John Wick 3 filmed desert settings in Morocco

Key scenes for the latest in the John Wick action franchise were filmed in Morocco.

Key scenes for the latest in the John Wick action franchise were filmed at locations across southern Morocco.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is set in a stylised version of the real world and stars Keanu Reeves as the eponymous professional killer.

In the new sequel, Wick finds himself hunted by all the world’s top assassins.

Part of the story sees him travel to the Saharan region of Morocco where he meets new character Sofia – played by Halle Berry – and her Malinois dogs that are crucial to the ensuing action.

Spain was among the international locations considered for this part of the story’s desert settings, but Morocco was eventually chosen as the most suitable option for the John Wick team.

“We loved the contrast of going from rainy, grey, textured concrete of New York to Morocco, with its heat, sand, colour and rolling dunes,” says Basil Iwanyk, one of the film’s producers.
“It’s a pretty intense change of pace.”

Christian McWilliams, a veteran locations expert with long experience of Moroccan production, helped organise this leg of the shoot.

“We spent around four months prepping for a four-week Moroccan shoot,” says McWilliams, in comments to KFTV.

“Erfoud in the south-east provided the dunes we were looking for. Elsewhere, the coastal city of Essaouira was used for beach scenes and there we also filmed a medina marketplace. We had specially-trained dogs for these moments in the film so they had to be carefully contained.”

John Wick 3 filmed desert settings in Morocco
John Wick 3
John Wick 3

Stahelski and his team flew in around 70 key crew from the US for the shoot but also worked with local servicing company Dune Films, who McWilliams knew already from past shoots in the country.

“I’d like to give Dune Films a shout-out because they’re the best in Morocco as far as I’m concerned,” he tells KFTV.

Dune’s list of international credits includes Amazon’s Jack Ryan spy action series – which McWilliams also worked on – that used Morocco as a stand-in for multiple story settings across the Middle East.

“Morocco had a great year in 2018,” McWilliams tells KFTV. “It’s popular for its desert filming locations, incentive support and stable politics.”

John Wick 3

The John Wick story is mostly set in New York and the team largely shot in the city for Parabellum. Transport hub Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan became a key setting for the movie and Stahelski and his team managed to shoot there briefly, while also being able to import John Wick’s particular visual tone.

“We wanted to light it in our own shadowy way and it's difficult to do there because the working conditions are rough,” says Dan Laustsen, the film’s director of photography.

“You have to come in and get out fast. We only succeeded because we had such a fantastic lighting and grip crew in New York.”

New York remains one of the top production hubs in the US. The state’s incentive support will last through until at least 2023 and Netflix has become the latest major media organisation to announce plans to develop new studio facilities in New York City.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Morocco.

Images courtesy of Christian McWilliams.

John Wick 3 filmed desert settings in Morocco
John Wick 3

Key scenes for the latest in the John Wick action franchise were filmed at locations across southern Morocco.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is set in a stylised version of the real world and stars Keanu Reeves as the eponymous professional killer.

In the new sequel, Wick finds himself hunted by all the world’s top assassins.

Part of the story sees him travel to the Saharan region of Morocco where he meets new character Sofia – played by Halle Berry – and her Malinois dogs that are crucial to the ensuing action.

Spain was among the international locations considered for this part of the story’s desert settings, but Morocco was eventually chosen as the most suitable option for the John Wick team.

“We loved the contrast of going from rainy, grey, textured concrete of New York to Morocco, with its heat, sand, colour and rolling dunes,” says Basil Iwanyk, one of the film’s producers.
“It’s a pretty intense change of pace.”

Christian McWilliams, a veteran locations expert with long experience of Moroccan production, helped organise this leg of the shoot.

“We spent around four months prepping for a four-week Moroccan shoot,” says McWilliams, in comments to KFTV.

“Erfoud in the south-east provided the dunes we were looking for. Elsewhere, the coastal city of Essaouira was used for beach scenes and there we also filmed a medina marketplace. We had specially-trained dogs for these moments in the film so they had to be carefully contained.”

John Wick 3

Stahelski and his team flew in around 70 key crew from the US for the shoot but also worked with local servicing company Dune Films, who McWilliams knew already from past shoots in the country.

“I’d like to give Dune Films a shout-out because they’re the best in Morocco as far as I’m concerned,” he tells KFTV.

Dune’s list of international credits includes Amazon’s Jack Ryan spy action series – which McWilliams also worked on – that used Morocco as a stand-in for multiple story settings across the Middle East.

“Morocco had a great year in 2018,” McWilliams tells KFTV. “It’s popular for its desert filming locations, incentive support and stable politics.”

John Wick 3

The John Wick story is mostly set in New York and the team largely shot in the city for Parabellum. Transport hub Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan became a key setting for the movie and Stahelski and his team managed to shoot there briefly, while also being able to import John Wick’s particular visual tone.

“We wanted to light it in our own shadowy way and it's difficult to do there because the working conditions are rough,” says Dan Laustsen, the film’s director of photography.

“You have to come in and get out fast. We only succeeded because we had such a fantastic lighting and grip crew in New York.”

New York remains one of the top production hubs in the US. The state’s incentive support will last through until at least 2023 and Netflix has become the latest major media organisation to announce plans to develop new studio facilities in New York City.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Morocco.

Images courtesy of Christian McWilliams.

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