Vancouver friends Gil Bellows and Tony Pantages have been talking about making a movie together for decades. So what better place to debut their first… Read More »VIFF: World Premiere of 3 DAYS IN HAVANA Co-Directed by Gil Bellows & Tony Pantages
How does Jack Petty (Gil Bellows), on a seemingly routine business trip to a conference in Havana, Cuba, become involved in an assassination conspiracy with… Read More »VIFF: Directors Gil Bellows & Tony Pantages’s Hitchcockian Thriller 3 DAYS IN HAVANA
Published May 31, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome
Live-tweets turned out to be the best thing about last weekend’s Leo Awards celebrating the best of B.C.-made film and television. Tweets from @LeoAwards gave an award-by-award account plus details of all the hijinks in between at both the Celebration and Gala Awards: hijinks that ranged from Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott mock-fighting over their award to Gala co-hosts Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne calling each other evil twin and English MILF to Nancy Robertson and Ryan Robbins pitching a new comedy series to Emilie Ullerup re-enacting Angelina Jolie’s notorious one-leg Oscars pose to acting legend Gabrille Rose swearing on stage while presenting the final award to Sisters & Brothers for Best Feature Film.
It was a great way to let the public share in this celebration of artistic talent after a tough week, which had started with the official cancellation of homegrown sci-fi series Sanctuary, the most-recognized B.C. production by far with 18 Leo nominations going in. Sanctuary ended up winning four Leos for its fourth and final season, but only one on the night of the gala for a guest performance by Arctic Air’s Pascale Hutton, who sang beautifully and turned her head right around in the Glee-meets-The-Exorcist episode Fuge.
I’d hoped for a repeat of last year’s wild times on the red carpet outside the Hotel Vancouver on West Georgia Street, but organizers moved the red carpet inside the hotel this year to the conference floor and restricted access. Most of the nominees kept the party going after the red carpet to take a turn at the new Media Wall by the bar where I had a spot, but it was so dimly-lit I had to jack some light from the pro-photographers’ flashes. Here’s The Express’s Johanna Ward interviewing nominee and eventual winner Johannah Newmarch on the red carpet about her supporting performance in mockumentary Sunflower Hour. Ward later dropped by the Media Wall to wrangle nominees Ali Liebert from Bomb Girls and Emilie Ullerup from Arctic Air as a backdrop to her standup.
You can see the start of Emilie Ullerup’s one-leg Angelina homage and how the popular Cassini brothers photo-bombed the arrangement. That’s Frank on the left and John on the right. Frank Cassini later won a roar from the crowd and a Leo for his supporting performance on Read More »BIG READ: LEO AWARDS Live-Tweets its Hotel Vancouver Gala
Syfy’s official cancellation today of our own little sci-fi success story Sanctuary marks the end of an era in Vancouver. For the first time in a decade, American cable network Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi) doesn’t have a single TV series filming here. They began with the sixth season of Stargate SG-1, then Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, mini-series Tin Man and Alice, Caprica, Stargate Universe, pilot Blood and Chrome, Eureka and Sanctuary, which both wrapped filming here last summer.
Until today there was a sliver of hope for a Sanctuary renewal even though the series, co-created by Stargate star Amanda Tapping, Stargate director Martin Wood and Stargate writer Damian Kindler, had to give up its Burnaby studio and even sell sets while it waited for a decision. Finally it came this afternoon: Sanctuary would not be returning for a fifth season, making last year’s fourth season its final one.
TV rules at B.C.’s Leo Awards, which is the opposite of most American award ceremonies where the hierarchy goes film, then television. So it’s fitting that this year’s hosts on May 26th at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will be Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne, the stars of homegrown sci fi series Sanctuary, which earned a whopping 18 nominations, including lead performance nominations for both Tapping and Dunne.
If you follow either of them on Twitter or tracked their progress at Comic-Con last year you’ll know that Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne are a madcap comedy duo off screen.
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
Published May 20, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
I did not expect to be able to feature all-Canadian sci-fi success story Sanctuary in this series because it almost never goes on location, filming everything on greenscreen at its Burnaby soundstage, with virtually no physical sets whatsoever. And then a friend of a friend’s husband watched Sanctuary bring its greenscreens outside a week ago to film a bloodied and beat-up Amanda Tapping at a nearby office complex, masquerading as an airport on the Indian Ocean islands of Comoros.
When I arrived, I joked with Sanctuary crew about the number of green travelling mattes (used for special effects) they’d brought to a real location, including a stack of smaller sizes on a cart at the back of their studio, an immense street-width screen by the Departs door and one regular-sized screen at the Arrive door. This is where I photographed guest star Sandrine Holt and Sanctuary star Amanda Tapping already in character and about to turn around to the camera to meet guest stars Carlo Rota ( 24 and Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Martin Cummins (V and Shattered) on the steps above. Sanctuary had filmed explosions the day before at Mammoth studios and Tapping did not go unscathed: wardrobe had dressed her in an artfully ripped sweater and bandaged arm and makeup painted blood on her knees.
Who is Amanda Tapping? She is our Queen of Sci-fi after ten seasons in combat boots on Stargate SG-1 as scientist-soldier Samantha Carter, followed by more seasons as Carter on Stargate spinoffs and then coming-up-on-four seasons in stilettos on Sanctuary as immortal 160-something Dr. Helen Magnus from Victorian England, who rescues genetic mutants called Abnormals and harbours them in her stately gothic mansion overlooking the fictional Old City in the modern world.
What makes Sanctuary so unique is that this castle-like facility doesn’t exist, except as an empty set with some minimal props Read More »BIG READ: SANCTUARY Takes Amanda Tapping and its Green Screens Outside