The new movie “Challengers” was mostly filmed in Eastern Massachusetts, but if locals aren't getting a sense of deja vu when they see it, that's deliberate. It also means that Boston-based location manager Mark Fitzgerald did his job well in picking dozens of local filming locations to fill in for well-known places all over the country.

In the movie, Zendaya plays Tashi, a tennis player turned coach who helps her husband, Art (Mike Faist), become a world-famous champion. To help Art break a losing streak, she has him play a challenger event, the lowest level on the pro tour. The plot revolves around the tension of Art facing his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend, Patrick (Josh O’Connor), on and off the court.

Fitzgerald was on set at most of the locations seen in the movie depicting tennis courts, hotels and a college campus from all across the country. He joined GBH News to talk about the experience of picking the right filming locations, working with director Luca Guadagnino and other favorite moments from his career. What follows is a lightly edited transcript.

Haley Lerner: How did the process start for finding locations when you began work on this film?

Mark Fitzgerald: With every movie, they send me a script. I read it a couple times, I break it out, I make a location list and write out all of the descriptions that are in the script. Then I'll get on the phone with the production designer, try to get more notes, try to get more description. Then I'll get in my car and head out. At this point, I have a digital library of thousands and thousands of locations.

But in every movie, there's always a few locations that you just don't have. And in this one, it was tennis courts and locker rooms. I didn't have a lot of tennis courts and locker rooms in my arsenal.

We went out and shot tennis clubs, colleges, private schools — we probably shot 70 places.

The original script had maybe 8 or 10 matches in it. They got kind of whittled down as the process goes, it just kind of became obvious we had too many tennis matches. There were 3 or 4 by the end of the movie, by the time we were done filming.

Every movie has somewhere between 30 and 60 locations. Say you have 45 locations. And your director and production designer want to see 10 or 20 options for each? Now you're talking about a thousand locations. It adds up quick.

Lerner: What are some locations shot in Massachusetts that locals might recognize on the screen in “Challengers”?

Fitzgerald: I mean, if we did our job right, they won't notice them for where they are because they're not what they are in the movie. Wheaton College became Stanford University in California.

In the movie, you're all over the country, and the trick was we're shooting this whole thing within 30 miles of Boston, but we're trying to find places that look like they're in Atlanta or California or New Orleans. So, that's a little bit of us and a lot of the art department working together to take a college campus tennis court and turn it into Stanford University.

We shot at The Newberry Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton... In the film, White Stadium in Franklin Park became the Atlanta Open. Wedgewood Swim and Tennis Club in Bedford became a country club in New Rochelle, New York.

We shot the whole movie pretty quickly – I think it was a 35 day shoot.

Lerner: What was it like being on the set of “Challengers”?

Fitzgerald: I got to be there from the beginning to the end. So, we scout the locations and then once they're found, it turns into kind of a logistical thing where once you pick a location.

We all know how hard it is to park our car in Boston, never mind trying to park 300 extras, 100 crew, 15 18-wheelers and your car. It makes for an interesting day.

Lerner: Working with director Luca Guadagnino and being with the cast on set, what was that experience like?

Fitzgerald: I've been doing it for a minute or two, but it never gets tiring for me. It's why I love it. It's always great meeting new people, not just the director and the actors, but you're always working with different crew members. I like to work with different people. You're always seeing different places.

Luca was a very interesting guy to work for. He's a director and a half. He's really got the eye for it. And, the two guys [Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor] are great. And Zendaya. I mean, I brought my daughter to set one day and Zendaya talked to her and was very kind and gracious to her. These people don't have to do that, so she was very nice to her and very kind.

Luca is one of the most sought after directors these days. So it's nice to have one of his films under my belt.

A man stans on top of a blue barrel on the top of a building, with skyscrapers behind him.
Mark Fitzgerald on the roof of The Union Oyster House. "We built a crazy rig over Marshall St (along the freedom trail) for a song and dance routine for the film 'Spirited'," he said.
Courtesy of Mark Fitzgerald.

Lerner: Your credits span an incredible list of films shot in Boston – do you have a favorite moment?

Fitzgerald: Well, most recently, we did this film called “The Instigators” [starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck]. It's not out yet. But Boston became a character in the film, and I love showing off the city. It's my home. It's where I love. It's my heart. Whenever you do a movie and it really captures the essence of the city, it makes me happy. We shot all the great parts of Boston – the Esplanade, Fenway Park, City Hall...

Lerner: You’ve worked on many iconic movies set in Boston – like “Fever Pitch.”

Fitzgerald: That was so great because, A, it was the Farrelly brothers and, B, it was the year they reversed the curse and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. And that was incredible. I had a laminated pass to Fenway Park for the entire season and all through the playoffs and it was something I'll never forget.

I think my favorite films are the ones with the locals, because we're all from the same place. So, you know, I did “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone” and a few others with Ben [Affleck].

I've done a few movies with Mark [Wahlberg], done a bunch of [Adam] Sandler films. On “Instigators.” I saw Matt [Damon] for the first time in 15 years and that was really great. The first big movie I did was “Good Will Hunting” with those guys. I love to do Boston movies with Boston people. I know it sounds kind of corny, but it's true.

I've done movies where we shot a whole movie shot in Boston, but in the movie it's New York and you spend your time trying to avoid the iconic thing. And that drives me up the wall a little bit.

Two men stand talking to each other on a street, with people standing behind them.
Mark Fitzgerald (right) speaking with Tom Tinlin in South Boston on the set of "Good Will Hunting." Fitzgerald said Tinlin was "telling me I made a mistake..."
Courtesy of Mark Fitzgerald

Lerner: As “Challengers” hits theaters, is it exciting for you to get to see the locations you picked out on screen?

Fitzgerald: Whenever I see a film for the first time, I'm always like, oh, that was the day the tent flew down, you know what I mean? Or, that was the day that we showed up and there was nowhere to park.

The first time I see it, I always remember the filming of it. And then the second time I see it, I get lost in it, and it's a much better experience for me.