Like the town of Hawkins, Indiana before it, something strange is going on in the town of Winden, setting for Netflix’s mystery drama Dark.
The story begins with a missing teenager, and a series of unexplained events threaten to overwhelm four families living in the town.
In Dark, the setting for the series – tall trees, dark forest, subterranean caves and small town community – only adds to the sense of mystery. It’s a bleak place, designed to unnerve.
Given that international viewers might not know much about the German setting, we asked creators Baran bo Odarn and Jantje Friese to tell us a little more about Dark’s creepy setting.
Is the town of Winden in Dark a real place?
Sadly, no: the small town next to a nuclear power plant is not actually a real town in Germany.
“It’s a fictional town,” Dark writer Jantje Friese. “We deliberately wanted that because we didn’t want to colour it with a specific Bavarian or northern German setting. We wanted it to be somewhere that could be everywhere.”
However, their real history did inform how they saw the location: “We both come from small towns, so you can probably find both our birth towns in there a little bit,” Friese added.
Where is Netflix’s Dark filmed?
Surprisingly, despite the spooky woodland setting, the production team behind the series found the ideal location less than an hour from the German capital of Berlin.
“We actually shot in Berlin,” Friese said. “Actually, once you go a few minutes from the city centre, Berlin basically becomes a village. We picked various different places: a house here, a house there. But all the locations are shot around Berlin.”
Director Baran bo Odar said the forest proved the ideal setting for Dark’s dark vision.
Dark Season 1 (Netflix)
“The forest is about an hour away from the city centre,” he said. “The soil here is very dry, so you get a lot of coniferous, long straight trees. They feel for me very creepy, like a fairytale forest.
“I love those long straight trees – they’re like jail bars. Visually it’s very interesting.”
The action in the series also covers three different time periods: 2019, 1986, and 1953. Each new location therefore had to be redesigned to suit the particular era.
“As I directed all the episodes, we treated the entire thing like a very long feature film,” Odar said. “We told ourselves we were doing a ten-hour feature film, so we shot it chronologically.
“We shot everything in the woods, then everything in the school; we then had a weekend in between to redress the school from the present time to the 80s. We also have another timeline in the 50s, so we had to deal with that. But we stayed in one location and redressed it.”
While a German show, the filmmakers believe the series easily translates for a global audience.
“We always work in a way that we try to tell a story that works everywhere,” Odar said. “All of our projects so far have been well received internationally, because we want to reach a broad audience.
“We don’t believe in local stuff, we don’t believe in genre – we just believe in good stories.”
Netflix’s Dark Seasons 1-2 are available to stream now.