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Where Was Netflix's Florida Man Actually Filmed?

Traditional adaptations of books don't always cut it these days. More and more, producers and writers are looking to businesses and specific products as a storytelling entry point (look no further than "Tetris" and "Air"). "Florida Man," however, has the distinct honor of stemming from a meme. The "Florida man" phenomenon gained traction circa 2013, when folks took notice of the wacky, absurdist headlines that emerge from the Sunshine State (a perfunctory Google search yields a perfect example from South Florida's Local 10 News: "Florida man arrested after wife hit with flying chicken wings").

For creator and Florida native Donald Todd, his home state is certainly a hotbed of mug shots and headlines, but it's also a perfect setting for a crime thriller. "The brightest sun casts the darkest shadows, so people can hide in shadows," Todd told Netflix. "All of that creates an ethos that's perfect for a bright and noirish crime story."

Todd effectively captures Florida's essence for the small screen — except for the small detail that it's actually filmed in North Carolina. Florida's freedom of information laws may make it easier for local journalists to pick up zany stories, but the state apparently can't compete with North Carolina's film tax incentives.

North Carolina is a filming hub

You can take the man out of Florida, but you can't take the Florida out of the man. That's the gist of the new series from Donald Todd and executive producer Jason Bateman, which follows disgraced Philadelphia cop Mike Valentine (Edgar Ramírez). To pay off his gambling debts to local mob boss Moss Yankov (Emory Cohen), Valentine is forced to do grunt work — including returning to his home state of Florida to retrieve the mobster's runaway girlfriend, Delly West (Abbey Lee).

North Carolina is an apt stand-in for the Sunshine State, and shots of the glistening Atlantic coast abound. Filming occurred in the coastal city of Wilmington for five months in 2021. Owing to the state's tax incentives and agreeable weather, North Carolina is a popular shooting location, hosting everything from "The Hunger Games" to "Dawson's Creek" to "The Last of the Mohicans." Ironically, however, "Outer Banks" was filmed in South Carolina.

To adopt the Florida mindset, Ramírez chatted extensively with Floridian Todd, and also visited the state. "I went to the places that inspired the story ... to look at the characters, the atmosphere in the air and the mood that inspired the show," the actor told ABC News.

For Todd, Florida is as much a state of mind as it is a place, making the North Carolina shooting less of a faux pas. "A 'Florida man' is someone who's proudly independent and doesn't live by your code," he said, "which means he doesn't live by any code."