DEXTER Filming Locations - over a hundred actual places where the TV show Dexter was filmed.

The location: Boyd's Swamp

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A swamp.


Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere in or near Miami.


Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. More than once, in Season 5.

    We first see it at the end of Episode 2, "Hello Bandit".

    Dexter has been stalking Boyd Fowler, a dead animal pickup guy (after finding human blood in a moving van he rented).

    Dexter first plants a dead raccoon on the road, as an excuse to meet Boyd. Then he breaks into his house to look for evidence, but doesn't find much.

    Finally, he follows him.

    Boyd drives to a swamp, where he dumps a barrel into a shallow pond. Dexter assumes it's filled with dead animals.  But when he later opens one of them, he finds the body of a dead blonde woman floating inside the barrel.

    Looking around him, Dexter notices that there are a dozen such barrels floating in the pond, and realizes that Boyd is a serial killer.

    We see the swamp again, in Episode 4, "Beauty And The Beast".

    Dexter has killed Boyd, but discovers that a woman named Lumen - one of Boyd's future victims - was watching his crime.

    So he temporarily takes her captive, and locks her up at the old Tourist Welcome Center (where he had planned to kill Boyd), until he can figure out what to do with her.

    After she tries to escape, Dexter drives her out to the swamp.

    She assumes he plans to kill her, but instead, Dexter shows her one of the dead bodies in the barrels - to let her know that she would have been next, and that he saved her.

    But she still isn't convinced. When he offers her his knife as proof of his sincerity, she cuts him with it.

    But when he doesn't strike back, she finally believes him.  And she tells him that there were other people, besides Boyd, who did this to her.

    The swamp shows up a final time in episode 8, "Circle Us", when Cole Harmon brings in workers and moves the barrels from the swamp to the back of his pickup truck. (This leads to an accident later, that exposes the gang.)





Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. Part of a local wetlands area.


Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. I still haven't pinpointed precisely where this scene was shot, but I can give you the general area.

    Just before this scene, they filmed two short scenes in the Oxnard/Point Mugu area.

    The first was the dead raccoon scene, and the second was the shot of Dexter following Boyd.

    Neither of those scenes, on their own, was worth traveling all they way out to Oxnard to film.

    Both involved simple roads that could easily have been filmed somewhere in Dexter's usual stomping grounds (of Long Beach, San Pedro, Hollywood and Marina del Rey).

    But the producers like to "cluster shoot", that is, shoot a number of scenes in the same area (often on the same day) to cut costs. No doubt, they filmed those road scenes there because they came to the area to film something more important.

    So the obvious question becomes: What was their real reason for traveling all the way to Oxnard?

    If you look south of those two other locations (both of which were filmed up around E. Hueneme Road, in Oxnard), you'll see there is a large area of swamp-like wetlands.

    This is known as the Ventura County Game Preserve (also known as the Duck Club), located just south of Casper Road, adjacent to the Point Mugu Naval Air Station. (The official address is 2950 Casper Road, Oxnard, CA.)

    The swamp scenes were almost certainly filmed there, or very nearby.

    The problem is that it's a large area, 600 acres for the preserve alone, with a perimeter of about four miles.

    As you can see from an aerial view, that land is divided up into rectangular parcels, about 100 of them, each forming a sort of mini-swamp within the larger wetlands area. These sumps were originally designed for agricultural reasons, to draw water away from the nearby farm lands, and prevent flooding there.

    But in practical terms, it means we have roughly 100 candidates for Boyd's swamp.

    Right now, all I can tell you is that the swamp scene was probably filmed in one of them... but not which one.

    And it is likely to be near a road, since they would need to drive the vehicles into the scene, and also move in heavy lifts, lighting equipment, etc.

    In theory, it should be possible to compare the aerial map photos with the ground-level screenshots to pinpoint the exact spot. But so far, I haven't been able to pinpoint it with any degree of certainty.


Below, I've put the best available screenshots of the area, from the episodes, so if you want to play detective and help pinpoint the exact spot, feel free to join in the hunt. (If you find it, email me via "dexter at seeing-stars.com".)



Note that in the screenshot above, there appears to be a dirt road leading away from the small clearing.


    I think it's also quite possible that the footage from Oxnard was mixed in with some footage from El Dorado Park (where they filmed the Tourist Welcome Center and the chase scenes with Lumen).

    I think there's a good chance that the early daylight shot seen behind Dexter when he's talking on the phone to Debra about the kids (after watching Boyd dump the first barrel) isn't the same place as those Oxnard swamp scenes. They may have patched the different locations together to form a hybrid of sorts.

    And I also think there's a strong chance that the last appearance of the swamp (when they move the barrels from the swamp into Cole's pickup truck) was shot at El Dorado Park. I had heard reports that they were filming there again around the time they were shooting that Episode 8.


    Update: In early 2012, Cyril Durand, a Dexter fan from France, took me up on that challenge to pinpoint the swamp location, and came up with some good evidence suggesting it was shot in the yellow area seen here.  That matched my own early estimate that it was probably shot somewhere in the larger green area on that same map.  (Thanks, Cyril!)

    We will probably never know for certain, because we're dealing with a natural area that changes all the time: the water level rises and falls, trees & bushes grow and wither, etc.  It can look one way when the scene was filmed, and look quite different a few months later.  However, although I don't have absolute proof, I'm 90% sure that it was shot in that general area.


Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A.  I haven't - at least not completely.

    I got an anonymous tip that they were going to shoot out near Port Hueneme or Oxnard, so when those rural road scenes with Boyd showed up, I checked that area and managed to discover where those road scenes were filmed. Then I spotted the wetlands to the south...

    But I still need to pinpoint the exact spot in those wetlands.


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