater Atlanta area of Georgia to check out the filming locations from the third season of “Stranger Things,” now streaming on Netflix. This season was filled with iconic locations, highlighted by the blast-to-the-past that is the Starcourt Mall.
The pair spent an estimated 15 hours researching and planning their “Stranger Things” road trip, hoping to hit all the major stops from the new season, as well as a few filming locations that might be harder for fans to find. Though this wasn’t their first time hunting down the locations related to the Netflix series.
Mei and Sparapani had actually taken a trip to Georgia previously to photograph the filming locations for seasons 1 and 2, but didn’t get to visit all the locations they wanted.
“We [took photos of ‘Stranger Things’ locations] before, and when we left, we didn’t see the Hawkins Lab at that point, we didn’t go to the arcade, we didn’t have time for all that. So I wanted to make a trip for it,” said Sparapani. “We thought it would be really cool to print as many photos as we can and get as many shots as we can.”
Sparapani did most of the research on the filming locations, while Mei was the photographer behind the recreation of the show’s scenes. As for why they chose to take the photos the way they did, the couple agreed that going the extra mile would make their project more interesting.
“We didn’t think that just taking a picture of a location and captioning it would have as much of an impact as actually showing people the scenes from the show and the actors actually being in that scene,” said Mei. “So that’s why we decided to print out the photos and line them up exactly with the buildings in the background to show people exactly what [the show] looked like in comparison to [real life].”
For season 3 of “Stranger Things” alone, the two covered the following locations from the show:
Hawkins Community Pool
Bradley’s Big Buy
The Hawkins Post
One major set of locations the pair avoided, however, were the homes of the famous kids in the show.
“We didn’t go to those areas because we didn’t want to bother the residents. Other people that want to do this location tour should just be respectful of that,” said Mei. “You can tell that [the residents of] Mike’s house and Will’s house don’t want to be bothered.”
The two plan to venture back to Georgia once season 4 of “Stranger Things” is released to add to their ever-growing collection of photos – which also includes locations from other films, including Stephen Spielberg’s “Jaws.”
As for advice for other film and TV fans looking to photograph filming locations? Sparapani had this to share:
“My best suggestion would be to go out, have fun, go to the school, go see the lab, go see the arcade; those places are basically left almost untouched,” said Sparapani. “It’s fun to look at, fun to take pictures with. It comes down to ‘have fun,’ but also ‘be respectful’ and know your limits.”
If you can’t make it out to Georgia to check out these filming locations for yourself, you can experience the thrills and chills of “Stranger Things” at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, with both coasts offering mazes themed to the show’s second and third seasons.