Early in The first episode of “13 Reasons Why,” high school student Clay Jensen retreats to a shoreline bluff to listen in solitude to a mysterious cassette tape left behind by his dead classmate, Hannah Baker. The TV series never identifies the spot, but many Bay Area residents will instantly recognize it as the hill above Eckley Pier in Crockett, overlooking the Carquinez Strait and the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge.
In fact, “13 Reasons Why,” the controversial Netflix series about teenage bullying, sexual assault and suicide, was filmed throughout the Bay Area, with key locations in Vallejo, San Rafael, Sebastopol and Mill Valley.
Plus there’s more to come. The show plans to return this summer to shoot episodes for a second season. In preparation for that work, an open casting call for “actors, extras and stand-ins” will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Vallejo’s USA World Classics Museum.
“It’s pretty amazing to see your hometown on television,” says Jim Reikowsky, the film liaison for the Visit Vallejo & Solano County Film Office. “Whether you like the show or not, it has certainly created a big buzz.”
Indeed, “13 Reasons Why” has become the latest breakout hit for Netflix, the Los Gatos-based streaming giant. Based on Jay Asher’s young-adult novel of the same name, it depicts a year in the life of a high school junior who killed herself after leaving behind 13 tapes explaining the events leading up to her heart-wrenching decision.
Since premiering in March, the series has generated passionate water-cooler debate about its sensitive subject matter. Along the way, “13 Reasons Why” has become the most tweeted-about TV series of 2017.
The Paramount TV production crew behind the show spent six months in the Bay Area last year — from June through November — using soundstage facilities on Mare Island as its main base. From there, they fanned out across the region looking to capture a small-town feel for the show’s fictional setting.
Some key locations included:
— Downton Vallejo. The quaint little Crestmont Theater, where Hannah (Katherine Langford) and Clay (Dylan Minette) first meet, and work together, is on Georgia Street, as is Baker’s Drug Store, the business owned by Hannah’s parents. Also, Monet’s Cafe, where Hannah and her pals regularly meet for hot chocolate, is located on Virginia Street.
But credit some Hollywood magic because none of these are actual businesses in Vallejo. According to Reikowsky, all three sites were created by set decorators, who added fake fronts to empty buildings. To form the Crestmont, for example, a marquee, neon sign and a ticket booth were all shipped in.
“There was a little confusion at times,” Reikowsky says. “They had to put up a sign outside of Baker’s to tell people that it wasn’t a real drug store, with an arrow pointing to where the real one was.”
13 REASONS WHY
13 REASONS WHY
— Sebastopol. Analy High School, the city’s century-old campus, was gussied up and became Liberty High School — home of the Tigers — for the TV series. Lots of angsty interactions went down here. It’s the show’s most prominent location.
— Mill Valley. The graveyard used in the series is the Fernwood Cemetery, a gorgeous 32-acre hillside property with a nice view of Mt. Tamalpias.
— San Rafael. The homes occupied by Clay, Hannah and a couple other students are all here. So is the playground — Bret Harte Park — where Hannah had her first kiss.
— Mount Diablo State Park. The huge boulders that Clay and Tony scale in Episode 8 are in the Rock City area of the park.
Additionally, many interior shots, including scenes of the Liberty High gym, were shot on Mare Island.
Contact Chuck Barney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.