The Circle (2017): Exploring All Its Filming Locations

Helmed by director James Ponsoldt, ‘The Circle’ is a sci-fi thriller that follows a young woman’s astronomical rise through the ranks of the world’s largest social media company, and its impact on her life’s privacy as she enrolls in an experimental program. Mae (Emma Watson) is stuck in a frustrating job at a call center, when she receives a call from the Circle, learning of her successful employment with the organization. She joins the world’s most powerful tech company at an entry level but soon catches the eye of its CEO, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks). He wants to try an experimental program on her, with round-the-clock surveillance making her the first completely transparent “Circler.”

However, her commitment to broadcasting her life pushes away those close to her as their privacy is violated by being in her mere presence. Despite the pushback, Mae doubles down on her stance, encouraging regulation regarding increased surveillance, leading to dwindling human connections in her life. The 2017 film is based on Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name and explores the fine line between transparency and privacy violations. The characters inhabit an increasingly digitalized world that threatens to uproot the structure of meaningful personal relationships. It introduces us to a dystopic technoscape that mirrors the real world to a large extent, piquing interest in the places chosen for its filming.

Where Was The Circle Filmed?

‘The Circle’ was filmed primarily in California, with shooting carried out across a number of sites throughout the state. A few brief scenes were filmed in Scotland. Principal photography for the film began on September 11, 2015, and reshoots were done between December 13, 2016 and January 20, 2017. Prior to designing the sets for the film, the production team did extensive research into the architecture and work environments of big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Allow us to take you through all the sites featured in the movie.

Los Angeles County, California

A majority of the techno-thriller was shot in Los Angeles County. The filmmakers utilized real-life modern locations alongside greenscreens to create the futuristic look seen in the movie. One such location is the Skyview Capital on 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City, which stood in for Mae’s office lobby when Mercer confronts her about posting his antlers statue. The corporate office building’s extensive glass sides and marble walls can be seen in several impactful scenes throughout the film.

Image Credit: FilmIsNow Movie Bloopers & Extras/YouTube

Additional scenes were shot in Panorama City, Glendora, Van Nuys, Manhattan Beach, and Playa Vista. Some census-designated territories and unincorporated communities also lent themselves as backdrops to the movie. These included El Camino Village, Altadena, Castaic, and Topanga. The film’s most impactful sequence was filmed in Breakneck Canyon. The narrow bridge covering a ravine north of Los Angeles can be clearly spotted as Mercer’s car veers off it. ‘The Circle’ was filmed on location in the city north of Los Angeles. Surrounded by the picturesque valleys of Southern California, Santa Clarita presents a coveted union of rugged landscapes and old-town charm for filmmakers.

When Mae is taking her followers on a live tour of The Circle campus, she comes across a sculpture with hanging handcuffs and talks about its origins. This sequence used green screen footage for its background, which was filmed in the Art Center College of Design on 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena.

Other Locations in California

Situated northwest of Los Angeles, a number of sequences for ‘The Circle’ were lensed within Ventura County. The initial scene of Mae driving to The Circle for the interview was filmed in the town of Fillmore. The historic town of Piru to the east of Fillmore also featured a filming site.

The emblematic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco can be easily identified in ‘The Circle’ as Mae paddles along on her lonely kayaking trip. With the bridge in the backdrop, she begins to cry out of helplessness of rising medical bills and her recent fight with her friend.

Scotland, the UK

For a brief video call sequence between Mae and Annie, a backdrop of Scotland was used on Annie’s side, as she returned home after becoming unsettled by the developments at The Circle.

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