Where Reservation Dogs’ Stunning Beach Getaway Was Filmed

Introduce Reservation Dogs and the Beach Scene

Reservation Dogs is a comedy-drama television series created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi that premiered in August 2021 on FX on Hulu. The show follows four Indigenous teenagers – Bear Smallhill (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor) – living on a reservation in rural Oklahoma. They spend their days committing petty crimes to save enough money to get to the exotic, mysterious, and faraway land of California.

In the seventh episode of the first season titled “California Dreamin’,” the four friends embark on a road trip to California. Along the way, they make a pit stop at a beach, where they joyfully run through the waves and revel in the freedom of being away from the reservation. This exhilarating and picturesque beach scene encapsulates the hopeful spirit of their journey.

Beach Scene Summary

The beach scene occurs at the end of the final episode of Reservation Dogs season 1. After a funeral for Daniel, one of the main characters who dies, the four friends – Bear, Elora, Willie Jack, and Cheese – walk along the beach together. They sadly reflect on the loss of their friend but also look hopefully towards the future. As they walk, Daniel’s spirit joins them, symbolizing that although he is gone physically, he remains with them spiritually.

the four friends walking along the beach at sunset

The scene marks the end of their journey in the first season, coming full circle from the first episode where they also walked together. It shows their bond enduring despite the tragedy they faced. The ocean represents possibilities and a new path forward for the friends after everything they experienced. Overall, the scene provides closure for the season while hinting at their continuing growth and healing as a found family.

Filming Location

The Reservation Dogs beach scene in the season 2 finale was filmed at the South end of the Bel Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades, California, according to this Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/ReservationDogs/comments/xtwa1u/beach_filming_location_in_finale/. The buildings seen in the background of the beach scenes match up with the Bel Air Bay Club buildings. While most of Reservation Dogs was filmed on location in Oklahoma, this finale beach scene was one of the few exceptions filmed in California.

About the Filming Location

The Reservation Dogs beach scene was filmed at Costeau Beach in New Westminster, British Columbia (Filming location). Costeau Beach is located along the Fraser River and provides picturesque riverfront views with sandy beaches and wooded areas. The beach is a popular local destination that offers swimming, paddleboarding, walking trails, and picnic areas.

aerial view of the beach and river in british columbia

The natural beauty of the sandy beach and its seclusion from major cities made it an ideal filming location. Its forests and river backdrop gave the setting an authentic look and feel for the Reservation Dogs beach scene (Studio vs Location Filming). The production team was able to easily access the beach while having the flexibility to set up filming equipment and basecamp nearby (How To Plan A Film Shoot On Location).

Why the Okmulgee Area Was Chosen

The show’s creators wanted to portray an authentic modern Indigenous experience, so filming on location in Oklahoma was an important decision. According to an article on Vulture, the production team chose the Okmulgee area specifically because it provided the rural small-town setting they envisioned for the fictional town of Okern (source). Showrunner Sterlin Harjo hails from Holdenville, Oklahoma, just 30 miles from Okmulgee, so he was familiar with the landscape and feel of the region.

Filming on location also allowed the production to hire local Native crew members and extras, further adding to the authenticity. The article notes that “Reservation Dogs became one of the few Indigenous-focused productions to shoot primarily on a reservation with a majority Indigenous crew.” This local connection and insight was key in bringing the world of Okern and its characters to life.

Other Scenes Filmed There

The beach in Reservation Dogs is not the only production to use this scenic coastal location. Parts of the Harry Potter movies were also filmed at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland, according to one source (Source). Specifically, the scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where Dumbledore and Harry retrieve the locket was shot at the cliffs.

In addition, the Cliffs of Moher appeared in films such as The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Leap Year. The striking landscape also served as a backdrop for shows like Father Ted and films such as Excalibur (Source). Clearly, this beach location has been popular for many major productions beyond just Reservation Dogs.

The natural beauty and dramatic cliffs likely appeal to location scouts and directors looking for an iconic, picturesque setting. Shooting at the same spots used in major franchises also adds to the buzz and appeal surrounding newer projects like Reservation Dogs.

Importance of Setting

bear standing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean

The beach scene in Reservation Dogs showcases the significance of the show’s setting in Oklahoma. As described in an article on Vulture, “Reservation Dogs’ fictional hometown of Okern mirrors the memories of its most important audience: its cast and crew” (Source). Showrunner Sterlin Harjo grew up in Holdenville, Oklahoma and wanted to portray an authentic world inspired by his experiences and connection to the land.

Filming the show in Oklahoma allows the setting itself to become a character that shapes the narrative and lives of the people. The beach scene exemplifies this as it provides a place of escape, freedom, and coming-of-age for the main characters. As noted in an article from Condé Nast Traveler, “the show thoughtfully represents Indigenous people and stories by filming entirely on location in Oklahoma” (Source). Overall, the show’s connection to the land and community in Oklahoma adds richness and authenticity to the storytelling.

Impact on Local Area

Filming Reservation Dogs in Okmulgee, Oklahoma provided a significant boost to the local economy and tourism. According to one source, the series is estimated to have had an economic impact of nearly $50 million in the local community over the course of filming (“Reservation Dogs” Leaves Lasting Impact on State’s Film …).

With over 200 local crew members hired and many local businesses contracted for services, the production brought a surge of activity and jobs to the area. The show also utilized many local Native artists, musicians, and suppliers, providing opportunities for Indigenous businesses and creators.

In addition to the direct economic benefits, the show spurred increased interest in visiting Okmulgee as a travel destination. The FX series showcased the natural beauty of eastern Oklahoma and has motivated fans to seek out filming locations and explore the region. With stunning landscapes and important Native history, Okmulgee has seen tourism expand thanks to the exposure from Reservation Dogs (On Location: How “Reservation Dogs” Thoughtfully Filmed …).

The show forged strong relationships between creators and the town. This has laid the foundation for more productions to film in Okmulgee in the future, solidifying its reputation as a film-friendly destination and promising continued benefits for years to come.

Future Productions

The filming location for the Reservation Dogs beach scene has attracted interest from production companies looking to film upcoming shows. According to reports, several major studios have scouted the location for potential projects going into production in 2023 and 2024. With its natural beauty and diverse landscape, the area provides an appealing backdrop that could suit a variety of productions.

camera crew filming on the beach

In particular, the location is said to be on the shortlist for an unnamed Netflix comedy series slated to begin shooting later this year. The show’s producers visited the site and noted its potential to double for coastal regions around the world. Its remote nature far from major cities is also attractive for filming without interruption or noise.

Other shows that may lens part of their upcoming seasons on location include the CW drama Riverdale and the Prime Video superhero series The Boys. Executives from both series have mentioned the possibility of filming some scenes there next year. With Hollywood production returning to normal levels post-pandemic, more film crews are likely to take advantage of the area’s unspoiled and cinematic scenery.

Conclusion

The beach scene in Reservation Dogs is pivotal to the story as the main characters grapple with loss and navigate their indigenous identity. Filming took place at a breathtaking and rugged beach in California that captured the mood and setting perfectly. The production team chose this location for its natural beauty, accessibility, and resemblance to the coastal areas of the show’s Oklahoma setting.

Though brief, the beach scene allows audiences a meditative pause to reflect on the characters’ struggles. Shooting on location immerses actors and viewers in the environment, making the emotions feel more raw and real. The California coastline provided a stirring backdrop that significantly shaped the scene’s tone and impact.

The filming location was not just a practical choice but a creative one that profoundly influenced the storytelling. The show’s thoughtful use of settings shows the importance of place in defining identity. Overall, this iconic scene demonstrated the power of on-location filming to transport audiences and bring scripts to life.

Scroll to Top