The 2006 Richard Kelly film “Southland Tales” tells the story of an alternate timeline in the near future where the United States is descending into chaos and ultimately the end of the world. The film features an ensemble cast with interconnecting stories set against the backdrop of Southern California. The film is largely set along the beach fronts of Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. However, the film also shot brief scenes in Abilene, Texas and Primm, Nevada. This article contains some spoilers for the film.
In the opening scene of the movie, a nuclear attack is shown in the town of Abilene, Texas, through the perspective of home video footage at a children’s party. These scenes really were filmed in Abilene, with the house located at 2143 S 10th St, Abilene, TX 79605.
Throughout the film, Private Pilot Abilene, played by Justin Timeberlake, sits perched at the end of the Santa Monica Pier on the rooftop of Maria Sol restaurant, armed with a military grade gun, which is aimed inland at citizens.
LOCATION: 401 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Here’s closer view of the building, from the pier itself.
Boxer Santaros, played by Dwayne Johnson, awakens on the beach, unable to remember the events prior to the start of the film (those events are told in a graphic novel). He is seen walking up these stairs, which connect Palisades Park to the Santa Monica Beach parking area, as he is monitored by USIDent, which is something of an mock up and extreme version of the Department of Homeland Security.
LOCATION: 34°00’47.5″N, 118°29’51.6″W
In Downtown Los Angeles, protesters demonstrate outside of the USIDent headquarters, which was filmed at the Caltrans building. The same building was featured in the film “Hancock.”
LOCATION: 100 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Boxer Santaros and Krysta Now, a porn star with psychic abilities played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, hide out with Fortunio Balducci, played by Will Sasso, at this home in Manhattan Beach. It is also under surveillance from USIDent.
LOCATION: 132 3rd St, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Later in the film, Officer Ronald Taverner, played by Seann William Scott, stands in front of the home and looks out toward the beach.
The Sidewalk Cafe in Venice is featured multiple times throughout the film, as several characters meet and discuss various matters. It is connected to Small World Books, which is another location seen later in the film.
LOCATION: 1401 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
The entrance is seen briefly in the film.
USIDent surveillance shows that Boxer was first found at the California / Nevada state line, with images showing Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino in Primm, Nevada (31700 S Las Vegas Blvd, Primm, NV 89019).
Neo-Marxist Cyndi Pinziki, played by Nora Dunn, lives at this apartment above a storefront in Venice Beach, which has been slightly remodeled since filming.
LOCATION: 1307 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
The Neo-Marxist compound, where Roland Taverner, also played by Seann William Scott, awakens can also be found on Venice Beach.
LOCATION: 909 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Later in the film, Roland escapes the Neo-Marxist compound by jumping off the rooftop of the same building. The dumpster jump was a visual effect, but the location is otherwise geographically accurate. In fact, most of the film is geographically accurate in the ways the characters move from one location to the next. This side of the building faces Speedway / Breeze Ave.
Ronald and Boxer go on a drive together as Ronald makes a racist remark, which is captured on camera by Boxer, who is recording for research for an upcoming movie role. The two drive along Culver Blvd, past Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa Del Rey.
A political ad plays on the USIDent screens, with a little girl standing in front of a church. This was filmed back in Abilene, Texas (518 N 6th St, Abilene, TX 79601).
Boxer follows the mysterious Serpentine, played by Bai Ling, into a book store. This was filmed at the aforementioned Small World Books, which is connected to the beach front restaurant featured multiple times throughout the film. Both the interior and exterior of the store were featured in the film.
LOCATION: 1407 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Dr. Soberin Exx, played by Curtis Armstrong, picks up Boxer Santaros in front of this restaurant in Marina Del Rey.
LOCATION: 311 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Bing Zinneman, played by Todd Berger, gets hit by car at this intersection in Venice.
LOCATION: Market St / Speedway, Los Angeles, CA 90291
The actual close-up stunt of the impact, however, was filmed in an alley near Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles, around 337 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
On the same street where Bing Zinneman is hit, Ronald Taverner is injected with Fluid Karma, a drug with a variety of effects, depending on which color is taken. Ronald passes out in the street in this area.
LOCATION: 74 Market St, Venice, CA 90291
After Roland awakens from the dumpster he jumped into, he arrives at this area, where he finds Walter Mung, played by Christopher Lambert, parked in an ice cream truck.
LOCATION: 1313 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Dozens of caskets draped in American flags are unloaded onto the Santa Monica Pier.
LOCATION: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
One of the bodies is transported on a tram to Treer Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles. The tram was a CGI creation, but the surrounding buildings are once again geographically accurate, placing the location at W 7th St / Francisco St. As you can see in the photo, however, new buildings are going up as the skyline continues to change.
LOCATION: W 7th St / Francisco St, Los Angeles, CA 90017 (partial CGI used for the location)
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is Pilot Abilene’s Fluid Karma hallucination, where an impromptu musical sequence ensues to “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers. This was filmed at the Playland Arcade on the Santa Monica Pier, which was renamed the “Fire Arcade” in the film, as a nod to the band Arcade Fire. Both the interior and exterior of the arcade are seen and it still looks largely similar to how it appeared in the film
LOCATION: 350 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Late into the film, the MegaZeppelin prepares to launch in Downtown Los Angeles. This was another CGI creation. However, it is depicted as being located beside the Staples Center, placing it where L.A. Live stands now.
LOCATION: 777 Chick Hearn Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (partial CGI used for the location)
Zora Charmichaels, played by Cheri Oteri and Bart Bookman, played by Jon Lovitz, track down Krysta Now in Hermosa Beach. They exit the Municipal Parking Structure, where armed military are present. This same building appears later in the film, as gunfire erupts.
LOCATION: Municipal Parking Structure, 13th St, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Krysta Now enters the former Poop Deck, which was a real bar and restaurant in Hermosa Beach. It is now known simply as The Deck. Both the exterior and interiors of the restaurant were featured in the film. However, the bathroom scene where Krysta delivers a tape was filmed on a set.
LOCATION: 1272 The Strand, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Back at the Municipal Parking Structure, which is just around the corner, a military gunman opens fire on Zora and Bart from the top deck.
Krysta Now escapes the scene.
The interior of the MegaZeppelin was a composite of two different locations. It starts inside a restaurant at the Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069), before seamlessly transitioning (via a hidden edit in an unbroken shot) into the ballroom, which was filmed at Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049).
A Los Angeles freeway is seen, with more CGI elements added. This was filmed at W 7th St, overlooking the CA-110 freeway, facing Southbound. Again, the surrounding buildings are geographically accurate.
LOCATION: 34°03’01.0″N 118°15’45.3″W (partial CGI used for the location)
Walter Mung drives his ice cream truck, with Roland inside, towards the erupting riots in the city. A car is burning next to the “Uptown Rocker” public art piece in Downtown Los Angeles.
LOCATION: W 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071 (GPS coordinates: 34°03’06.3″N 118°15’10.2″W)
The ice cream truck crashes at S Hill St / W 4th St, where there are riots in the streets.
LOCATION: S Hill St / W 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
As Roland and Ronald Taverner meet one another, the ice cream truck ascends into the sky in front of the US Bank Tower in Downtown Los Angeles.
LOCATION: 633 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Related articles: Donnie Darko (2001)