What’s in a name? If William Shakespeare and the 2020 film “Palm Springs” are to be believed, not much. The latter, a sci-fi rom-com that dropped on Hulu last July, is named after, set in and was inspired by the “Playground of the Stars,” but, incredibly, no filming actually took place there.
The movie follows Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti), two guests at a Palm Springs wedding who find themselves trapped in a “Groundhog Day”-esque time loop in which they are forced to live out the same day over and over.
Shot in 2019, well before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdown, the film is strangely prophetic – two characters stuck in a seemingly neverending repetition of a random day. As screenwriter Andy Siara told Palm Springs Life, “The world changed drastically a month and a half after we premiered at Sundance. There’s no way we could have predicted this stuff would happen. The movie started five years ago as a conversation between [director] Max [Barbakow] and I about how our lives just generally started to feel like ‘Groundhog Day,’ and now it feels like we’re all really living that existence.”
Barbakow and Siara, friends since film school, became inspired to create the movie after spending a weekend in the desert and initially hoped to shoot it on location in the Coachella Valley, as well. Max explained, “Early on, we had this whole sequence where the main characters went into town and did all the things we did on our Palm Springs weekend. But, as it goes with a film this size, we weren’t able to make it happen.”
Instead, the duo looked to desert landscapes located a bit closer to Los Angeles – and within the Thirty Mile Zone – opting to shoot mainly in Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The two regions did a nice job of masking as the Coachella Valley, thanks to some help from production designer Jason Kisvarday. He told Architectural Digest, “The biggest challenge was trying our best to try to make these towns feel like Palm Springs and the surrounding areas without actually being there. We did whatever we could so nobody could tell the difference. We even brought in palm trees.”
One Coachella Valley-adjacent location, a striking modern home in Joshua Tree known as SkyHouse, did make it into the film, though. It is there that Nyles takes a depressed Sarah to hang out after her attempt at performing a completely selfless act fails to free her from the time loop.
For more Dirt on SkyHouse from “Palm Springs,” click over to the gallery.