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VIFF INDUSTRY: ONCE UPON A TIME’s Jane Espenson, EUREKA’s Amy Berg & CONTINUUM’s Simon Barry on 2012 Writers Panel

VIFF Forum 2012 – Creating Sci-Fi Story Worlds from VIFF on Vimeo. Jane Espenson: Writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica and consulting… Read More »VIFF INDUSTRY: ONCE UPON A TIME’s Jane Espenson, EUREKA’s Amy Berg & CONTINUUM’s Simon Barry on 2012 Writers Panel

BIG READ: Vancouver Productions Working the Comic-Con Craziness

Published July 9th, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

How’s this for Comic-Con craziness? Comic-Con tweeted Twilight fans today asking them not to start lining up outside the San Diego Convention Center three days before the convention starts on Thursday like they did last year. The anual geekfest doesn’t want them to erect another Camp Twilight tent city either. Any Twihard or TwiMom who tries to line up earlier than tomorrow or brings more than a chair and a sleeping bag with them, risks not being among the six thousand-plus lucky enough to get into the final vampires & werewolves panel at lunchtime on Thursday. If asked to leave, they’ll miss seeing exclusive footage from the mainly Vancouver-shot The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2 and celebrity trio Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautner in person. Organizers have scheduled the final Twilight movie as the first official panel in marquee Hall H so that Twilight teens and their Moms can’t ruin Comic-Con like they have in the past.

[Update: A Twilight fan who’d been camping outside the San Diego Convention Center since Sunday was struck and killed by an SUV on Tuesday morning while rushing to cross the street to get back to the lineup which Comic-Con organizers were moving. Fellow fans are trying to organize a moment of silence in her honour during the Breaking Dawn 2 panel.]

Once the Twihards have gone home, Comic-Con is free to fly its geek flag until Sunday night, epitomized by what could be 2012’s hottest panel — the 10th Anniversary reunion of the cast (and creator) of space western Firefly, featuring Canada’s own browncoat Nathan “Captain Tightpants” Fillion. Is cult TV once again dominating big budget movies at Comic-Con with Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory panels all in high demand too?

Maybe, maybe not. Iron Man 3 is a hot ticket, as are the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures and Sony Pictures panels in Hall H. Who doesn’t want to see footage from The Hobbit, which just wrapped filming in New Zealand? Or get a first look at two other mainly Vancouver-shot movies: the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill (seen below filming a shirtless green screen rescue scene in North Vancouver) as part of the Warner Bros. panel on Saturday afternoon and mysterious space station movie Elysium starring Matt Damon (link to first official photo) and Jody Foster as part of the Sony panel on Friday afternoon. Vancouver director Neill Blomkamp will be on hand with his stars to answer questions about the followup to his Oscar-nominated first feature District 9. It turns out Elysium is the name of a vast space station constructed by a company called Armadyne where the very rich live in the year 2159  (want-ads for Armadyne  popped up at last year’s Comic-Con, the start of a viral campaign for the movie). The rest of us –- the 99% if you will — live on the over-populated, ruined planet Earth below. A bald, buff  Damon is Max, who goes up against Foster as hard-line government official Minister Delacourt [corrected], who will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the grandious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium in space (the mansion set below on Kent Hangar field could be on the space station).

Read More »BIG READ: Vancouver Productions Working the Comic-Con Craziness

Filming of Tonight’s Sheriff Carter Stunts for #Eureka – Updated

On tonight’s Eureka, Allison Blake’s snobby brother Marcus comes to town to meet his new Sheriff brother-in-law, Jack Carter. Fun fact: Marcus, who is prejudiced against “dumb people”, is played by Salli Richardson-Whitfield’s real-life husband Dondre Whitfield. 

Marcus meets Colin Ferguson’s Sheriff Carter and Trevor Jackson’s Kevin chasing and trying to catch what will turn out to be a crazy pair of robotic legs after computer-generated effects. During the filming in downtown Chilliwack dressed as Eureka, a stunt woman in a green skinsuit and a crew member carrying a mannequin leg played this extremely agile lower torso. I can’t wait to see it.

Of course this is how the supercilious Marcus meets Carter: lying pinned to the grass by those robotic crazy legs wrapped around his neck.

Read More »Filming of Tonight’s Sheriff Carter Stunts for #Eureka – Updated

BIG READ: EUREKA Series Finale

Published September 19, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

The fourth season of life in the charmingly-eccentric and scientifically-dysfunctional town of Eureka ends with a big emotional cliffhanger tonight on the Syfy network in the U.S. We will have to wait three more weeks in Canada to start seeing the back half of season four on the SPACE channel. And the fifth and final season of Eureka won’t air until sometime next year in either country (apart from the animated Christmas episode this December). That’s why it feels so strange to write about or show anything of the Eureka series finale, which wrapped filming in Vancouver before the Labour Day weekend. Everything is a potential spoiler.

A month ago, Eureka crew transformed two blocks of Wellington Street in Chilliwack into the Main Street of their fictional town for the very last time: erecting the large Sheriff’s Office and Cafe Diem facades, adding the fake bronze statue/fountain of Archimedes and putting their own signage on the Teddy Bear Dreams clothing store (the owner told me Eureka star Salli Richardson-Whitfield bought several items there over the years). Production also set up running tabs at two downtown Chilliwack institutions: the Decade Coffee House and Sticky’s Candy, where a young salesgirl showed me the empty vats of ice cream consumed by Eureka crew in a day’s filming.

Cast and crew seemed just as verklempt at that last shoot in Chilliwack as the fans who’d come to say goodbye. I saw Salli Richardson-Whitfield hugging the Eureka stunt coordinator and Tembi Locke snapping photos with her camera phone of her TV husband Joe Morton. One of the Eureka producers brought his fancy DSLR to play set photographer, posing Colin Ferguson and Salli Richardson-Whitfield on a bench ahead of their big scene together. Director Matt Hastings couldn’t resist photobombing that beautifully-staged shot, which made everyone laugh and then cry.

Laughter and tears. Everything about that day in Chilliwack seemed bittersweet. Syfy had renewed and then cancelled Eureka earlier in August, belatedly coughing up enough money to film this last-minute wrap-up episode. Read More »BIG READ: EUREKA Series Finale

BIG READ: Filming Christmas in Summer

Published August 22, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

It sounds crazy to film Christmas TV in the summer heat but it happens every year. Of the more than a dozen Christmas-themed TV movies expected to air in the U.S. this December at least three filmed in Vancouver in July and August. And last week in Chilliwack, Syfy series Eureka filmed real scenes for its animated season five holiday episode called Do You See What I See?, laying out snow on a Christmas-decorated-to-the-max Wellington Street very early Thursday morning.

It took Eureka crew a couple of hours last Wednesday night to build Christmas, unloading trees with lights, garlands, candy canes, nutcrackers and a large snowman. The Euripedes statue/fountain in front of the Sheriff’s Office got its own Santa hat. After it was all done, I watched them shoot a key scene of Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Jack Carter, Kavan Smith as robot Deputy Andy and Chris Gautier as Cafe Diem chef gathered around a bright red holographic projector designed to create a faux winter wonderland on the street. Unfortunately, as often happens in Eureka, something goes array and thesuper photon generator sends a kaleidoscopic wave of holographic overlay from a video game that envelops the town leaving all its inhabitants animated. If you thought Eureka couldn’t get any quirkier, imagine your favourite characters as Looney-Toon cartoons, claymation or anime, as well as the more regular CGI. Apparently, our cartoon heroes have until Christmas morning to reverse it or remain animated forever.

Chris Parnell of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame reprises his role from last year’s Christmas special as Dr. Noah Drummer, part of a star-studded roster of guest stars. Edward James Olmos of Battlestar Galactica voices a sled dog pack leader who befriends Deputy Andy and Matt Frewer of Alice and Max Headroom plays an animated version of himself as a polar bear who befriends Jo Lupo. Read More »BIG READ: Filming Christmas in Summer

BIG READ: EUREKA’s Colin Ferguson Does Stunts in Chilliwack

Published July 28, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Syfy’s summer hit series Eureka goes largely unnoticed filming here, even when it transforms Wellington Street in Chilliwack into the Main Street of Eureka, a remote Oregon town populated by geniuses and scientists whose inventions have a habit of going array and threatening everything nearby. So it was surprising to me how big this small town is at Comic-Con (the annual San Diego geek fest), where thousands of fans sang Happy Birthday to Eureka star Colin Ferguson last Friday afternoon as he filmed it on his flipcam.

Ferguson, who plays the relatively ordinary Sheriff Jack Carter who tries to contain whatever disasters Eureka’s brilliant scientists unleash each week, flew down to San Diego with other main cast last Thursday after spending all day Wednesday filming an episode in Chilliwack. Crew had brought their own grass, a fountain/statue of Euripedes, large Eureka Sheriff’s Office and Cafe Diem facades, an O2 bar, smart cars, Main Street and Euripedes street signs, Weather Predictor screens, Young Hover Drivers and 1-Hour Hologram Processing billboards and Eureka Hobby Expo and Craft Fair posters to transform two blocks of Wellington Street into the centre of a very eccentric fictional town. Ferguson even did his own stunts in scenes where he and young Trevor Jackson lept around trying to catch something we couldn’t see, possibly the leg of a floating woman enacted by a green-suited stunt performer.

Crew even mimicked the movement of a floating woman with a mannequin leg. Later the stunt coordinator demonstrated what would be a full-frontal collision between Ferguson and the green-suited stunt performer. After watching, Ferguson declared: “That’s funny. I want a cup.” No one had one but he shoved something makeshift down his pants anyway, joking with the stunt performer “We’re friends. We like each other, right?” The stunt went off without incident Read More »BIG READ: EUREKA’s Colin Ferguson Does Stunts in Chilliwack

BIG READ – Working the Comic Con Craziness in 2011 – Updated

Published July 21, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

How’s this for Comic-Con craziness? Twihards starting lining up outside the San Diego Convention Center three days early (on Monday) to be among the six thousand lucky enough to get into The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 1 panel in Hall H, which took place just before lunchtime today. Breaking Dawn 1 was the first panel in Hall H so that Twihards couldn’t ruin Comic-Con like they usually do. What’s even more crazy? That the vampires and werewolves of the mainly Vancouver-shot Breaking Dawn 1 aren’t the most popular panel of the hundreds at Comic-Con 2011. Not even close. That honour belongs to the zombies of AMC TV series The Walking Dead.

Breaking Dawn 1 isn’t even among the most popular of Vancouver-filmed movies and TV series at Comic-Con, which has become less about big movies and more about cult television series in recent years. Locally-shot TV series Pscyh cracked the Top 25 most popular panels and Fringe, Eureka, Supernatural and Alcatraz are all in the Top 50. Breaking Dawn 1 and Underworld Awakening (the fourth in the movie franchise but only the third to star Kate Beckinsale and her vampire cat suit) barely made the Top 50 cut.

Psych presented today to standing-room-only, people-turned-away capacity, with Psych-os either dressed as pineapples or carrying them. Apparently series star James Roday (seen above directing a vampire-themed episode) improvised with a pineapple in the show’s premiere and there’s been one hidden in every episode since. Nominally a detective series, Psych knows how to play to a Comic-Con crowd, with several episodes in its sixth season (now filming in Vancouver) crossing over into genre stuff like vampires, super heroes and Star Trek. In a real casting coup, the original Captain Kirk — William Shatner — plays the father of one of the main cast in an episode filmed Read More »BIG READ – Working the Comic Con Craziness in 2011 – Updated