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Where Was ‘The Way Back’ Filmed?

March 5, 2020
4 min read

The Ben Affleck starring ‘The Way Back‘ is an emotionally riveting narrative about a man’s last shot at redemption. It is directed Gavin O’Connor who previously worked with Affleck on ‘The Accountant’. The film hits home with its portrayal of a life filled with sorrow as its protagonist battles addiction.

‘The Way Back’ is a hard-hitting sports drama that centers around Jack Cunningham, an alcoholic construction worker who was once a local basketball star. Having lost his wife, Cunningham struggles with grief, drowning himself in alcohol to drink away his misery. But an offer to coach the basketball team at his alma mater gives him a new shot at life.

The film follows Cunningham’s journey to redemption as he tries to get the ethnically mixed high school basketball team to win the regional championship. But in the process he will need to confront his own inner demons. In the film, Cunningham is a construction worker from San Pedro. Given the premise of the film, it is important to note the role community plays in it.

Cunningham’s neighbourhood, his old high-school, and the people around him, his students, all play a crucial part in saving him. In case you’re wondering where the San Pedro neighbourhood and Cunningham’s school were actually filmed, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know.

Where Was The Way Back Filmed?

The filming of ‘The Way Back’ mostly took place on location in San Pedro, in Los Angeles, California. The fact that it was shot on location becomes relevant because of the importance Cunningham’s community plays in the film, as mentioned above.

The cinematography of the film also plays a crucial role in the narrative. Cinematographer, Eduard Grau, portrays the otherwise sunny and bright coastal side of Los Angeles in unusually grey and muted tones to fit Cunningham’s own mental state.

San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

The principal photography for ‘The Way Back’ began in October 2018 around the isolated coastal neighbourhood of San Pedro. While all the locations where the shooting took place has not yet been revealed, several important chunks of the narrative were filmed around Beacon Street.

The shooting also took place in and around Harbor View House, located in 921 Beacon Street. The House is a five-story Spanish Colonial Revival style structure that was built in 1925. It was considered to be California’s largest facility for the mentally ill until it was sold in 2018.

In one of the scenes, Affleck’s Jack Cunningham can be seen at the basketball court of Angels Gate Park that overlooks the ocean. The sea, then, can be seen as a metaphor as Jack drowns in his grief and isolation. It is also interesting that the previous working title of the film was ‘Torrance’, another coastal city of Los Angeles.

It is, then, crucial to note the importance San Pedro plays in the narrative especially with the vast, endless ocean that features as a backdrop throughout the film. The neighbourhood is also primarily a working class community which becomes relevant because of Jack’s profession as a construction worker.

The film portrays the neighbourhood as a tight-knit, everyone-knows-everyone sort of space which is why Cunningham gets offered the job in the first place. Again, this is also why he cannot escape his past and must face his demons, especially when he steps back into his old high-school.

Ontario, California

The filming of Jack Cunningham’s school, Bishop Hayes High School, took place in Ontario in November 2018. The reshoots for the same took place around May and June 2019. The 65-acre Chaffey High School served as a substitute for Bishop Hayes. Interestingly, Chaffey has a long history of its own and has been operating as a high-school for 117 years. It was formerly known as the Chaffey College of Agriculture when it opened in 1885.

It has been reported that about 35% of the film was shot in Chaffey’s gymnasium, which served as Bishop Hayes’ basketball court. The district was paid around $115, 275 for the production’s use of the school in November, and another $2,500 a day during the reshoots. The district intends to use this to invest back into student programs and facilities in the area.

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