Turtles All the Way Down: All Filming Locations Explored

With Hannah Marks at the helm, ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ narrates the story of a germaphobe teen, Aza Holmes, who battles anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder while trying to live up to everyone’s expectations and reconnect with her childhood crush. Aza has a tough life owing to her uncontrollable thoughts, feeling like she is stuck in her own head with no escape. Adding to the challenge is her OCD germaphobia, which forces her into thought spirals of how unclean her surroundings are while making her hyper-conscious about herself.

Aza’s best friend, Daisy, is her greatest cheerleader, shoring up her self-doubt with conviction and encouragement. Davis, Aza’s childhood crush, helps her along her journey of self-acceptance with empathy and love. Based on a book by John Green, the teen romantic drama film is set against the backdrop of suburban Indianapolis, Indiana. The narrative takes us through a diverse visual gallery of backdrops ranging from serene boating on a river to partying in neon-lit nightclubs.

Where Was Turtles All the Way Down Filmed?

Filming for ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ took place entirely in Cincinnati, Ohio. The shooting schedule for the movie began on April 26, 2022, and was concluded by mid-June of the same year. The film’s cast and crew, especially Hannah Marks herself, realized the project’s significance and was proud of its message on mental health.

“I have been involved with this movie for many years now and to finally have it come to fruition was joyous, at times challenging, but always fulfilling and overflowing with love,” wrote Hannah in an Instagram post. “ I can’t believe how lucky I was to work with such a special group of collaborators. Talented people who care so deeply about the novel and the topic of mental health, like I do.” There are several identifiable sites around Cincinnati that became a backdrop for the film, standing in for Indianapolis.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Sprawled along the Ohio River, Cincinnati became the primary filming destination for ‘Turtles All the Way Down.’ The film crew largely chose to forgo the metropolitan cityscape in favor of peripheral locales around Cincinnati to capture the backgrounds seen in the film. The cinematic sequence of Aza and Daisy kayaking was filmed along the Ohio River. In these scenes, we can observe the banks of the Ohio River adorned with lush riparian vegetation, offering breathtaking natural scenery that contrasts with Aza’s panic over the possible germs in the water. Paddlers can enjoy panoramic views of rolling hills, local wildlife, and tranquil backwaters as they navigate the river’s meandering course.

When Aza and Daisy go on a double date at a restaurant, they are actually at the Applebee’s Grill + Bar, 5331 Pleasant Avenue in Fairfield. The signature furniture of the brand can be observed in the shots as the teens talk amongst themselves, and Aza has a downward spiral about not being accepted by Davis. The location was likely chosen for its understated ambiance, which is accentuated by cinematographer Brian Burgoyne. It also makes sense that high schoolers with limited funds would go out to an affordable food joint.

The hospital segment of the movie was shot in The Christ Hospital, situated at 2139 Auburn Avenue. The medical facility has 555 beds and runs in a not-for-profit model. The hospital is also situated at a scenic vantage point in Hamilton County, overlooking the Cincinnati basin below. Shooting reportedly also took place in the historical, former Warner Bros. studio at 1600 Central Parkway. The property is situated in a prime location and has been renovated as an office space.

Cincinnati has also become increasingly popular as a filming location in recent years, thanks to its diverse landscapes, historic architecture, and supportive film industry infrastructure. The city’s film commission is noteworthy for its support to filmmakers in obtaining permits and access to resources. “We are so excited to have ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ film here in Cincinnati,” said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati, in a press release. “With the Regina King film Shirley wrapping up production earlier this month, we’re ready to welcome the next feature to Cincinnati to take advantage of our resources of talented cast, skilled crew, and prime locations.”

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