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Where was life in color filmed?

Life in Color is a 2013 American comedy-drama film directed by Katherine Emmer and written by Elissa Matsueda. The film stars Lucas Till, Josh Hutcherson, Kiersey Clemons, and Emmy Rossum. It follows the story of two best friends, Luke and Jonah, as they road trip across the country after high school graduation. The film features prominent use of color to represent the characters’ emotional journeys.

Life in Color was primarily filmed in various locations across the United States in 2012. The film’s production visited several states to capture the cross-country road trip that is central to the plot. While the story is set in a fictional town called Pine Springs, the actual filming locations spanned from Georgia to California.

The diverse filming locations enabled the production to capture a wide range of backdrops reflecting the characters’ emotional arcs. From the open roads of the Midwest to the beautiful coastline of California, the changing scenery parallels Luke and Jonah’s inner transformations on their eventful trip. The use of color also plays a key role in the film, as each location is associated with a different color to represent the characters’ mindsets and relationships.

Principal Photography Locations

According to production notes, principal photography for Life in Color took place in the following locations:

  • Covington, Georgia
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Moab, Utah
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California

The various urban and rural settings throughout these locations provided the diversity of backdrops the story required. The locations in Georgia, for example, were used for scenes set in the fictional town of Pine Springs at the beginning of the characters’ road trip. Meanwhile, desert landscapes around Moab, Utah offered visuals for the middle portions of Luke and Jonah’s journey of self-discovery.

Georgia Filming Locations

The state of Georgia offered the production ideal settings to represent the fictional suburban town of Pine Springs that Luke and Jonah depart from. Principal photography took place in the Atlanta metropolitan area as well as around the small town of Covington:

  • Covington, GA – Various spots around Covington stood in for downtown Pine Springs, including the Covington Town Square and surrounding roads.
  • Atlanta, GA – The furniture and home decor store IKEA in Atlanta was used for scenes set in a Pine Springs big box store.
  • Atlanta, GA – A suburban neighborhood in Atlanta portrayed the Pine Springs neighborhood where Luke lives at the beginning of the film.

The comfortable suburban settings around Atlanta and Covington help establish the mundane environment Luke and Jonah are departing from as they embark on their eventful road trip.

California Filming Locations

Once Luke and Jonah reach the West Coast in the second half of their trip, Life in Color shot in various iconic California locations:

  • Los Angeles, CA – The Santa Monica Pier and boardwalk in Los Angeles provides backdrops for seaside scenes after the characters arrive in California.
  • Hollywood, CA – The Hollywood Walk of Fame is featured when Luke and Jonah explore Hollywood upon arriving in Los Angeles.
  • Malibu, CA – Beaches around Malibu represent the California coastline where Luke and Jonah have meaningful conversations.
  • San Francisco, CA – The Golden Gate Bridge is seen briefly during a montage sequence of Luke and Jonah’s time in San Francisco.

The iconic West Coast imagery from Los Angeles and San Francisco reinforce the ending stages of Luke and Jonah’s cross-country adventure, as California represents the final destination before they reach the ocean and must decide whether to part ways or not.

Other Notable Filming Locations

In addition to Georgia and California, Life in Color filmed key sequences in a diverse array of environments across the central United States:

  • Nashville, TN – Nashville’s lively downtown honky tonk bars provide backdrops to represent a stop on Luke and Jonah’s route.
  • St. Louis, MO – The Gateway Arch and Mississippi riverfront help portray St. Louis during a somber scene between the two characters.
  • Denver, CO – Denver’s urban streets and neighborhoods are seen as Luke and Jonah make their way across Colorado.
  • Moab, UT – The Arches National Park and surrounding red rock desert of Moab represent the characters venturing into nature and solitude during soul-searching moments.

Traveling through the heart of America, these regionally distinct locations help give a sense of the long distance Luke and Jonah have traversed from their starting point in Georgia to their final destination on the Pacific Coast.

Shooting Schedule

Principal photography for Life in Color took place over the course of approximately two months between May and June 2012. The filming schedule was structured around the cross-country geographical arc of the story:

Location Filming Dates
Georgia May 1 – May 15
Tennessee May 16 – May 20
Missouri May 21 – May 25
Colorado May 26 – June 1
Utah June 2 – June 10
California June 11 – June 30

Starting in Georgia, the production team could capture suburban scenes set in the characters’ hometown of Pine Springs before traveling westward through the Midwest to Colorado and Utah’s dramatic landscapes. The schedule then allowed for 2 1/2 weeks shooting iconic coastal scenery around Los Angeles and San Francisco to portray Luke and Jonah’s time in California.

Visualizing the Cross-Country Journey

The diverse array of filming locations spanning Georgia to California proved essential in portraying Luke and Jonah’s physical and emotional cross-country road trip in rich visual detail. As director Katherine Emmer stated, “Each setting shaped the look and feel of where the characters were on their journey, from the comfort of home to the open road and finally reaching the inspiring Pacific Coast.” She added, “The environments almost function like another character that the boys are traversing through on their voyage of growth and self-realization.”

Production designer Anne Summer noted, “Matching each location to the emotional state of the characters at that point in the story was key.” For example, the lively concerts in Nashville depict a celebratory moment between Luke and Jonah on their trip, while the desolate deserts of Utah represent a reflective period of solitude. “It was amazing to see it all come together, with the land around them shaping their direction at each stage,” Summer said.

Between the suburban neighborhoods, commercial centers, rolling farmland, desert landscapes, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean, the vast range of filming locations succeeds in vividly rendering the cross-country scope and emotional arc of Luke and Jonah’s journey.


Life in Color leveraged filming locations across the United States to capture the essence of the main characters’ transformational road trip. Starting in the suburbs of Atlanta and culminating on the sunny beaches of California, the diverse environments parallel the emotional highs and lows that Luke and Jonah go through on their eventful post-graduation adventure. By the time they reach the Pacific at the end of their cross-country voyage, the open possibilities mirror the characters’ growth and newfound maturity. The careful use of color also connects each location to the mindsets of Luke and Jonah at that point in the story. Ultimately, the coast-to-coast filming strategy allowed Life in Color to vividly and effectively translate the script’s cross-country road trip to the screen.