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Laurence Fishburne

BIG READ: Vancouver Director Jeff Renfroe’s Ice Age Thriller THE COLONY

Published April 25, 2013 on Vancouver is Awesome

How do you survive in a frozen world? The next ice age forces humans underground in Canadian sci-fi thriller¬†The Colony, which opens nationwide tomorrow. Directed by Vancouver’s own Jeff Renfroe,¬†The Colony¬†explores what happens when hunger and desperation below an icy surface lead to the kind of savage, animalistic behaviour we’ve seen shades of in real-word disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Reluctant hero Sam (Kevin Segers) accompanies Colony 7’s leader Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) on an expedition to the only other known outpost Colony 5 after receiving a distress call. Briggs leaves his below-ground colony at the mercy of hardass Mason (Bill Paxton) who’s itching to impose his own harsh regime where the sick are executed at the first sign of illness. “You’re a dick,” yelled a woman beside me at an advance screening. Deservedly so. But what the expedition find at Colony 5 is so much worse than Mason: wild, feral survivors who’ve lost their humanity completely.

How do you film a frozen world? Jeff Renfroe shot his $16 million feature in twenty-eight days in North Bay and Toronto, Ontario. On the first day of filming outside in North Bay, crew battled -30 temperatures which froze the camera lenses. Watching them fight the cold and pull it off, Bill Paxton dubbed the Colony crew “film animals”. Laurence Fishburne called another North Bay shoot the toughest location he’d ever seen. Weren’t you in Apocalypse Now?, Renfroe reminded the actor. Yes, Fishburne replied, but North Bay still ranked as his toughest. The frozen surface is almost all VFX. Colony crew shovelled snow into an airplane hangar, surrounded the set with green screens and shot through an open doorway.

Kevin Zegers and Laurence Fishburne in The Colony. Courtesy of EOne Films.
Laurence Fishburne, Director Jeff Renfroe and Kevin Zegers. Courtesy of EOne Films.

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