Originally David Fincher and the other producers hired Fincher "protege" Fred Durst to direct "Dogtown," with Fincher helping out with the second unit skateboarding scenes. As Durst's participation came into doubt, Fincher then became the director, even going as far as having sets built, doing extensive pre-visualizations for the feature and hiring Roger Avary to rewrite the script. Fincher then left to take on another feature, paving the way for former Production Designer Catherine Hardwicke to sign on based on the success of her first feature Thirteen (2003).
Many parts of the dilapidated pier set (e.g. the big dipper) were added using CGI to keep costs down. However, the derelict ferris wheel was real and had been purchased on eBay for a few thousand dollars.
Lindsay Lohan was originally set to have a supporting role in the film, playing a love interest for the character Tony Alva. She eventually had to drop out of the film shortly after being cast due to major scheduling conflicts. Her character was then written out of the script just before filming began.