Where was Paper Girls filmed and what year does it take place?

The Paper Girls filming locations revealed and the date of the action

Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng, Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman, and Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Cole in Prime Video's Paper Girls
(Image credit: Prime Video/Future)

All of the filming locations, and the year the retro sci-fi series is set

New Prime Video series Paper Girls lands on July 29, and is the latest sci-fi drama set to invoke nostalgia. Set in the 80s, the series is based on the best-selling graphic novels of the same name, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. Audiences follow Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and KJ on their paper round, when they’re suddenly caught in the crossfire between warring time-travellers. Transported to the future, the girls come face-to-face with their grown up selves, as they work out how to get home to the past. While coming to terms with their future lives being very different to how they imagined, the youngsters are hunted by a militant faction of time-travellers calling themselves the Old Watch. These enemies have outlawed time travel to maintain their power, and the girls must fight to survive. Here, we reveal the series filming locations, and the exact year the action takes place. 

The vintage feel of the show is drawing comparisons to fellow 80’s sci-fi smash hit, Stranger Things. Still riding high at the top of the Netflix top 10, Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 shows no signs of slowing down. Those who watched the feature length final episodes to the end, were left asking if heroine Max Mayfield was blind. Not keen to wait too long for the final series of the horror epic - fans are keen to know the Stranger Things season 5 release date.

Where was Paper Girls filmed?

Paper Girls was filmed in Illinois, specifically Chicago and the areas of Cook County, Will County, McHenry, and Elburn. This notably differs from the comics which are set in Cleveland, Ohio.

In Cook County, the village of Wheeling was used as one of the filming locations. Northwest of downtown Chicago, the Wheeling Police and Fire Departments shared pictures of the filming to their Twitter account. Showing film crews working into the night, the caption said that they "had a blast learning the "biz"! Remember to tune in to Paper Girls when it premiers on Amazon Prime Video in 2022!”

The Cook County city of Prospect Heights was also used as a location. One fan following the filming action closely, shared an article and picture to Twitter, of the Paper Girls crew, preparing for filming.  

In August 2021, film crews were seen filming in Chicago’s Lakewood area. The Music Box Theatre was used, a 1920’s cinema showing independent, foreign, cult, and classic films. Pizza chain Lou Malnati’s also featured, with one fan taking their own video of the crews outside the famous pizzeria. Sharing the footage to Twitter, they used the caption “they’re filming in Lou Malnati’s omggg!”

Some scenes were shot in Cook County’s village of Glenwood. Arquilla Park, the predominant area used, saw residents unable to access their homes while filming took place. Speaking to 5Chicago, one resident spoke of being prevented from accessing his house by a road block. He said “Instead of coming home, we could have been aware and gotten a hotel for the night or for a few nights while they made their production”.

Joliet police station in Will County, McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry County, and Kane County’s Elburn village, also saw film crews descend. Many excited fans from Homewood, Illinois, shared pictures to Twitter of their town preparing for filming. One fan wrote “Homewood Illinois getting ready for filming Paper Girls Monday 8/2/2021” alongside pictures of a shop front.

When was Paper Girls filmed? 

Filming began in May, 2021, and finished on October 1, 2021.The series had been in development since 2019, finally being given the green light to begin production in 2020. 

Filming was scheduled to begin in March 2021,  but pushed back until May 2021. On May 17 2021, film crews arrived in Joliet, where the first scenes were filmed. Original comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan along with illustrator Cliff Chiang, act as executive producers for the series. 

Speaking to Comicbook, Vaughan suggested that of his comics adapted into TV series, Paper Girls was the most exciting. He said “It's been the best so far. Just seeing how much people love the comic, and comic fans, as I'm sure you well know, are not always happy with adaptations”. 

He continued to add “You can just tell the tone and the heart of it, so just seeing the way people already embraced it without having seen a minute of it, it's been breath taking”.

Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin in Amazon Video's Paper Girls

(Image credit: Amazon Video)

What year does Paper Girls take place? 

Paper Girls takes place in 1988. This is the same year as the comics are set, where the action kicks off during Halloween, 1988.

Paper Girls is a mystery and science fiction comic book series, following 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls Erin, MacKenzie (Mac) KJ, and Tiffany. The girls deliver papers in Stony Stream, a fictional suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. The morning after Halloween as they start their paper round, the town is struck by mysterious forces from the future - the girls are sucked into the conflict. The publication debuted on October 7, 2015 and concluded with the 30th issue on July 31, 2019. 

Speaking to Distractify, Brian K. Vaughan warned against viewers seeing the series as nostalgic. He said “So we wanted to do something that was anti-nostalgic, that was about recognizing we've actually made a lot of progress and it's worth pushing forward and looking ahead, not constantly dwelling in the past. So even though some of our show takes place in the '80s, it isn't so much a love letter as it is a death threat”.

Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, Ali Wong as adult Erin, and Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tieng in Paper Girls

(Image credit: Amazon Video)

How many books are in the Paper Girls series? 

There are 9 graphic novels in the Paper Girls book series. However, the series comprises 30 comics. The 30 issues are then subdivided into arcs containing 5 issues each.

Following the publication of the fifth book in an arc, the series would take a 3 month break. During the break, the paperback graphic novel of the 5 comic book arc would be published. Hardcover deluxe editions are also available, consisting of 10 comic book issues each. A compendium edition is also available, containing all 30 issues of the comic series. This is entitled Paper Girls: The Complete Story.  

Paper Girls: The Complete Story by by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang £30.45 | Amazon

Paper Girls: The Complete Story by by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang £30.45 | Amazon

Read the complete volume comprising all 30 comics in the series that inspired the major Prime Video series Paper Girls   

Will there be a Paper Girls season 2? 

There has been no announcement about Paper Girls season 2. However, there is wide speculation that due to the popularity of the comic and graphic novel series, a second season will be announced.

According to Screen Magazine, a second season announcement was expected as soon as filming wrapped for season 1. There had been reports that filming was set to continue in Chicago for season 2 in June of this year. It’s now being reported that Amazon Studios are waiting for the reaction to season 1 before making a decision. 

Speculation therefore suggests a decision on season 2 will be made by the end of the Summer. This means filming would likely commence in 2023, with a late 2023/early 2024 release date if season 2 is greenlit. 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.