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Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Back to the Future Movies



Scale Miniatures

For the scene in Back to the Future III when they use the locomotive train to get the Delorean up to speed, they used small-scale miniatures for the shot instead of using an actual locomotive and Delorean — which would have driven the budget through the roof!

Filming Over Water

For the shot in Back to the Future II when Marty flies over the pond on his hoverboard, the board was rigged to a track on the bottom of the pond so that it gave the appearance of gliding over the water. In order to get the right shot, the camera had to be positioned on a raft. Just to the side you can see a diver at the ready in case anything went wrong with the shot.

“Johnny B. Goode”

Marty playing a not-yet-written Chuck Berry song for the conservative high school prom is one of the highlights of the first film, and Michael J. Fox got so into it that he couldn’t stop playing even when the cameras stopped rolling!

Filming On Location

While small-scale models were used for some of the shots, the production still had access to the real Delorean and used it to film on location in California’s Monument Valley.

AT&T Phone Booth

Ever wondered what futuristic phone booths would look like? Well, of course now many phone booths have gone the way of the dodo, but back in the ‘80s it was just assumed that they’d always be around. And of course they had to get that AT&T product placement in there!

Courthouse Facade

The iconic courthouse from the first movie was filmed on the studio backlot, using a facade that was used for many other films (including To Kill a Mockingbird). Of course the shot was altered some in post production to include the clock and some other aesthetic changes. 

Utilizing Some Blue Screen

The scene in which Doc rescues Clara and carries her to safety using the hoverboard was too risky to film on location, so instead they were shot in a studio in front of a blue screen. They were strapped to a special rig that allowed them to move about as needed, and then they were later superimposed into the shot.

Four-Person Adjusted

One of the most classic elements from Back to the Future II was the self-adjusting shoes and jacket. Of course that technology wasn’t actually around back then (it’s just now being invented), so four people were needed lying just beneath the camera’s view to make the jacket adjust and have the shot look convincing.

Little Dolls 

When small-scale models were used, the production department had to create small dolls modeled off of Doc Brown and Marty in order to create the illusion that they’re inside the vehicle.

Taking a Break

Even filming for a movie like Back to the Future can be strenuous, as evidenced by director Robert Zemeckis taking it easy behind one of the futuristic taxi cab props.

Delorean Debris

Though some of the action revolving around the Delorean was done so using a model, the shot of the freight train destroying it when Marty comes back to the present day needed some full-scale production work. This photo shows the crew as they laid all of the debris needed for the shot just after its destruction.


Michael J. Fox and Claudia Wells take a moment to get into character right before the cameras start rolling.

Everyone Deserves a Break

It wasn’t just the humans who needed some downtime while filming. Doc’s dog Einstein needed just as much R&R as anyone else!

Say No To Nuclear Bombs!

This little detail may be easy to miss, but this photo shows the bumper sticker on the back of Doc Brown’s truck which humorously quips “One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.” How true that is! 

Little Rest for the Weary

Even filming for a light-hearted movie like this isn’t without its number of exhausting rigmaroles. Michael J. Fox would take any opportunity he could to get some rest in between takes.

Hoverboard Puppetry  

Ever wondered how they lifted Griff and his gang off the ground on their hoverboards? It was an elaborate but effective maneuver in which they managed to hang them from a giant rig that was controlled by a crane. Movie-making magic at its best!

Filming the Delorean Wagon

For the close up shots of Doc and Marty sitting on top of their rigged Delorean in Back to the Future III, production decided it would be far easier to film without having to deal with the live horses. As such, the Delorean had to be tethered to a filming truck.

Cafe ‘80s Food

Ever wondered what they ate during the ‘80s? According to Back to the Future II’s Cafe ‘80s, this is what the average diner would have served. Apparently the kale trend started way back then! Only it used to be fancier, with sliced lemons served atop.

Mr. Perfect

According to the second film, we should have discovered the all-natural steroid two years ago! We’re behind, folks, which is a true shame because so many of us could have looked just like that cartoon Arnold Schwarzenegger by now.

Killing Time

There’s a lot of down time when you’re filming a movie, and this quickly snapped image shows Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) taking it easy with Einstein the dog while waiting for the scene to be ready.

Hoverboard Stunts

The shot of Griff wiping out on his hoverboard was attained by hanging the actor from a rig in which his flips and rolls could be properly controlled.

Riding the Rails

While Fox waited on set, he spent much of his time just chumming about doing whatever he could find….including walking down the railroad tracks.

Hoverboard Rigging

There was a lot of rigging done for the hoverboard shots in Back to the Future II, but that’s because it was the most effective way to make them look convincing in a pre-CGI Hollywood.

Fixing the Model

Professionally-made though they may have been, sometimes even the scale models were nothing more than detailed plastic toys. As such, they were subject to breaking, especially while filming action-heavy shots.

Storing the Props

The crew didn’t have the resources to properly store all of the prop vehicles during filming of Back to the Future II, but nearby residents agreed to store the props inside their garages at the end of each day of filming.

Further CGI Shots

On top of the full-scale train and the 1/8th scale one, there was also another smaller one used for inside filming. It was used for only a few brief shots in which the train would have to be superimposed into the scene. 

Lookin’ Dapper

Ever the hipster, Michael J. Fox couldn’t help but be totally smooth everywhere he went. He managed to stay in character at all times. 

Doc’s “Time Train”

Doc Brown’s flying time machine train was actually a full-sized locomotive that was outfitted to look very “futuristic.” In this picture the train is sitting, just waiting to be used for filming.

Cafe ‘80s Interior

Though it might more resemble a Chuck E. Cheese’s than an actual diner from the ‘80s, this behind-the-scenes image still shows the colorful cafe when not full of extras for filming.

Save the Clock Tower Lady  

Fans of the first film will likely recall the woman who sat outside the courthouse trying to raise money to save the clock tower. Here you can see the actress as she waits between takes.

Nothing To Do But Wait

It takes a lot of work to set up a scene like the “Enchantment Under the Sea Dance” dance, and the extras would commonly have to just sit around and wait.

Mind the Gap

Actress Mary Steenburgen (Clara) was willing to do some of her own stunts for Back to the Future III — and that included hanging off the side of the train at full speed!

Getting Some Direction

This image shows director Robert Zemeckis giving some direction to Fox. Zemeckis always made sure his actors knew exactly what to do in a scene.

Achieving the Perfect Shot

The crew is checking on the Delorean while the cameramen get down to try to achieve the perfect shot of the vehicle racing towards the wall just before it zaps back into time.

Just For Close Ups

For the shots that would only contain the up close faces of the actors inside the Delorean, a special version of the vehicle was made that only had the front half of the car. It was also on a gimbal so as to allow it to move around.

Last Day of Filming

Following the final day of filming their scenes in Back to the Future III, Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox took the opportunity to take one last picture in front of the classic clock dressed in their western outfits.

The Tracking Shot

The town in Back to the Future II was a fully-constructed set, which allowed them to film any angle and still have something in the background. Here you can see the camera set up on rails to allow it to film a tracking shot of Marty on the hoverboard. 

Gaining the Right Perspective

The shot of the train pushing the Delorean used some small-scale models, but the camera needed to gain some height in order to achieve the right angle. This was done by placing it atop a vehicle designed for long tracking shots.