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The Real Locations in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’: A Guide

February 3, 2020
5 min read

The release of any Quentin Tarantino movie is a special occasion, especially given the legendary American filmmaker’s famous proclamation that he would only ever direct ten major films in his lifetime. This makes the release of his 2019 comedy drama film ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ even more momentous given that it marks his ninth major directorial venture (only if you count both ‘Kill Bill’ movies as one project, as Tarantino himself does). The movie holds a special place in the Tennessee born director’s heart, who considers it representative of his own childhood experiences and his most personal film to date.

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ features an all star ensemble cast consisting of Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, Timothy Olyphant as James Stacy, Al Pacino as Marvin Schwarz, Mike Moh as Bruce Lee, Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring, Bruce Dern as George Spahn and Dakota Fanning as Squeaky.

The movie is set in the city of Los Angeles in 1969, during the last days of the so called “Golden Age of Hollywood”. The story line follows a struggling TV star Rick Dalton and his best friend/stunt double Cliff Booth as they try to regain the success of their heydays, but find themselves increasingly entangled with the infamous Manson family cult. If you were wondering where ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ was filmed, read on to find out everything we know.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Filming Location

As you can imagine, the filming process for a project as ambitious as ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ presented quite a challenge to Tantantino and Co., who had to transform current day Los Angeles into 1969 Los Angeles. The Principal photography for the film took place in a five month period across various locations within Los Angeles itself, with Tarantino enlisting the help of cinematographer Robert Richardson, sound editor Wylie Stateman, production designer Barbara Ling and costume designer Arianne Phillips to recreate the sights and sounds of late 70s Los Angeles.

Tarantino is renowned for his affinity for the use of unique filmmaking techniques and anachronistic equipment and aspect ratios to transport the audience to an entirely different era, and this is the case with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ as well. Cinematographer Robert Richardson was given the mandate to create a retro feeling contemporary world for the film, which he achieved by shooting in Kodak 35 millimeter film with Panavision cameras in order to entwine different time periods seamlessly.

Check out these pictures of Tarantino in action:

Corriganville Park, Simi Valley, California

The expansive and remote Spahn Ranch is shown to be the hideout of the Manson family in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’. The location is inspired by the real life movie ranch of the same name in Los Angeles county that also served as the headquarters of the real Charles Manson and his followers. The ranch was destroyed by wildfires in 1970.

The filming location for the Manson hideout in the movie is the Corriganville Park in Simi Valley, California. Corriganville Park is a popular filming site having hosted thousands of movies, TV shows, and commercials and is geographically close by the location of the actual Spahn Ranch.

Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Musso & Frank Grill is one of the most illustrious locations in Hollywood, holding the distinction of being Hollywood’s oldest eatery after opening its doors in 1919. It is also one of the major filming locations for ‘One Upon a Time in Hollywood’, and the backdrop for the scene where Dalton and Booth meet up with Al Pacino’s character Marvin Schwarz for a drink.

Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California

Dalton and Booth get together at the Casa Vega Mexican Restaurant at Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles in California on the night of the grisly Tate murders. The filming for the scene was actually done on location at the restaurant itself, which enjoys a stellar reputation among the celebrities of Hollywood.

Check out this picture of the shoot posted by a fan account on Twitter:

Universal Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles, California

The filming for the in-movie TV series titled “Lancer” (which is based on an actual 1960s TV show of the same name) was done in the Backlot of the Universal Studios at Universal City Plaza.

Check out this picture of Tarantino along with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt:

Other Locations

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is truly an ode to the Hollywood of the late 60s, and as such features many iconic Hollywood locations. These include the Cameron Nature Preserve at Puerco Canyon in Malibu, California; The Fox Bruin Theatre in Westwood Village, Los Angeles; Paramount drive-in theatres in Paramount, California, Chili John’s diner in Burbank, California, Cicada restaurant in Los Angeles, California and even the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California.

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