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WEEK: January 21-27, 2013

IN MEMORIUM: FRINGE’s Etta

Kidnapped as a child during Observageddon, Etta reunited with her amber-preserved parents, Peter and Olivia, and grandfather Walter in 2036. We had but a mere handful of episodes to get to know grownup Etta ( Georgina Haig) before she was killed by Captain Windmark last night in a shocker ending, filmed inside east Vancouver”s Terminal City Ironworks compound in early September. Kudos to the Fringies who were there and kept the secret of her demise for almost two months.

Read More »IN MEMORIUM: FRINGE’s Etta

VIFF: Vancouver as Vancouver in RANDOM ACTS OF ROMANCE

Published October 19, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome.

It’s not often in this series that I get an opportunity to talk about movies where Vancouver plays itself, but once a year several locally-filmed features are screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This year I got to see director Katrin Bowen’s sold-out Vancouver film Random Acts of Romance on my third try last Friday night.

“Sex, Abduction, Stalking and You Thought Romance Was Dead” is the tagline. The film opens in east Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel with our two married couples out for the evening: Amanda Tapping’s Dianne married to Zak Santiago’s younger man Matt and Laura Bertram’s young wife Holly married to Robert Moloney’s David. Elsewhere in the restaurant is Ted Whittall’s single sleezeball Richard, breaking up with his latest conquest. Add Sonja Bennett’s single, completely wacko stalker Lynne and Katharine Isabelle’s lesbian Bud to this mix of interconnected Vancouverites and you get random acts of violent romance.

At last Friday’s screening, the very tall Katrin Bowen (below) spoke about the importance of setting her movie in Vancouver in all its “rain, sex and awkwardness.” She wanted  the city to “take on a personna”. It helps that 95% of the movie soundtrack is music from Vancouver indie bands, many discovered at the Biltmore and Cobalt Hotels. And that there are so many scenes set in recognizable locations like the denouement of an abduction under the south end of the Burrard Bridge.

But the big question for the director last Friday was: how did you get Vancouver’s Sci-fii Queen Amanda Tapping to star in your movie? It turns out Katrin Bowen and Tapping became fast-friends years ago when Bowen worked as Tapping’s photo double/standin on the first Stargate TV series, Stargate SG-1. Read More »VIFF: Vancouver as Vancouver in RANDOM ACTS OF ROMANCE

BIG READ: FRINGE’s Epic Future Filmed at Olympic Village & B.C. Place

Published April 20, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

Tonight’s Fringe — called Letters of Transit — promises to be epic, apparently set in the year 2036 in the world of the Observers, with big scenes of background performers dressed in their grey suits and fedoras filmed at the Olympic Village and on a concourse in B.C. Place stadium. Can you remember any TV production ever renting out even part of new B.C. Place for filming?

This is huge. Why is John Noble’s Walter Bishop in the future with Lost’s Desmond, aka Henry Ian Cusick? Vancouver’s own Fringe star Joshua Jackson has said this is where “the door to [Fringe’s] fifth season is opened” and plays into the decision to film two season four endings, one that would be used if Fringe is renewed (presumably related to the future Observer world) and the other if the show is cancelled.

.Joshua Jackson will be live-tweeting tonight with his handle @VanCityJax using the Fringenuity hashtag #FighttheFuture, along with Fringe showrunners Joel Wyman, @jwfringe, and Jeff Pinker, @jpfringe.

The Fringe Campaign, launched by Fringe fans at Fringenuity and adopted by Fringies the world over, is now backed by Fringe Read More »BIG READ: FRINGE’s Epic Future Filmed at Olympic Village & B.C. Place

RECAP: FRINGE’s The Consultant With Set Photos

Does David Robert Jones want to destroy both Fringeverses? Is that his ultimate game plan? In The Consultant he experiments with syncing the two parallel universes of Fringe.

Episode eighteen opens with the funeral of Captain Lee (Seth Gabel), killed on David Robert Jones (Jared Harris)’s orders with information from Col. Broyles (Lance Reddick), the mole in the alternate universe’s Department of Defence. I’d heard about this shoot filmed in Vancouver’s Mountainview Cemetary on a miserably wet February day with a hundred extras and now that I know what it was, I’m not sorry to have missed it.

Still in Manhatan (only one t), Fauxlivia (Anna Torv) confronts Meana (Blair Brown’s evil alt-Nina Sharp) in prison to try to get her to give up the name of the DOD mole, without success.

This week’s Fringe case starts at a business meeting in our universe where an executive is about to get fired when his boss suddenly levitates and then falls down on the conference table with such force that it breaks bones in his body.

Junior agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) drives Walter Bishop (John Noble) to the crime scene in the Bishop wagon, while he complains about her “wild driving”. They meet up with Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), aka POlivia, as shippers have dubbed them. “Look. It’s my son and his girlfriend,” exclaims a giddy Walter. Our Fringe family is back together and outside of Walter’s lab, filming at CBC Vancouver in mid-February.

Inside the conference room, Peter Bishop notices seat belt marks on the body which leads to the discovery that the boss’s doppleganger in the alt-universe died in a plane crash. What is causing these in-sync deaths?

Walter decides to go to the Other Side to act as a consultant to their investigation. “I always like to empty my bladder before a long trip,” he declares, before crossing the bridge that links the two universes. Read More »RECAP: FRINGE’s The Consultant With Set Photos

BIG READ: Making of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL

Published January 10, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

UPDATE: Worldwide Box Office — US$695 million.

The round-the-world spy thriller Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol has more Vancouver in it than the Mumbai running scene outside the Vancouver Convention Centre which I wrote about in my inaugural #YVRShoots series post and the Seattle post-mission team beer at a table on Granville Island which I covered in my second post about the Tom Cruise franchise filming here. Director Brad Bird filmed the last shot of Josh Holloway’s Budapest alley death scene in between the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts; the Moscow scene where the team gets its Kremlin mission beneath the Burrard Bridge; the Kremlin explosion in a giant blue screen box at a gravel field near the Fraser River path; some of the Dubai sandstorm scene at an Arab market set at that same gravel field; the Sun Network station in Mumbai at a Richmond office park and the Mumbai automated car park scene inside a vast Vancouver Drydocks warehouse in North Vancouver.

Tom Cruise and his co-stars did go on location with Brad Bird and crew to Prague and Dubai before their final three months of shooting in Vancouver in late 2010 and early 2011, with the second unit filming scenes without cast in Moscow for a week and in Mumbai for the BMW coupe racing-through-the-streets sequence. Prague doubled for Budapest and Moscow, with some exceptions. And the Dubai showpiece of Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt scaling and swinging from the tallest building in the world could not have be done anywhere but the actual Burj Khalifa.

Almost everything else happened here in studio at Canada Motion Picture Park or on location in the Vancouver area. It’s a credit to our crews and VFX expertise that the only things that give us away are glimpses of the Vancouver Convention Centre and a lit-up southwest False Creek between the Burrard and Granville Bridges.

So far, I’ve seen Mission Impossible -Ghost Protocol twice in theatres. Once to simply enjoy Brad Bird’s first big action movie with a non-animated cast and the second time to nail down as many of the Vancouver locations as possible. Despite my best efforts I’m sure I missed several.

The fourth in the Mission Impossible movie franchise opens with Josh Holloway as IMF agent Trevor Hanaway in Prague-as-Budapest trying to intercept a courier of a threat codenamed COBALT at a train station. Then we’re treated to Tom Cruise’s Moscow prison escape to the tune of Dean Martin’s Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, likely filmed here given the numerous Vancouver paparrazi shots of Cruise in his dirty white muscle shirt from prison. Post-escape Cruise meets his new team: Simon Pegg as newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn and Paula Patton as Hanaway’s team leader Jane Carter while they drive around in a Russian van. Read More »BIG READ: Making of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL

BIG READ: Above MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL on Granville Island

Published March 4, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Where has Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol been? Sightings of four-year-old Suri Cruise, the adorable fashionista/bookworm daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, have been more plentiful than sightings of TANK production signs in January and February. I wondered if there would be any more big location shoots before the film wrapped this month. And then this week, Mission Impossible 4 (MI-4) lit up west False Creek at night like it’s never been lit before (not even during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics) as a backdrop to Tom Cruise and his co-stars at Granville Market.

Word spread that MI-4 would be filming on Granville Island within hours of the Vancouver Arts Club tweeting a photo on February 16th of Tom Cruise visiting a set under construction on the waterfront nearby. I checked its progress and it turned out to be Pier 47 (not Pier 67) in Seattle. Crew later added King County Water Taxi signs and two prop water taxis which docked during scenes.

MI-4’s dazzling display of light is what made this three-night shoot so extraordinary to see. Half a dozen giant film lights illuminated the area on Tuesday and Wednesday nights until 6 a.m. the next morning, including one placed on a barge floating in the middle of False Creek. Additional flat lights shone down from trucks parked on the Granville Bridge and other flat lights shone up on the bridge girders from trucks parked underneath. One irate, sleepless woman living in one of the condominium towers took her complaints directly to the site where MI4 stored the flat lights during the day. Maybe she got some relief Thursday night, the third and final night of the shoot, although I saw the MI-4 site glow from my home in south False Creek well after midnight.

The MI-4 crew appears to have done all of this – the Seattle set, dozens of flat and other film lights and hundreds of extras — as a backdrop mainly for scenes of Tom Cruise and his co-star Jeremy Renner (Oscar nominee for Hurt Locker and The Town) drinking Dosequis beer Read More »BIG READ: Above MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL on Granville Island