Lords of Dogtown is a 2005 biopic about the Zephyr skateboard team. The film is based on the 2001 documentary called Dogtown and Z-Boys. The Hollywood dramatization was written by original Z-Boy Stacy Peralta. It took a fair amount of liberties in telling the story, but still managed to capture the look and feel of Venice Beach in the 70s.
The production used a variety of locations in the Los Angeles area. Much of the filming took place in San Pedro, as gentrification in the original Dogtown area removed a lot of the gritty look needed for the time period. Some locations in Santa Monica and Venice were also used.
Lords of Dogtown has always been one of my favourite films, and I’ve done a lot of research into the filming locations. I got some info from some of the cast and crew of the film, but a lot of the research was my own work. I was even able to discover some of the locations that no one from the film remembered. In May 2022 I flew to LA, put on my Zephyr Competition Team shirt, and went to check out all the locations!
The Zephyr Shop
Likely due to its location on a busy street, the production chose not to film at the original Zephyr Shop. Instead, the shop was recreated in San Pedro. This was a tough location to track down, and it took a fair amount of work to locate it.
The building has been slightly altered since filming, and is now operated as a church. You can still imagine Heath Ledger on the roof tossing surfboards down to the street in a rage.
The street in front of the shop is seen as the team skates to and from the building. They also use the side alley during the film.
We also see the back of the shop during several scenes in the movie, including the party where Jay gets in a fight. I was given special access to this area to get a few pictures. This space is now divided for the different businesses, and it appears the church uses their area as a play area for children.
Jay Adams’ House
Jay Adams’ house was seen several times throughout the film. This is where we see Jay jumping off the garage and landing in the back alley, where he skates away.
Tony Alva’s 1st House
Tony actually lives in two different houses during the film. The first house is from before he gets successful. This house is where we see a party going on, and there’s a scene with Jay hitting on Kathy after her breakup with Stacy. These scenes take place on the sidewalk in front of the house.
Tony Alva’s 2nd House
Later in the movie, we see Tony living at a different house. It isn’t mentioned, but the likely reason is that Tony has become successful in skateboarding and had the money to move his family to a better house. We see the front of the house where Topper Burks arrives in a limo to speak with Tony.
Stacy Peralta’s House
Stacy’s house is also located in San Pedro. We don’t really get a good view of the house in the film. We mostly see Stacy in his driveway, with the houses across the street in the background. We do however see the house much more in the deleted scenes. The house and landscaping have changed drastically since filming.
Skating Alley behind Tony’s House
There is a brief scene where the Z-Boys are skating in the alley behind Tony’s (1st) house. The skaters leave the alley and skate across a busy street. This is where we see Sid stumble off his board and fall to the ground. This is the first indication of his coming condition.
School Skating Scene
When the skaters first discover the polyurethane wheels, they head to a local school to skate the yard. We see the Z-Boys scale a chainlink fence, which was used in many of the promo shots. They then use the banked pavement to explore the new tricks they could do with the wheels.
The school’s yard has been changed over the years. The fence has been replaced, and some trees and gardens have been placed in the yard, which would make skating now virtually impossible.
The skate demo that the Z-Boys attend was filmed at Marina Del Rey. The area with the lighthouse is the Fisherman’s Village shopping area, which overlooks the Marina.
Bombing Bicknell Hill
The Bicknell Avenue stretch from Ocean Avenue to the beach is where a famous photo of the original Jay Adams was taken as he bombs the hill. Lords of Dogtown recreated this scene with Emile Hirsch in the exact same location.
After bombing the hill, Jay catches up with Stacy and Kathy in a nearby parking lot by the beach. This was filmed in the parking lot and the bottom of the hill, in Santa Monica Lot 4 South.
Seal Beach Gas Station
The location of the gas station is not actually in Seal Beach, but in San Pedro. It is now a barbeque restaurant called Whiskey Flats.
One of the biggest action sequences we see in Lords of Dogtown is when Tony, Stacy, and Jay grab hold of the back of a bus and get pulled on their skateboards. The bus driver swerves to try and shake them off. As the driver turns a corner, the heroes continue forward, skating at a high speed between cars in front of a school. This sequence was filmed in San Pedro, in front of Bandini Street Elementary School.
Jay Skating In The Alley
There is a brief scene of Jay skating in an alley at night. This was filmed along the Speedway in Venice Beach, right near Dudley Avenue.
Venice Patty Slap
The movie features a scene where the Z-Boys are having burgers by the beach. A pissed-off Skip Engblom shows up and uses a burger to slap Jay. This was filmed right at Venice Beach where Market Street ends.
International Skateboarding Championships
The International Skateboarding Championships near the end of the movie was filmed at the Arena at the Long Beach Convention Center. The arena opened in 1962 and maintained the classic look that fit with the 70s time period of the movie.
The arena has a long history, hosting the Los Angeles Kings first season, Elvis concerts, and part of the 1984 Olympics. The outside walls have a large mural by artist Wyland, and is one of the many “Whaling Walls” he’s painted.
In Lords of Dogtown, the whole skateboard team has lunch after a competition. This is where Stacy Peralta is offered a spot on the team and given his Zephyr shirt. This was filmed at Rae’s Restaurant at 2901 Pico Blvd, which is in Santa Monica but away from the beach area. The restaurant has been used often as a filming location, and they’ve recently set up an outdoor patio as well.
Charlie’s Angels Scene
During the montage showing Stacy Peralta’s rise to fame, he makes an appearance on the show Charlie’s Angels. These recreated scenes were filmed at the courthouse facade on the Warner Bros. Backlot in Burbank.
Here is a look at the scene from the original Charlie’s Angels. It was clearly filmed at a real building in LA, as opposed to a backlot.
Stacy also makes an appearance in London during this montage. These scenes were also filmed at Warner Bros Studios, just a few feet away from the Courthouse. A small alleyway was dressed with stereotypical props like Union Jack flags and a British phone booth.
Another part of the montage shows Stacy meeting an astronaut, played by Tony Hawk. The scenes were filmed in front of the Columbia Pictures offices on the Sony Pictures Studios lot.
Original Zephyr Shop
The original Zephyr Shop is located at 2003 Main St. in Santa Monica. This location didn’t appear in Lords of Dogtown, but is a can’t-miss stop for anyone interested in skateboarding history. Officially called Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions, the shop closed down in the late 70s but reopened at Horizons West Surf Shop. This shop operated for many years before closing in 2010. It is now a cafe called Dogtown Coffee.
The interior displays murals, skateboards, and props associated with the history of the building. The building is also designated as a historical site.
At the back is a large mural dedicated to original Z-Boy Jay Adams, who passed away in 2014. The mural can be hard to see at times, due to being in the parking lot.
The 1956 Chevy
Lords of Dogtown features a 1964 Chevy Impala Wagon. The owner of the screen-used car recently reached out to me, providing some info about the car and how he purchased it. I will have an interview coming shortly, but here are some photos he provided. As you can see, the car is currently not street-worthy, but he has plans to restore it.
When I visited the Lords of Dogtown locations, my friend Jarod joined me and made a short video for his LA Explorers series. Check out the video:
When the movie came out, a companion book featuring photographs from the filming process was also released. Take a look at my page about filming location books for more details.
If you have any questions or thoughts about Dogtown or the filming locations, please share with me in the comment section below.