The filmmakers shot in the title town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, on Cape Ann outside of Boston, but finding the locations during a New England winter proved challenging.
“We arrived in February during the massive 2015 blizzard,” said production designer Ruth De Jong, who shared the above still that she took while scouting locations. “As soon as the roads were driveable, I began scouting with our location managers Kai Quinlan and Alex Berard. Both Kai and Alex were from the area, which made for lots of good conversations about their perspectives on Cape Ann and the people who made up the area. Along with scouting locations, I set out to meet the locals — shopkeepers, businessmen, policemen and fishermen — to gain insight into the area to help me figure out where each of our characters should live and why as well as learn about the fishing/working class industry, boat yards, and overall commercial fishing culture.”