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On location: Best films shot in New Jersey

The Quick Stop convenience store was immortalized in the New Jersey cult-classic, "Clerks." – Photo by @CBCCPodcast /

In the landscape of cinema, there are a couple of premier locations that instantly come to mind. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood and various New York City landmarks have contributed to some of film's most iconic moments. 

But, there is one place that also shares a rich cinematic history — New Jersey. Here are some of the finest films shot in the Garden State.


The quick-witted classic independent film was famously shot in director and writer Kevin Smith's home state of New Jersey. Smith's directorial debut follows a day in the life of two slackers running a local convenience store and video store in Leonardo, New Jersey, drawing from the director's own experience in the workforce.

It’s a simple premise, but the true beauty of "Clerks" lies in its ability to overcome its limitations. The film, which cost $27,575 to make, was mostly funded by 12 credit cards Smith had scraped together.

Paying for a filming location would be too expensive, so the crew shot for 21 nights at the Quick Stop convenience store Smith had worked at. The black & white cinematography was the result of an old camera — the only thing the crew could afford.

While coincidental, the lack of color adds an edge to the film — the dirty, lo-fi image perfectly matches the characters and helped it stand out. At the film’s first screening, Smith had expressed serious doubts — he thought no one would see it or care.

But, he was wrong — the film was picked up by Miramax and ended up making approximately $3 million. Since then, "Clerks" has become a staple of the "mumblecore" subgenre and an indie favorite, launching the careers of Smith and the rest of the crew.  

"On the Waterfront"

Today, "On the Waterfront" is remembered as a film classic. Marlon Brando delivered a riveting, gritty performance that led to an Academy Award victory. Legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, for the first and only time in his illustrious career, scored original music for the film.

But what truly sets the movie apart is its use of the beautiful shores of Hoboken, New Jersey. The typically cold, rainy Northeast weather makes a perfect backdrop for the longshore mobster drama.

Writer Budd Schulberg does a great job of capturing the state’s underbelly of crime, something he achieved by basing his characters on real New Jersey mobsters.

What results is an achievement in cinema — something that every New Jersey resident should familiarize themselves with.

"Friday the 13th"

Before it was a mega-horror franchise, "Friday the 13th" was a small indie project filming at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, a Boy Scout camp in Hardwick Township, New Jersey, and at Blairstown Diner in Blairstown, New Jersey.

Not many of the film’s crew had faith in the movie — star Betsy Palmer thought the script was awful. But what "Friday the 13th" lacked in writing, it made up for in its creativity. 

Aside from making full use of the Garden State's locations, the crew made full use of their budget. In one of the film’s most iconic scenes, where Kevin Bacon's character is gruesomely killed, they only had one take.  

The passion of the crew and special effects team shines through in the final product, particularly with its iconic villain Jason Vorhees. 

Whether you’re an aspiring actor or a devoted cinephile, consider exploring the titles that New Jersey has to offer.

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