Based on Diana Nyad’s autobiography titled ‘Find a Way,’ Netflix’s ‘Nyad’ is a biographical sports drama movie helmed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin that chronicles the life of the world-class athlete named Diana Nyad. After retiring from marathon swimming and pursuing a career as a sports journalist, 60-year-old Diana has her sight set on the epic swim — the 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida, which is also known as the Mount Everest of swims.
With the help of her best friend, coach Bonnie Stoll, and a supportive sailing team, Diana is determined to become the first swimmer to complete the swimming challenge without a shark cage. While Annette Bening portrays the titular character, other cast members, including Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans, Karly Rothenberg, Jeena Yi, Luke Cosgrove, and Eric T. Miller, also play significant roles in the biopic. The sports film follows Diana on her swim journey across different locations, serving as a metaphorical journey of self-discovery.
Where Was Nyad Filmed?
‘Nyad’ was filmed in the Dominican Republic, Florida, California, and Cuba, especially in Juan Dolio, Key West, and Los Angeles. As per reports, principal photography for the Annette Bening starrer got underway around mid-March 2022 and wrapped up in a couple of months, in mid-May of the same year.
Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic
The shooting for a major chunk of ‘Nyad’ took place in the small seaside community of Juan Dolio, which lies on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. In particular, the production team utilized the facilities of the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios situated in the heart of the Caribbean, in the beach town of Juan Dolio, with the Caribbean Horizon Water Tank serving as the main tank where they shot the water scenes. The 43-acre film studio complex is home to an 8-acre facility for water filming with infinity sea views, professional diving, and marine support, all of which go a long way in the production of a movie like ‘Nyad.’
Moreover, the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios consists of three state-of-the-art sound stages, production support services, and access to various tropical locations, making it an ideal pick for different kinds of productions. The filmmaker, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, talked about her experience shooting the movie in the water during a conversation with Backstage in early November 2023. She explained, “We shot a lot of (the movie) in a tank in the Dominican Republic. People always say that water and children are the hardest things to shoot. I think it was fortuitous that it was our first narrative feature because we didn’t know better, and Jimmy and I just throw ourselves into things.”
Elizabeth further added, “But it was really, really challenging, and I have to credit our (director of photography), Claudio Miranda, who is famous for ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ He ran a really tight ship with his team; they were fast and allowed us to use multiple cameras at once, and we had the best underwater (DP), Pete Zuccarini. And because Annette was so comfortable in the water, we could keep on shooting. It was a lot of different pieces that had to come together.”
Key West, Florida
Several important scenes for ‘Nyad’ were also lensed in Key West, an island situated in the Straits of Florida. The locales of Old Town and Casa Marina and the facilities of Key West Library are some of the places of interest that are situated on the island. Thus, you should not be surprised if you happen to notice such landmarks in the backdrop of a few key scenes.
Los Angeles, California
The shooting for some additional portions of ‘Nyad’ was also carried out in and around Los Angeles, which is also referred to as the entertainment capital of the world. Situated in Southern California, LA has hosted the production of several movies over the years, such as ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Dumb Money,’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can.’
Officially known as the Republic of Cuba, the island country also served as a production location for the biopic. Since a significant portion of ‘Nyad’ takes place in Cuba, it is understandable why the filming unit set up camp on location for the purpose of shooting. Apart from tourism, it also promotes several activities, including biking, diving, and caving.
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