10 Outdoor Film Sets for Aspiring Filmmakers | askBAMLand

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Ever dreamed of shooting a film amongst stunning landscapes?

You're not alone!

For aspiring filmmakers, the great outdoors offer a canvas of breathtaking scenery, dramatic light, and a natural backdrop that can amplify storytelling in subtle but profound ways.

Across the United States, various outdoor locations have become iconic for their cinematic potential and have been captured in countless films, from indie projects to box-office hits.

With locales ranging from the rugged Utah badlands to the historic streets of Savannah, Georgia, outdoor film sets provide an array of atmospheric settings.

These spots are not just visually striking; they are characters themselves, each contributing a unique essence to the narratives they envelop.

Filmmakers can harness these open-air stages, turning nature's masterpieces into key elements of the audio-visual tapestry.

Building on practical insights and seasoned advice, we delve into the top 10 outdoor film sets that can elevate your filmmaking from a mere concept to a sensory experience.

By understanding the nuances of each location—from climate challenges to permitting requirements—you equip yourself with the knowledge to scout, secure, and successfully capture the essence of these remarkable settings.

Embrace these destinations and let the landscape speak through your lens, crafting stories that resonate both visually and emotionally.

Key Takeaways

  • Outdoor film sets enhance storytelling with natural beauty.
  • Diverse locations cater to different narrative styles and genres.
  • Proper planning is essential for successful outdoor filmmaking.

Table of Contents

Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona

Have you ever dreamt of making films where every frame feels like a timeless painting?

Then pack up your camera and cowboy hat because Monument Valley is the place to be!

This isn't just any old outdoor set; this is the birthplace of epic Western skylines.

Why Monument Valley?

Well, just imagine your actors riding against a backdrop of towering red sandstone buttes!

It's no coincidence that directors have chosen this grand desert landscape time and again.

The valley provides a sense of grandeur that's hard to replicate.

Here's what you can shoot:

  • Red sandstone buttes
  • Vast desert landscapes

Been a fan of Westerns?

Then you'll recognize these scenes.

It's as if you're walking through a living museum of cinema history.

  1. Films Shot Here:
  1. The classic imagery of Monument Valley appears in Westerns like "Stagecoach" and modern adventures such as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
  2. Remember Johnny Depp's "The Lone Ranger"? That's Monument Valley working its magic again.

Every turn here tells a story, whether it's the sun casting elongated shadows or the way the wind shapes the sand — it's all waiting for your lens.

And guess what?

You're following in the footsteps of great filmmakers.

Just keep your shoot respectful and natural; this landscape isn't just a set, it's a piece of history.

Permits and Regulations: Do take note that filming in Monument Valley requires permits.

Always check with the local authorities for the most up-to-date information.

So, are you ready to capture the raw beauty of Monument Valley?

Your epic film is waiting to be shot!

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Have you ever seen those captivating photos where sunbeams pierce through a narrow gorge, casting a magical light on the twisting sandstone walls?

That's Antelope Canyon, Arizona for you – a filmmaker's dream come true.

Why is it a must-see for filmmakers?

  • Light Play: The interplay between light and shadow creates natural contrasts and a dynamic scene.
  • Natural Aesthetics: The wave-like structure of the canyon walls delivers a visual feast.
  • Unique Setting: It provides an otherworldly backdrop for film narratives.

Tips for Shooting:

  • Timing: Visit during midday when the light beams are strongest.
  • Equipment: Bring a tripod for those perfect, steady shots.
  • Guided Access: Remember, access is only through guided tours – plan ahead!

Did you know?

  • Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion, primarily due to flash flooding.
  • The canyons are continually changing with every monsoon season.

Bold and vibrant or subtle and ethereal, your footage here can capture a range of moods.

Just imagine your characters navigating this maze of marvels.

While it may be a compact space, its visual impact is anything but small.

So, grab your camera and capture the play of light and stone that only Antelope Canyon can offer.

Alley Spring & Mill, Missouri

Ever imagined stepping back in time, surrounded by natural beauty while you shoot your next film project?

Alley Spring & Mill in Missouri is like a hidden gem for filmmakers with a love for outdoor scenes and historic charm.

Nestled in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, this location is known for its quaint red mill, the seventh-largest spring in Missouri.

It's more than just a pretty face, though.

  • Historic Mill: The iconic Alley Mill, built in 1894, is a slice of history, eagerly waiting to be the backdrop for your scenes.
  • Vibrant Spring: The spring, which keeps a cool 57 degrees year-round, boasts a deep blue hue thanks to the mineral-rich dolomite bedstone — perfect for those seeking a touch of natural color in their shots.

Have you thought about the possibilities of filming in an area that's got both rustic architecture and stunning natural water features?

Imagine your actors in a serene setting, with the 100-year-old grist mill's wooden paddles clunking rhythmically in the background.

Useful Bits for Filmmakers Details
Constant Spring Temperature 57 degrees (F)
Visual Appeal Turquoise waters, red mill
Availability Open daily, Memorial Day - Labor Day
Historic Depth Spring extends 3,000 feet into the hillside, 155 feet deep
Origin Story Water's journey starts 15 miles away

With no charge for admission (though donations are welcome), your budget can breathe easy while you capture the essence of the Ozarks.

So, are you ready to call action at Alley Spring & Mill?

Big Sur, California

Have you ever imagined your storyline unfolding amidst the powerful waves and towering redwoods of California?

Welcome to Big Sur, a place where nature's raw beauty provides a stunning backdrop for your film aspirations.

Picture your characters navigating the same rugged landscapes that have captivated audiences in countless cinematic works.

Why Big Sur?

  • Scenic Variety: Beautiful artist community surroundings
  • Historic Set Locations: Low-budget films to Hollywood blockbusters have been shot here
  • Accessible Wilderness: Overlooks, beaches, and forests at your disposal

Filming in Big Sur: A Snapshot

  1. Visual Glory: With a camera in hand, every turn presents a potential masterpiece, from turquoise sea views to ancient forests. The variety is astounding!
  2. Inspiration Hub: Not just a location but a muse, Big Sur’s artist community vibes might be just what you need to spark that creative flint.
  3. An Indie Favorite: The locale hosts the Big Sur Film Festival, embracing the spirit of independent filmmaking.

Remember, your production could be the next to harness the mystical ambiance of Big Sur, where the sea meets the sky in an embrace of cinematic perfection.

So, pack your camera, rally your crew, and head on out to where the wild Pacific roars.

Your story is waiting to be told with the Pacific's drumbeat in the background and the horizon stretching endlessly.

Who knows?

Your film could be the next to become part of Big Sur's illustrious filmography.

The Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Have you ever dreamed of filming in a place that looks like it's from another planet?

Well, pack your camera and sunscreen because the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are calling your name!

Picture a sprawling 30,000-acre canvas of pure salt, ready to make your filmic visions a reality.

Why Film Here?

  • The Look: With a horizon that stretches to infinity, it's the perfect stand-in for alien worlds.
  • The Action: Craving a high-octane chase scene? This flat expanse is tailor-made for speed.

Did you know that these flats are a residue of the ancient Lake Bonneville?

Now, they form a salt crust that’s dazzling under the sun.

This location isn't just for show, it's also historically famous for land-speed records by rocket-powered vehicles.

Here's the lowdown on Bonneville:

  • Size: Over 30,000 acres
  • Location: Near the Utah-Nevada border
  • Accessibility: Just ten miles into this vast expanse, and you've got your set.

More than just a racing mecca, filmmakers flock here for cinematic magic.

Remember 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End'?

That otherworldly scene was shot right here!

Before You Go

Make sure your filming permits are in order, load up on water, and check your equipment.

It’s a harsh environment, and preparedness is key.

Filming Tips:

  • Time of Day: Early morning or late afternoon for that golden hour glow.
  • Climate: It's a desert out there—you'll be battling heat and reflection.

So, are you ready to transform your film project with a touch of salt-flat fabulousness?

Bonneville awaits!

Central Park, New York City

Hey there!

You're probably no stranger to the lush landscapes of Central Park in New York City, right?

It's like stepping into your favorite movie scene, literally.

Ever thought about why filmmakers just can't get enough of this place?

Here are some neat tidbits:

  • Central Park is the most filmed location in the world. Can you believe it?
  • A backdrop for over 100 films since 1908. Talk about a star-studded history!
  • It's more than just a park—it's a slice of cinematic wonder!

Check out these iconic spots:

Location Famous Film
Bow Bridge "Autumn in New York"
Bethesda Terrace "John Wick"
The Mall "Kramer vs. Kramer"

And it's not just the classics.

Remember that intense showdown in "Avengers: Infinity War"?

Yup, part of it unfolded right here in Central Park!

Imagine lounging on the Great Lawn where superheroes clashed, or strolling down the pathways that witnessed classic rom-com moments.

The park's versatility is its magic – one moment you're in an action blockbuster, the next in an indie flick's tender scene.

Curious about what makes this urban oasis tick for filmmakers?

  1. Diverse Landscapes: Woods, lakes, bridges, oh my!
  2. Accessibility: It's right in the heart of NYC.
  3. History: It's soaked in decades of film lore.

So, if you're an aspiring filmmaker, why not scout your next shoot here?

Who knows, you could be part of Central Park's ever-growing film legacy!

The French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

Have you ever imagined your story unfolding in a place brimming with charm and character?

The French Quarter in New Orleans sets a scene like no other.

Its centuries-old architecture weaves tales of intrigue and romance, all under the canopies of wrought-iron balconies.

It’s as if the air itself buzzes with potential plotlines.

Now, let’s walk down the storied streets.

Pirates Alley, remember this spot?

It set the stage for a pivotal confrontation between Klaus and Elijah in The Originals.

This narrow passageway whispers secrets of the past, making it a perfect spot for dramatic twists in your narrative.


It's at 622 Pirates Alley, just in case you're marking your map.

  • St. Louis Cathedral: Intrigue in a church? Absolutely! It doubled as Davina's Church in the same series. With its soaring spires, located at 615 Pere Antoine Alley, it demands to be captured on camera. Can't you just hear the echoes of footsteps pacing down its aisles?

Now, while you might not be in the Jazz Age, the French Quarter's atmosphere will transport your audience with ease.

Swing with the rhythm of street musicians, the soundtrack to your scene.

What's your genre?

Mystery, romance, historical drama?

You name it, the Quarter serves it up with an old-world flair that's hard to replicate.

Remember, every corner here tells a story.

Yours could be next.

Imagine the charm of gas lamps as a backdrop to a melancholy goodbye or a joyous reunion.

And, if it's the slice-of-life you're after, spontaneous second lines could parade right through your set.

Now, go make some movie magic, right in the heart of New Orleans!

The Everglades, Florida

Have you ever dreamt of capturing the untamed beauty of nature on film?

If so, the Everglades in Florida is your dream come true.

Spanning over 1.5 million acres, this network of wetlands and forests creates a primeval backdrop unlike any other.

Imagine the vibrant scenes you could shoot with herons in flight or alligators lurking just below the waterline—nature's drama at its finest!

Why the Everglades?

  • Diverse Wildlife: A paradise for nature documentaries.
  • Mysterious Appeal: The perfect setting for your next thriller or horror masterpiece.
  • Vast Landscapes: Endless horizons that embody the wild heart of Florida.

The Everglades isn't just a haven for ecological diversity.

It's also steeped in history and culture, as showcased in various documentaries and features.

Think the silent whispers of the trees could tell stories of old?

You bet they could—and your lens could be the medium.

Quick Facts:

  • Location Size: Over 1.5 million acres
  • Types of Production: Documentaries, feature films, photo shoots
  • Notable Projects: 'The Swamp' on PBS, featuring humanity's impact on the Everglades

Remember, the park has regulations to preserve its beauty, so you'll need to snag a filming permit.

But don't let that discourage you!

The process is there to protect the environment, ensuring that this majestic setting remains pristine for future filmmakers.

So grab your camera, and who knows?

Your next outdoor set in the Everglades might just produce the next cinematic masterpiece amid its lush expanse.

Just don't forget the bug spray!

Glacier National Park, Montana

Ever imagined capturing your story among some of the most stunning landscapes in America?

Well, you're in luck!

Glacier National Park in Montana could be just the backdrop you're after.

Think about it: towering mountains, untouched forests, and picturesque alpine meadows that scream adventure and tranquility in equal measure.

Interested in where some popular scenes were shot?

Here's a fun fact: Glacier National Park played host to the park scenes in that family film where the Newtons find themselves in all sorts of comical trouble.

Yes, that's the spirit of Montana on the big screen!

Now, let's talk practicalities.

If you're looking to shoot your cinematic masterpiece in this natural paradise, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Location Fees: Your production will need to budget for daily location fees. These are essential and need to be paid before your permit is granted.
  • Permit Approval: Planning is key, as the minimum time for a permit to get approved might stretch a bit for larger projects. So, start early!
  • Park Services: Expect to have park staff monitoring specific activities, especially if your project could impact the park's resources or visitors.

Here's a quick checklist for you:

  • Scouting the perfect Glacier National Park location
  • Budgeting for daily location fees and potential park staff costs
  • Allowing time for permit approval process

Montana's natural beauty is no Hollywood secret.

From epic action sequences to introspective moments, films have harnessed its rugged terrain to help tell their stories.

Your film could be next, and honestly, could there be a better place to shout "Action!"?

Savannah Historic District, Georgia

Ever strolled along the picturesque streets of Savannah and felt like you've stepped onto a movie set?

Well, your intuition isn't far off!

The Savannah Historic District in Georgia has been the backdrop for numerous films, luring directors and actors alike with its antebellum architecture and alluring Southern charm.

Notable Films:

  • "Glory" (1989): Featuring the Roundhouse Complex and the Mercer Williams House.
  • "Baywatch" (2017): Although set in Florida, some scenes were filmed here in sunny Savannah.

Why Savannah?

What makes Savannah so irresistible to filmmakers?

Perhaps it's the Spanish moss that whispers tales of yore on cobblestoned streets, or maybe it's the gentle blend of romance and history infused in every nook of this district.

Scenes to Scout:

  • Forsyth Park: For those heart-pumping chase sequences.
  • River Street: Ideal for anything from thrilling chase scenes to idyllic romantic moments.

Iconic Moment: Imagine sitting on the very bench where Tom Hanks, as Forrest Gump, recounted his extraordinary life – yes, that was right here in Savannah.

Have your camera ready as you explore Savannah's Historic District.

You never know, you might just discover the perfect setting for your next film project.

With every historic square and garden, Savannah extends a timeless backdrop that has charmed both the silver screen and the hearts of viewers worldwide.

So, why wait?

Pack up your camera and let Savannah's alluring vistas inspire your filmmaking magic!


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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