“A rock is a rock, a tree is a tree. Shoot it at Griffith Park.” So producer Abe Stern once famously suggested to a director requesting additional funding to film a scene at an expensive locale outside of Los Angeles back in the heyday of Hollywood. Decades later, production teams are still heeding Stern’s prudent advice, including the executives behind “Palm Springs” who made the economical decision to shoot the 2020 comedy within the Thirty Mile Zone instead of on location in the Coachella Valley where it was set.
The Sundance darling (it holds the record for the film festival’s highest sale ever at $17,500,000.69!) tells the story of Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti), two strangers who head to the desert to attend a weekend wedding and inadvertently find themselves trapped in “one of those infinite time loop situations you might have heard about,” forced to relive the same day over and over again.
Shot over 22 days in Los Angeles, Palmdale and Santa Clarita, the movie did, indeed, make use of Griffith Park. The cave where Nyles, Sarah and fellow wedding guest Roy (J.K. Simmons) get sucked into the time loop is a mash-up of two spots – Griffith Park’s iconic Bronson Caves (an oft-filmed set of tunnels that most famously appeared as the Batcave on the 1960s “Batman” television series) and Lake Los Angeles’ Blayney Ranch, where the triangularly-shaped rock formation used as the cave’s entrance can be found.
The bulk of the movie, though, takes place at the fictional Rancho Calmado (Spanish for “Calm Ranch”), where the friends and family of Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe (Tyler Hoechlin) gather to attend the couple’s nuptials. According to Architectural Digest, one of the main challenges for the production team was “finding a geographically and architecturally appropriate locale with a pool that could house a bride and groom and their respective families and friends, as well as an outdoor wedding.” And, as production designer Jason Kisvarday noted, “It needed to be a paradise. Our hero is trying to make the best of the situation after being there for God knows how long.”
The locale proved elusive. When the team was unable to pinpoint a spot that met all of their needs, they shifted gears and instead utilized two different homes in Agua Dulce, a small desert community situated northeast of Santa Clarita, to represent the faux venue.