Another Washington-set series is on the way, but once again it’s filmed in Vancouver, B.C.
Apple TV+ mystery-drama “Home Before Dark,” premiering on the streamer April 3 and already renewed for a second season, follows 9-year-old journalist Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”) and her family as they move from New York to the fictional Erie Harbor in Holmes County, Washington, which is her father Matthew’s (Jim Sturgess, “Cloud Atlas”) hometown.
Hilde’s older sister mocks Hilde’s ability to churn out many articles in their new town: “What are you going to report on in Erie Harbor anyway? An American flag that beat up an apple pie?”
Clearly she’s never watched “Twin Peaks.”
The “Home Before Dark” story is inspired by real-life kid journalist Hilde Lysiak, whose life story also included a move (albeit from New York City to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania) and covering a murder. Fictional Hilde begins a murder investigation in the first episode of “Home Before Dark.”
Series co-creator Dara Resnik said the change in locale from real-life to the TV show was an effort to not adhere too closely to the real Hilde’s story. Resnik said she also appreciated the sense of mystery the Pacific Northwest offers as a backdrop.
As for the name of the fictional town, it’s an ode to the Erie in Pennsylvania (the state where the real Hilde lived) and Mount Erie in Skagit County. Resnik imagines Erie Harbor exists somewhere in the western half of the state.
“It’s driving distance to Seattle and is near several of the Native American reservations that are there,” she said. “We have a Native American [story] thread throughout the season and that entire region is so steeped in Native history.”
TV show producers always seek out state film tax credits but because Washington’s production incentive program is small compared to some other states, “Home Before Dark” producers never considered filming in Washington.
“We talked very briefly about Oregon, but all of their tax credits had been given away,” Resnik said. “And then Vancouver had space for us and we went and scouted up there and it was so full of these mysterious forests and dense trees and fields if we needed them. Ultimately, Vancouver was absolutely the right decision.”
Because “Home Before Dark” is both a murder mystery and the story of a family with a child as the show’s lead character, producers acknowledge settling on a tone proved tricky.
“That’s also been the central question, and we were asked that time and time again, over and over again: ‘Who is this for?’ ” said co-creator Dana Fox at an Apple TV+ press conference in January during the Television Critics Association 2020 winter press tour in Pasadena, California. “We just felt really strongly that we wanted to make something that we had never actually seen before, which is a sophisticated drama that had a protagonist that was a young female at its core. … I wanted to treat Hilde and Brooklynn as seriously as Benedict Cumberbatch gets treated on ‘Sherlock’ or any of these guys get to do on their shows.”
Fox says “Home Before Dark” is not a kids show just because it stars a child actor. But she thinks the multiple entry points (the parents for adults, Hilde for kids) will encourage families — probably those with older children — to watch “Home Before Dark” together.
“We’re really hopeful though that this will be something that creates a sense of connection between families,” Fox said, “because central to that whole experience as a child that I had is that I was sitting on the couch with my mom, my dad, my brother, and we were talking about stuff, and we were holding each other because we were scared, and it was creating a sense of connection. That’s something that I feel like we don’t have much of when we’re all staring down at our phones and our devices.”
“Home Before Dark” — all 10 episodes of the show’s first season will be available to Apple TV+ subscribers starting April 3.