Skip to content

smoke machines

SHOOT: GODZILLA Turns New Westminster Into Streets of San Francisco – Chinatown

The  U.S. military battled Godzilla in downtown New Westminster dressed as the streets of San Francisco a couple of weekends ago in three overnight shoots (June 7-9). On Friday night, the action started near the Arundel Mansion Hotel, a San Francisco-style apartment complex, on a strewn-with-debris-and-wrecked-cars Begbie Street. Crew wearing gas masks filled the half-block with smoke and pushed spectators back for safety reasons. A jump master (Jared Keeso) and about eight soldiers led Lieutenant Ford (star Aaron Taylor-Johnson) into a wall of smoke in Chinatown up at the corner, renamed the Jin Shufan Dim Sum Buffet (“Voted #1 in San Francisco”), in take after take.

Read More »SHOOT: GODZILLA Turns New Westminster Into Streets of San Francisco – Chinatown

SHOOT: GODZILLA’s Golden Gate Bridge Set with Inflatable GreenScreens

For locals, Godzilla‘s Golden Gate Bridge set is Rise of the Planet of the Apes redux on the vast Kent Hangar gravel field at the Vancouver/Burnaby border. Rust-red street lights and railings. Giant greenscreens. Motorists and buses trapped on the bridge. Soldiers. Cop cars. Only this time the showdown is between the military/police and Godzilla not empowered apes. Plus the giant greenscreens are inflatable, something we haven’t seen before.

Related: Rise of the Planet of the Apes Reshoots on Golden Gate Bridge Set at Kent Hangar Field

Lieutenant Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)’s son and schoolkid extras are on one of the Oakland, Alameda and Freemont school district buses evacuating San Francisco,  as tanks with soldiers rolled by yesterday.

Read More »SHOOT: GODZILLA’s Golden Gate Bridge Set with Inflatable GreenScreens

SHOOT: Rachel Nichols & 250 Protester/Police Extras Film CONTINUUM 2×10 in Gastown’s Blood Alley

Continuum staged a big protest scene in Gastown’s Blood Alley today with Vancouver-cop-from-the-future Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) shoved around in a crowd as hundreds of protester extras battled police extras in full riot gear. In one scene, Kiera ran out of the melee in her black high-tech cat suit, boots and a sky-blue jacket. But this was a rare sighting. Most of the time you couldn’t see her in the throng of up to 250 background performers.

Luckily, there’s another chance to see her at the Continuum panel at Fan Expo Vancouver this Saturday, April 20th, at Canada Place. Cast Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, Lexa Doig, Luvia Petersen, Stephen Lobo, Jennifer Spence and Omari Newton are scheduled to be there at noon in Ballroom A.  And fans are promised a sneak peek of season two, which premieres this Sunday, April 21st, at 9 p.m. on Showcase in Canada.

Read More »SHOOT: Rachel Nichols & 250 Protester/Police Extras Film CONTINUUM 2×10 in Gastown’s Blood Alley

SHOOT: METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER Stages Big Riot Scene Near Burrard Station in Downtown Vancouver

Metallica Through the Never (Working Title: CHAOS 3D) is big. A huge production for a concert movie. Crew made more smoke near Burrard Station in downtown Vancouver than thousands of tokers at a 4:20 rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. And the size of their smoke machines (see below) made TV series Supernatural’s seem puny. All the smoke, lights, artfully constructed debris and overturned vehicles formed a backdrop for a riot scene that will be part of Metallica’s concert movie. The heavy metal band already performed the concert part in Rogers Arena for three nights in a row. Now they’re doing the movie part all over downtown in overnight shoots in Arch Alley near Victory Square, a couple of Burrard intersections and now on Dunsmuir near the Burrard station. Last night’s riot had 400 extras as rioters and riot police, things on fire and riders on horses. The horses — who we’ve seen on screen galloping in Golden Ears Park for Once Upon a Time — seemed a little spooked by the smoke, the noise and all the spectators. I’d hope to see a stunt of a horse dragging a rider through the scene but imagine that was filmed much later on when no one was about. The Metallica movie is expected to wrap sometime Sunday.

Read More »SHOOT: METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER Stages Big Riot Scene Near Burrard Station in Downtown Vancouver

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS in Torrential Rain at Camp Half-Blood in Robert Burnaby Park

Tuesday in Vancouver started out sunny but by the time I reached the Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters set in Robert Burnaby Park, a huge black cloud had covered the suburb of Burnaby and unleashed a torrential downpour. And I mean torrential — as in rain-bouncing-a-foot-high-off-the-pavement-of-Edmonds-Street torrential.

That didn’t deter a dozen fans sheltering under a tree next to the Camp Half-Blood set. Nor did the smoke machines which filled the air with their acrid smell and obscured the actors they came to see. When I stripped out most of the smoke from my photographs taken from about a soccer field away, I spotted Brandon T. Jackson and the dreadlocks of Douglas Smith at the back of the communal table in the mess hall. Alexandra Daddario must have been on set too and Logan Lerman could be the blue-shirted guy at the front of the communal table, judging from the stamina of the fans. They sure do love their Percy Jackson, as I’ve discovered from so many asking me for sightings of the actor Logan Lerman on set and downtown.

Percy Jackson and his friends head into the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece and save Camp Half-Blood from attack by monsters in the second in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians franchise, a series of adventures based on Greek mythology.

Read More »PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS in Torrential Rain at Camp Half-Blood in Robert Burnaby Park

BIG READ: SUPERNATURAL in Gastown

Published August 15, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Gastown played host to Supernatural’s Winchester Brothers and their signature black Impala late last week for an epic two-day shoot which went past curfew hours on both Thursday and Friday nights. Since the show’s two stars, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki, don’t film downtown that often, this ranked as a big event in the Supernatural world. Local fans mobilized on Twitter for the chance to see their boys filming scenes of season seven’s fourth episode, Defend Your Life, apparently set in Dearborn, Michigan.

Filming notices posted in the impacted areas of Gastown and the downtown Eastside said the City of Vancouver had given Supernatural permission to film late both nights based on the positive results of a poll conducted in the neighbourhood. Around 10 p.m. on Thursday night, I watched crew hoist a film light from a genie parked outside Incendio’s, a light that would illuminate a block of Alexander street to film a scene of a vehicle chasing a pedestrian west towards the Gassy Jack statue and up onto the sidewalk on the north side. Suddenly a man with waist-length grey hair stormed past me, shouting “What is that noise?” I watched him argue heatedly with police and crew long after the light was up and quiet. I can only imagine the ruckus that happened at 1 a.m. when filming was expected to wrap, the light lowered and equipment packed into trucks. I might feel more sympathetic if it was my neighbourhood, but I was there to photograph the spectacle of Gastown lit up.

On Friday night, Supernatural had permission to film until 2:30 a.m. This time the big light was parked in Chinatown and hoisted closer to 10:30 p.m. to what looked like ten stories above street level. From there, it shone like moonlight on Carrall Street two blocks north to film another scene of a pedestrian being chased by a vehicle, this time into an alley. As I walked towards the closed-off, wetted-down 300 block of Carrall Street, I spied Supernatural’s smoke machines filling it with fake smoke. As actor Jim Beaver once explained about the show’s beautiful lighting: “Its texture is due to expertly placed lights seen through fake smoke. Lovely to breathe day in, day out”. That’s a bit of sarcasm. I can attest to its acrid, foul stench and wouldn’t want to be the crew guy who sat next to one on a Carrall Street bench. By the time I got there, quite a large crowd had gathered at the north end of the block near the Rainier Hotel to gawk at the crime scene with yellow tape, a Dearborn police car and Wayne Country Coroner’s van. I left around 11 p.m. before filming started but I expect the location only got rowdier, situated as it was on the edge of the Gastown party zone, less than half a block away from the Blarney Stone pub.

Supernatural actually began its two-day shoot in Gastown in the Blarney Stonemid-afternoon Thursday with four to five dozen extras inside. When I walked by I saw blacked-out windows for all interior scenes so I didn’t linger. I did plan to return for an exterior scenes with Jared Padalecki at the Rainier Hotel and Jensen Ackles in a suit buying flowers at Greenstems Floral on Abbott Street. Read More »BIG READ: SUPERNATURAL in Gastown

BIG READ: Jensen Ackles Directs a North Shore SUPERNATURAL

Published July 15, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Horror series Supernatural has an amazing international fan base: loyal, opinionated and insatiable for news of their beloved boys, the Winchester Brothers. So when word came that series star Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) would be directing season seven’s first episode filmed, everyone demanded that locations be found and photos taken. Filming of The CW series began last Wednesday but it took fans a few days to find their show at a Travel Lodge in North Vancouver last Friday night.

It was almost dusk by the time I arrived to catch a relaxed and happy director, Jensen Ackles, taking a break between motel room scenes to joke with one of the producers, various crew and his bodyguard/driver Clif out in the parking lot. He later looked down at his smart phone, chuckled and shared something funny: maybe some tweets from his series co-star Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester), who joined Twitter during the hiatus and has proved to be a crazy-fun tweeter, posting a photo of himself eating a steak and teasing veteran Supernatural tweeters Misha Collins (@MishaCollins) and Jim Beaver (@JumbleJim) with tweets. There’s only one problem: Padalecki can’t get verified despite an instant base of 100,000+ followers.

Jensen Ackles clearly enjoys directing after trying it out last season — flying in a week or so early to prep for directing episode four of season six. This time he’s directing a Sam-centric episode three of season seven. If you don’t want to spoiled about it, even a little, stop reading now.

Read More »BIG READ: Jensen Ackles Directs a North Shore SUPERNATURAL

BIG READ: OMC What a SUPERNATURAL Finale

Published May 26, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

I expect to see many OMC (Oh My Cas instead of Oh My God) tweets from Supernatural fans over the summer hiatus now that gravelly-voiced angel Castiel has promoted himself to God: “I’m your new God. A better one. So you will bow down and profess your love unto me your Lord or I shall destroy you.” The sixth season finale of the Vancouver-filmed horror series (which aired last Friday night in the U.S. and last night in Canada) ended with a slow pan in on the new God’s fanatical eyes.

A friend found a filming notice in late March for some season-finale scenes set to shoot downtown in a T-shaped alley between Seymour and Richards and around the Victorian Hotel on Homer. I put up the notice on #YVRshoots, which brought Supernatural fans out in droves to see their beloved Winchester brothers (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki), the brothers’ father figure Bobby (Jim Beaver) and the brothers’ former angel ally Castiel (Misha Collins) in action.

Thirteen hours of filming that day ended up as a handful of scenes Read More »BIG READ: OMC What a SUPERNATURAL Finale

BIG READ: FRINGE Night Shoot in Stanley Park

Published January 20, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Before I started this feature I made a promise to some friends that I wouldn’t pick a location shoot of sci-fi television series Fringe each week. It’s going to be a hard promise to keep because Fringe does some of the most visually-spectacular shoots in the city. Look at how the Fringe crew transformed an ordinary meadow in Stanley Park into something other-worldly on Monday night with big lighting cranes, rolling fog from smoke machines across Park Drive and temporary white tulips.

Fringe — which stars Anna Torv as FBI agent Olivia Dunham, Vancouver’s own Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop and John Noble as the delightfully-addled Dr. Walter Bishop – filmed its first season (2008-09) in New York and its second season (2009-10) in Vancouver. I started photographing Fringe in its third season (2010-11) and from what I’ve seen so far, it films on location more than any other series here. This DVR and streaming hit (up to 7 million U.S. viewers when delayed viewing included) has been known to shoot in three different Vancouver area locations on the same day and that shows on the screen.

On Monday, though, Fringe’s second unit seemed content to stick with just the one location near Second Beach in Stanley Park: filming scenes of Walter Bishop’s station wagon driving up and down Park Drive during the day, while others planted white tulips in the grass field towards Lost Lagoon for the night shoot.

After dark, the film lights went on and the crew started setting up a tracking shot of what appeared to be a young Olivia Dunham and young Peter Bishop talking in the tulips. Read More »BIG READ: FRINGE Night Shoot in Stanley Park