Dandelion (2024): Exploring All Filming Locations

Nicole Riegel’s sophomore directorial, ‘Dandelion’ narrates the heartfelt tale of the titular singer and songwriter who is struggling to get her career off the ground and performing at small venues. In a last-ditch effort, she signs on to perform at a motorcycle rally in South Dakota and begins to doubt her convictions as she travels to a small town. There, she meets Casey, a guitarist who has gone through her current predicament and given up on his dream of being a popular musician. As they explore the rugged beauty of South Dakota and its rolling terrain in the warm colors of autumn, the two begin a passionate romance. The stunning natural landscapes featured in the musical romance enhance the grounded yet poignant discourses on dreams, drive, and the developing realities of the world.

Where Was Dandelion Filmed?

The filming of ‘Dandelion’ took place on location across the actual depicted places in Badlands National Park and Sturgis, South Dakota. To capture some town and concert scenes, the cast and crew ventured to Covington, Kentucky. Principal photography began in August 2022, with camera crews capturing scenes of the actual 82nd City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The cast arrived on set in South Dakota and began shooting on October 18, 2022, and wrapped up production in a few weeks by early November. The team seemed to have had a fantastic time behind the scenes, with lead actress KiKi Layne marveling at the unexpected natural beauty of the state.

Despite its modest budget, the movie’s visuals were brought to vibrant life through expert cinematography and shooting on film. “We knew from the start that the primary format on ‘Dandelion’ would be Super 16, and it quickly became clear that a handheld build would be our priority,” said director of photography Lauren Guiteras on Instagram, revealing that they had to use small teams to shoot in remote locations. “But many of the places that can be most challenging for production crews to navigate often also lend the most texture and life to the image… My crew and I got to capture some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen in this country and execute some of the best teamwork of my career so far.”

Sturgis, South Dakota

Sturgis became an important filming location for ‘Dandelion’ as the camera crews captured the massive rally and its festivities, which play into the film’s thematic climax. A small city in Meade County, Sturgis is known primarily for its annual motorcycle rally, which sees hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the globe congregate in a 10-day and night-long celebration. The rally features musical concerts, races, stunts, and rides through the vast and mountainous countryside.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Much of the seemingly untouched natural landscapes seen in the film are a part of the Black Hills mountain range in western South Dakota. To capture these scenes, the team ventured into the wilderness and remote territories of national parks south of Sturgis. The sights of Badlands National Park, with its unique rock formations, canyons, and vast expanses of prairie, can be seen in the background of cinematic shots.

KiKi Layne was awestruck by the majesty of the South Dakota wilds and was stunned at the complete silence that enveloped the actors once the cameras started rolling. “There’s a scene where Dandelion is just standing there, looking out at the Badlands, and when they called ‘action,’ everyone stopped moving. I realized, ‘Oh, I’ve never experienced silence.’ I couldn’t hear anything,” she recalled in an interview with Roger Ebert. “It was such a strange experience to be in such a vast space and experience for the first time absolute silence.” The Wind Cave National Park, neighboring the Badlands, is also featured in the movie, with its distinctive cave systems and trails becoming the backdrop of a few sequences.

Covington, Kentucky

Covington became the final filming destination for ‘Dandelion’ where the team recorded the musical performances and scenes of the protagonists making their way through the vibrant city streets. In particular, they ventured to the MainStrasse Village, showcasing its well-preserved, quaint 19th-century architecture and cobblestone streets. The German neighborhood is known for its multi-ethnic cuisines, picturesque views, and historical feel. The production team shot a sequence in the empty lot opposite the Legacy Designs Tattoo LLC shop at 631 Main Street.

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