Where Was Godless Filmed? Exploring the Scenic Shoot Locations of the Western Series

In the realm of television’s revival of the Western genre, the Netflix limited series “Godless” stands out as a notable entry. Debuting in 2017, this seven-episode series captivates with its high drama and rich storytelling, set in the rugged landscape of the American West.

Viewers are not just drawn in by the series’ plot and characters; the authenticity and grandeur of its filming locations are part of its allure.

Filmed mainly in the northern region of New Mexico, “Godless” uses the state’s striking landscapes to transport its audience to the late 19th century.

The production tapped into the essence of the West through its meticulous choice of filming sites, creating a believable backdrop for the fictional town of La Belle.

While Santa Fe, New Mexico, provided the basis for many of the series’ most iconic scenes, the purpose-built set was inspired by the historical architecture of real Southwestern mining towns.

This dedication to setting and atmosphere was essential in breathing life into “Godless,” offering a realistic glimpse into a bygone era that feels both expansive and intimately detailed. Do you want to know where was Godless filmed? Let’s take a look.

Key Takeaways

  • “Godless” is a seven-episode Western drama series from Netflix released in 2017
  • The series was primarily filmed in various locations across Northern New Mexico
  • Authentic sets and landscapes were integral to the series’ production design and visual storytelling

Filming Locations Overview

The sweeping vistas and dusty streets viewers admire in the Netflix series “Godless” come to life thanks to versatile filming locations, predominately in New Mexico.

These locations not only provided the backdrop for the gritty Western drama but also contributed immensely to the authenticity and immersive experience of the show.

New Mexico’s Role

New Mexico, with its rugged landscapes and historical aura, was the primary filming ground for “Godless.”

It stood in for the late 19th-century American frontier, providing a convincing Wild West setting.

The state’s diversity in scenery—from arid deserts to lush forests—added depth to the series’ visual storytelling.

Key filming took place at Santa Fe Studios, a prominent production facility that offered the perfect foundation for the show’s largest setups.

Notable Filming Sites in New Mexico:

  • Santa Fe: Heart of production activities and home to La Belle’s townscapes
  • Diablo Canyon: Captured thrilling chase sequences
  • Jemez Pueblo: Served as hideouts for Frank Griffin’s gang
  • Galisteo: Hosted major outdoor scenes
  • Pecos: The wild, untamed feel of the town amplified the Western genre’s grit
  • Cerro Pelon Ranch: This locale offered an exclusive setting known for many Western productions

Iconic Filming Sites

Within New Mexico, several key areas became the iconic filming sites that viewers would associate closely with “Godless.” Each of these sites delivered a unique touch that heightened the show’s dramatic tension and underscored the narrative’s themes.

  • San Cristobal Ranch: Offered sprawling landscapes that are as dramatic as the show’s plot
  • Rio Grande: Gave a sense of expansiveness and natural boundary
  • Rio Chama: Provided a picturesque backdrop for quieter, introspective scenes
  • Santa Clara Pueblo: Contributed to the authenticity with its historical integrity
  • El Rancho de las Golondrinas: This living history museum enriched the setting with its period-appropriate architecture
  • Bonanza Creek Ranch: A recurring name in Western filmography, it stamped “Godless” with an authentic Western influence that is hard to replicate

Key Settings and Scenes

“Godless,” a tale woven in the raw and rugged landscapes of the Old West, finds its heart in the carefully crafted settings and pivotal scenes that bring the story of hardship and redemption to life.

La Belle’s Depiction

La Belle, a town sketched out in the dusty plains of New Mexico, stands as a symbol of solitude and resilience.

The show depicts La Belle as a town under the weight of grief following a mining accident that claimed the lives of nearly all its male inhabitants.

The sense of loss hangs heavy as viewers are introduced to strong-willed characters like Alice Fletcher, a widow whose grit and resolve embody the spirit of the town.

Action-Packed Sequences

The miniseries doesn’t hold back on the throttle when it comes to heart-pounding moments.

Roy Goode on the run adds a pulsating vein to the stark yet beautiful New Mexico backdrop.

The opening scene grips the audience with a suspenseful train wreck that sets the stage for the chaos and lawlessness that unfurl.

The merciless outlaw gang’s pursuit and a massacre ensuing in the quiet town escalate the stakes, framing the action in raw, unforgiving landscapes.

Cast and Characters

The ensemble cast of “Godless,” led by powerful performances, brings to life the gritty frontier of the American West. Each actor encapsulates the essence of the 19th century, delivering depth to a narrative rich with tension and drama. Now we talked about where was Godless filmed, let’s talk about the cast members that made the movie special.

Leading Performances

  • Jeff Daniels portrayed the menacing outlaw Frank Griffin, delivering a powerful performance that anchors the show’s central conflict
  • Jack O’Connell took on the role of Roy Goode, a charming yet complex protagonist, whose troubled past with Griffin shapes much of the series’ storyline
  • Michelle Dockery, known for her previous role in “Downton Abbey,” played Alice Fletcher, a resilient widow and mother, who becomes a pillar of strength within the town
  • Scoot McNairy portrayed Sheriff Bill McNue, a man battling his own demons while striving to protect his community

Supporting Roles

  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster contributed a memorable portrayal of Whitey Winn, the youthful, spirited deputy of La Belle, whose journey adds a poignant layer to the narrative
  • Merritt Wever stood out as Mary Agnes, one of La Belle’s women, whose leadership and defiance defy the expectations of her era
  • Sam Waterston played the role of Marshal John Cook, a lawman involved in the hunt for Griffin’s gang
  • Tantoo Cardinal brought to life the character of a Native American guide, helping to deepen the show’s exploration of terrain and culture in the Old West
  • Samuel Marty portrayed Truckee, the son of Alice Fletcher, navigating a world of conflict and change with youthful innocence

Production Design and Aesthetic

The Old West is brought back to life in Godless through meticulous production design and a great sense of aesthetic. They captured the essence of the American West with detailed costume and set design that played a crucial role in storytelling.

Creating the Old West

The crew of Godless faced the unique challenge of recreating the late 19th-century American West, ensuring that the towns and landscapes depicted were as true to history as possible.

They selected New Mexico as their canvas, which is replete with the natural settings akin to a bygone era.

Locations like Santa Fe offered a backdrop that was both authentically rugged and visually stunning, harmonizing with the narrative’s raw and untamed spirit.

The cinematography highlighted these aspects, making the viewer feel embedded in this historic period.

By reviving ghost towns and utilizing the existing natural landscapes, they managed to construct a world that resonated with audiences as both real and ghostly, much like the tales of the Old West itself.

Costume and Set Design

The costume and set design of Godless are storytelling instruments in themselves. They provide not only a sense of time but also geographical placement and character depth.

Attention to detail was crucial, with every article of clothing and prop made to enhance the authenticity of the series:

  • Primary photography captured the textures and colors of the time, making the visuals a key aspect of the story
  • Costumes: Layered fabrics, wide-brimmed hats, and boots that showed wear helped bring individual characters to life
  • Prop and set pieces: From the chipped paint of the storefronts to the dust-covered bottles in the saloon, each design choice was made to mirror a reality that felt lived-in

The creative team’s efforts resulted in a world that felt tactile and real, inviting viewers to step directly into the dusty boots of those who carved a life out in the Western frontier.

Cultural Impact and Reception

Godless, the acclaimed western series from Netflix, not only captivated audiences with its gripping narrative but also made quite an impression during the awards season.

Critical Acclaim

The series received considerable acclaim from critics, particularly for its bold narrative and striking cinematography.

The Albuquerque Journal praised the show for its cinematic visuals, which brought the untamed beauty of the Wild West to life.

Directors and writers of western miniseries were given new benchmarks in storytelling and character development.

The show’s excellence was recognized with several nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards, highlighting the robust talent behind its production.

Audience Engagement

Fans of the western genre were treated to a sprawling world with the largest western film set to date, featuring 28 buildings.

The intricate and authentic set design added depth to the tale of La Belle and its inhabitants, engaging viewers who appreciated meticulous historical details.

The show maintained a strong connection with its audience, as viewers actively discussed and celebrated its narrative complexities and character arcs, through various social media channels and forums.

This engagement underscored the series’ ability to resonate and maintain relevance long after its initial release.

Behind The Scenes

When the cameras stopped rolling on the set of the Western drama series Godless, tales of arduous filmmaking and heartwarming camaraderie surfaced, spotlighting the efforts that brought this gritty narrative to life.

Filmmaking Challenges

The creation of Godless posed unique challenges, particularly due to its period setting. Scott Frank, the director, had to ensure the authenticity of the 1884 timeline.

This required detailed attention to the set design, costumes, and props. The selection of filming locations was crucial in transporting the audience to the Wild West.

Santa Fe County, with its rugged, expansive landscapes akin to the ones in Big Sur, California, provided a believable backdrop. It highlighted not only blue skies but also the desired gritty landscapes essential for the series’ tone.

The logistics of capturing the raw beauty of places such as Cherry Meadow and the banks of the Rio Grande River also presented logistical issues. Transporting vintage props and costumes to these remote locales required careful planning and effort.

The absence of modern infrastructure added to the complexity, as the production crew had to recreate the bygone era with meticulous accuracy.

Anecdotes from the Set

On the picturesque stretches of the California coast, the camaraderie between the cast and crew flourished. They would often be found sharing stories or huddled together for shade under the intense blue skies.

It was not an uncommon sight to see them gathered around Scott Frank. Frank had previously directed films like 3:10 to Yuma and worked with notable figures such as Tom Ford. They would discuss scenes or tweak dialogue.

While the shooting locations were at times challenging to endure, the dusty winds and harsh conditions of the New Mexican and Californian terrains, these adversities seemed to only strengthen the bonds between everyone on set. Their shared resolve to depict a realistic and engaging Western drama translated into a palpable sincerity that viewers could feel through the screen.

Written by Alexander