Location #44:

Mia's Desert Drive

Q.  Where is it supposed to be?

1:30:34: After breaking up with Sebastian, and what she views as a catastrophic failure with her one-woman play, Mia gives up on having a career in acting, drives out of L.A., and heads back to her family home in Boulder City, Nevada.

Q.  Where was it really shot?

Some times nothing can beat experience when it comes to tracking down locations.  For instance, trying to find one particular spot in the vast desert sounds like an impossible task.  And it would have been for most people.

But fortunately, while tracking down earlier locations for other shows, I've discovered that 90% of the time, when you see a scene set in the desert, where you also see lots of joshua trees, that scene was almost certainly filmed near one of two outdoor desert sets:  "Club Ed" or the "Four Aces", which are only five miles apart.

I first discovered these desert sets a decade ago, while tracking down the locations of "The O.C." and later found the same locations used in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", "True Blood", "The Last Man on Earth", and even "Westworld".

So by now, if I see a scene set in a desert with joshua trees and interesting rock formations, I head directly to this small section of the western Mohave Desert, and specifically, to a particular stretch of 150th Street  E, in Lancaster, CA.

( For the record, "Club Ed" is located at 150th Street E  &  Avenue L. in Lancaster,
while the "Four Aces" is located at 14499 E Ave Q, in neighboring Palmdale. )

So it was just a matter of dropping our little Google StreetView guy onto 150th Street E, near Club Ed, and trying to match the exact view we saw in the movie.

And it wasn't particularly hard to do. 

The only problem was that instead of heading north, away from L.A. they had Mia driving south, back towards L.A.!  So I initially wasted some time looking in the wrong direction, before spinning StreetView around and checking out the landscape when viewed by someone driving south on 150th Street E.

And there it was, big as life.  A perfect match:
( right down to the Joshua tree on the left side of the road )

Remember that the
address of "Club Ed" is 42848 150th Street E, in Lancaster.
( Here's a StreetView of Club Ed. )

The exact spot where Mia's car was, when they filmed what we see in that screencap, is on 150th Street E,  just 1,600 feet south of Club Ed, and just 340 feet north of Ave, L-8.  ( The map link button is right below. )

The GPS coordinates are approximately: 34.657675, -117.862988.
( according to Google Maps' measurement. )

That's about 45 miles northeast of L.A. in a straight line ( but more like 80 miles, or about 90 minutes travel time, if you're driving actual roads ).

Filmmakers usually don't want to travel any farther than they have to, and this is about as close to L.A. as you can get if you require genuine desert scenery, and that "out in the middle of nowhere" feel, with nothing in sight for miles except rocky hills and joshua trees. And the existence of those two desert sets provide some semblance of civilization, a place for the crew to park their vehicles, for instance.

That other  driving shot, with the rocky hillside:

was a bit more difficult to find... because they cheated!

Seriously.  They actually reversed  the real image before using it in the film.
But that didn't fool me for long.  I just had to flip the image back, in PhotoShop, before I could make the perfect StreetView match.

First, here's my same-but-reversed (corrected) image:

And here's the perfect matching StreetView:

The camera in this shot is
almost exactly where it was in the first shot ( in relation to 150th Street E,
and "Club Ed" ), only this time, they moved the camera west of the road, so it is looking now east towards those rocky hills ( while the first shot was looking south ).

So why did they flip the image?  My guess is that they wanted Mia's car to be travelling from right-to-left ( south-to-north ) in the shot, although she was actually driving to left-to-right ( north-to-south ) on 150th Street E.

Here is a link to a Google Earth 3-D view of the desert spot.


Move on to the next movie location seen in "La La Land".


"La La Land" and its images are copyright Summit Entertainment
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