American Graffiti Filming Locations: Where Was It Filmed?

The Oscar-nominated film, American Graffiti is a critically acclaimed film that focuses on coming-of-age infused with comedy and drama. The film made its debut in 1973. Since its release, the film was successful in capturing the attention of the audience through its dynamic narrative, outstanding cinematography, good background score, and extraordinary set of unknown actors.

The narrative of the film, American Graffiti follows the story of a group of teenagers, who are about to graduate and spend a night on a cruise. The film focuses on the escapades and mishaps of a group of teenagers throughout one night. Apart from addressing the theme of coming of age, American Graffiti also highlights rock and pop culture, and cultural commentary, including clichés like cruising. The film was one of the biggest box-office hits during that time. The film was nominated for the Oscars and received many awards including two Golden Globe Awards.

American Graffiti is the brainchild of Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, and Lucas. It is directed by George Lucas and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is inspired by George Lucas’s teenage time. It offers quite a feeling of nostalgia to the audience. As mentioned earlier, the film has an immensely talented set of cast, who all justified the roles they played. The cast includes Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard (billed as Ronny Howard), Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins, and Wolfman Jack.

Now, let’s take a walkthrough of the filming locations of the historic film. American Graffiti was shot between June 26, 1972, and July 24, 1972. Although the film is set in the suburbs of Modesto, California, it was shot in several other locations and counties of California. Let us have a look at those locations.

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American Graffiti Filming Locations

Initially, George Lucas wanted to shoot the film at Modesto itself but the city had transformed drastically from the time which is represented in the film. Therefore, a large portion of American Graffiti was shot in and around Marin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sonoma counties in California.

Filming Location of American Graffiti: Marin County

Marin County, California

In Marin County, some of the memorable scenes of American Graffiti were shot at San Rafael, Larkspur, and Mill valley. Some of the important scenes were shot particularly in streets including Main Street and Fourth Street, in San Rafael. At Mill Valley, the production crew acquired access to some of the public schools to shoot the scenes which were to be filmed inside a classroom or a campus. A public school, Tamalpais High School, located at 700 Miller Avenue, and Redwood High School, at 395 Doherty Drive in Larkspur, were the two public schools where most of the classroom scenes were shot.

Sonoma County, California

Other than the Marin County, some of the important sequences were filmed in Petaluma, Sonoma County. Washington Street, Kentucky Street, Petaluma Boulevard North, and D Street were all used for filming in the city.

Mystic Theatre, Old Opera House, and Fourth Street in Petaluma

Filming Location of American Graffiti: Petaluma

The movie theatre, which was a scene in the movie, is represented by the Mystic Theater, which is regarded as one of the historic theatres, located at 23 Petaluma Boulevard North. Filming for the crash scene near the climax of the film took place at 2079 Frates Road. The famous Old Opera House, which is an art deco opera house and event location, situated at 149 Kentucky Street in Petaluma, also served as the shooting location.

Cityscape of Los Angeles

Filming Location of American Graffiti: Los Angeles

Los Angeles County, California

Cityscape of Los Angeles

Filming Location of American Graffiti: Los Angele

For filming the interior sequences, the production crew opted for a studio in the center of Los Angeles’s Hollywood. The American Zoetrope Studios, which is now known as Sunset Las Palmas Studios, served as a significant location for American Graffiti. The studio is situated at 1040 North Las Palmas Avenue. To accommodate productions of all sizes, the studio has 12 sound stages that are completely equipped with all the necessities of production.

San Francisco County, California

San Francisco, which is known for its coastline and lively nightlife with a diverse fusion of cultures, also contributed to the list of shooting locations for the film. Mission Street was one of the locations where few scenes were shot. The renowned US restaurant, Mel’s Drive-in, which was shown in the film, has been demolished. The restaurant was situated at 140 South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

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