Directed by Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’), Netflix’s ‘The Guilty’ is a remake of the 2018 eponymous Danish film titled in Danish as ‘Den Skyldige’. It follows Joe Baylor — a police detective downgraded to a 911 phone operator — who gets a distressed phone call one morning from a seemingly kidnapped woman named Emily amid the California wildfires. As Baylor gets absorbed in Emily’s case, dark truths are revealed about Baylor’s high-profile demotion and Emily’s horrifying circumstances.
Starring the prolific Jake Gyllenhaal, this crime thriller brilliantly addresses uncomfortable and shocking revelations about identity, judgment, police brutality, and mental health — all while staying within the confines of a few phone conversations in two rooms. If you are intrigued by the film’s unique setting and are wondering where this realistic and jarring film was shot, we’ve got all the details for you.
The Guilty Filming Locations
‘The Guilty’ was filmed in Los Angeles, California, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming began in November 2020 and wrapped up in just 11 days. Let’s take a closer look at the crime thriller’s specific shooting location.
Los Angeles, California
‘The Guilty’ is set in a single location — a 911 call center — in Los Angeles, and it was also shot at a single location in the City of Angels in California. Director Fuqua revealed that he chose Los Angeles as the backdrop of the movie because of its vast desert landscape. “[LA is] A no man’s land in a weird way,” said Fuqua, explaining that the locale of the movie adds to the notion that Jake’s morally ambiguous character, police detective Joe, is in dry and fiery purgatory.
When the movie was being shot, the California wildfires had been raging for almost an entire year, and the Black Lives Matter movement had gripped the city and the world. The effects of the two events are threaded into the film’s emotionally wrought tapestry. Fuqua directed the entire film from a fully-equipped van a block away from the set. This was because he had come into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 just 2-3 days before filming was scheduled to start.
Although Fuqua tested negative for the virus, he had to stay in quarantine according to safety guidelines. The complications that arose from not being able to physically be on set were certainly challenging, and the studio had to be specially prepared for long-distance communication.
While Gyllenhaal was on set, Riley Keough and Ethan Hawke, amongst other actors who lent their voices to the movie, were live on Zoom, delivering and recording their dialogues over the phone from their homes, receiving cues through video call. Extreme safety protocols were followed to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay. Coordinating the cast and crew through monitors and phone calls had to become the norm in order for ‘The Guilty’ to get successfully made.
The center of the American movie industry, Los Angeles has hosted the production of more than thousands of films over the decades. It comes as no surprise that when the pandemic had come down hard on most businesses, productions, and studios, Tinseltown and a few other cities could provide the necessities required for a film of this scale and urgency. “LA made sense because it’s such a labyrinth to me, and I find it really interesting,” stated Fuqua. Well, Joe’s turbulent one-spot emotional and moral journey in ‘The Guilty’ certainly mirrors the chaos of Los Angeles.