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Where Was May December Filmed? Netflix Drama’s Filming Locations Explained

Summary

  • May December was originally meant to be set in Camden, Maine, but the setting was shifted to Savannah, Georgia for filming.
  • The film embraces the Savannah setting, utilizing downtown locations and the city’s historic district.
  • Gracie and Joe’s house in the film is located on Tybee Island, about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah.

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Discussion of May December‘s premise, which involves sexual assault.

Netflix’s latest unsettling drama from director Todd Haynes has viewers wondering where, exactly, May December was filmed. Starring Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton, the film is inspired by the story of Mary Kay Letourneau, a sex offender who groomed and raped one of her students. In a meta turn, Portman’s Elizabeth Berry is an actor who’s been cast to play Moore’s Gracie Atherton-Yoo. A controversial figure in the world of May December, Gracie is infamous for her two-decade-long relationship with Melton’s Joe Yoo. Although Gracie and Joe are married, they first met when Joe was a minor — not unlike Letourneau’s story.

After being at the center of a tabloid firestorm in the ’90s, Gracie served time in prison for assaulting Joe. Twenty-three later, however, the registered sex offender has three kids with her now-husband. Tasked with studying the life of the controversial Gracie, Elizabeth interviews the couple, who, in turn, think the film will “correct” the public’s perception of them. Of course, all of this becomes even more complicated as Portman’s Elizabeth becomes more enmeshed in the strained lives and relationships of May December‘s cast of characters, namely those in the Atherton-Yoo household. A deeply uncomfortable film, May December has already elevated Riverdale‘s Melton to Oscars’ favorite status.


Savannah, Georgia

Natalie Portman’s Elizabeth Stays At An Historic Inn

Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) outside looking up in May December

Originally, May December was meant to be set in Camden, Maine — a small town known for being a summer hot spot. Before production on the film began, that setting shifted to Savannah, Georgia, which allowed the cast and crew to film on location. Production on the movie took place in 2022, lasting 23 days that spanned October and November of that year. The scenes that aren’t relegated to Gracie and Joe’s house were shot in the Savannah metropolitan area. While the shift from Maine to Georgia hinged primarily on the availability of May December‘s leads, Haynes seemed delighted by the shift.

May December competed for the Palme d’Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.

Set in 2015, the somewhat-contemporary film really embraces its distinctly Savannah setting. In addition to downtown filming locations, the movie deftly utilizes the city’s historic district, which is where Elizabeth’s inn is located. There’s a sharp contrast between contemporary Savannah and the historic district. This clash of party town and well-preserved history greatly appealed to May December director Todd Haynes. The filmmaker has even praised the city’s “climate, its color palette, its strange, marshy, humid language,” all of which he felt complemented the movie’s tone and story (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Tybee Island, Georgia

Julianne Moore’s Gracie Has A House Outside The City

charles melton and natalie portman walk the dogs in may december

While Elizabeth settles down at an inn in Savannah’s historic district, Gracie and Joe live about 20 minutes from downtown Savannah on Georgia’s Tybee Island. The couple’s beach retreat holds some similarities to the film’s original setting in Maine, but it’s also decidedly southern. The Chatham County island’s unending, sandy beaches are littered with concrete remnants of a military past, while South Beach’s iconic pier and pavilion make for great cinematic backdrops. Interestingly, Tybee Island boasts a small, tight-knit community — something that seems to eerily reflect the film’s interrogation of tabloid media. For now, viewers can see all the Savannah area’s gems by streaming May December on Netflix.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter

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