Black Mountain returns to the big screen

Fred McCormick

Passing three bright red billboards last week, drivers on North Fork Left Fork might have wondered if they were in an alternative reality.

But actually, they were passing through a set for the movie “Three Buildings Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” directed by Martin McDonagh.

Joining the Oscar-winning director in the filming is actor Frances McDormand, a four-time Academy Award nominee for her roles in movies like “Mississippi Burning” and “Fargo.”

The movie will also star award-winning actors Woody Harrelson and Peter Dinklage, as well as Abbie Cornish and Sam Rockwell.

McDormand plays a mother in fictional Ebbing, Missouri at odds with the police after her daughter is murdered.

A store in Sylva is being used as the police station in the film.

North Fork Left Fork is home to the three billboards from which the film gets its name. On successive billboards, a message reads “Raped while dying, and still no arrests? How come, Chief Willoughby?”

Roger Brown, who owns the property where the billboards are and the production is taking place, said that he was told that filming at the location would be “on and off through June if the weather is good.”

Brown said that crews began to arrive on Monday, April 25.

The movie is not the first to be filmed in the Swannanoa Valley.

Scenes from the yet-to-be-released “Masterminds,” which stars Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson, were filmed in Swannanoa in 2014.

The 2000 film “28 Days” starring Sandra Bullock was filmed at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.