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WEEK: July 8-14, 2013

WEEK: April 1-7, 2013

SHOOT: At the POlivia House in Burnaby for FRINGE’s Final Scenes – Updated

On a sunny but freezing Friday afternoon last December, Fringe took a break from studio to film a coda to season five’s opening scenes of Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) out for a family picnic with their daughter Etta (Abagayle Hardwick) in 2015. A family picnic that was interrupted by Observageddon, the Observer invasion from the future, and the abduction of little Etta.

RELATED: Fringe family picnic in Stanley Park

This is what POlivia fought to get back to. If time was to be reset, then there must be a different outcome to this idyllic family picnic. One where the Observers never come and our family goes home to their POlivia house and happy life.

But how to film this in December? Very quickly of course. Especially with Joshua Jackson dressed in the same grey t-shirt and beige shorts, Anna Torv in the same long blue shirt and jeans and young Abagayle Hardwick in the same flowered dress as the Stanley Park shoot last summer. In the new coda, the Bishops leave the park together and drive back to their POlivia house Read More »SHOOT: At the POlivia House in Burnaby for FRINGE’s Final Scenes – Updated

What Neill Blomkamp’s Upcoming Sci-Fi Film ELYSIUM is About

So we have some scoop on what director Neill Blomkamp’s latest sci-fi project Elysium is about, after got its hands on an advance sceening ticket which had a detailed plot synopsis. I’d worked out some of the story last summer during the film’s three-month shoot in Vancouver, which I wrote about in my YVRShoots series, but there is still a lot we don’t know.

Elysium turns out to be the name of the vast, luxurious space station constructed by Armadyne where the very rich live in the year 2159  (want-ads for Armadyne popped up at last year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, 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 Matt Damon is Max (link to first official photo), who takes on the mission to bring equality to these polarized classes. He’s going up against Jody Foster as Minister Delacourt [corrected], a hard-line govenment official, who will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the grandiose lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium in space (Foster returned for reshoots this spring but not Damon).

Since Matt Damon was seen filming scenes in blue workmen’s garb [corrected] last summer at Vancouver Technical School, Riverview Hospital and out in Delta, could this be how Max is forced to take on the mission? And could this be how Max will save his own life? The Grouse Grinder also spent weeks filming at a mansion facade and temporarily-planted tropical garden on the vast gravel field at Kent and Boundary in Vancouver. The blue rectangles are thought to be a spaceship, the fake palm trees have no fronds, the small piles of sand seem to represent a manmade beachs and huge blue screens ringed the set. Interior scenes were filmed at the other end of Vancouver in a real-life mansion at 51st and Macdonald behind Jurassic Park-sized hedges. I’m now wondering if this mansion is on the Elysium space station, not on Earth as I originally thought.

Read More »What Neill Blomkamp’s Upcoming Sci-Fi Film ELYSIUM is About

BIG READ: ONCE UPON A TIME is Fall TV’s Biggest New Drama Hit

Published December 9, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Modern fairy tale series Once Upon a Time is American TV’s biggest new fall drama, putting the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, on the map. Normally played by Moncton Street in the village of Steveston, pieces of Storybrooke can pop up anywhere in the Vancouver area from Fort Langley to New Westminster to North Vancouver. For its October 23rd debut, the freshman show commanded an amazing 13 million American viewers and the next three episodes stayed steady at 11 milliion. On the American Thanksgiving weekend, an episode held its own against Sunday night football. And while last Sunday’s Prince Charming episode marked a series low, the hashtag #OnceUponaTime topped worldwide trending on Twitter during the broadcast. So it’s much more than a family show — the 18-49 demos are great too. Tune in this Sunday for the Fall Finale.

Created by Lost writers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, Once Upon a Time airs on ABC, whose Disney parent company owns the rights to most of the world’s fairy tales. That’s essential since the show mixes reality and fantasy from present-day-but-frozen-in-time Storybrooke to flashbacks of a fairy tale world lost when the Evil Queen cursed all the fairy tale characters to spend their lives in the real world without getting happy endings or even knowing their true identities. Prince Charming (Josh Dallas of Thor) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin of Big Love)’s daughter Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison of House) has grown up in the real world without knowing her fairy tale parents. When Henry (Jared Gilmore), the son Emma gave up for adoption a decade earlier, finds her and begs her to come back with him to Storybrooke to break the curse. things start to change — but not too quickly we hope.

In a delicious twist, the Evil Queen happens to be Henry’s adoptive mother and Storybrooke mayor Regina (Lana Parrilla) in the real world, someone who does not want Henry’s real mother in town at all. I have watched a few Regina vs Emma confrontations being filmed already, the latest in an epic windstorm at Garry’s Point in Steveston last month. Henry’s castle had been damaged and I’m not alone in suspecting Regina is behind it. Be warned: there are mild to medium spoilers throughout this post.

I wrote about the filming of the Once Upon a Time pilot and Evil Queen-centric second episode for my YVRShoots series in the summer. I’ve since learned more about how the fairy tale world scenes are created using revolutionary Z.E.U.S. visual effects technology. If you looked through the camera lense or on the director/producer monitors during filming of the wedding of Prince Charming to Snow White in the pilot, you’d have seen a detailed ballroom wedding scene rendered in real time while elaborately-costumed Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin performed on a mostly empty green screen stage with costumed extras. Read More »BIG READ: ONCE UPON A TIME is Fall TV’s Biggest New Drama Hit


Published May 12, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

I came to the Stargate TV franchise at the tail end of its incredible 14-year run in Vancouver. The third and final series Stargate Universe (SGU), set aboard an Ancient starship called the Destiny, reminded me of Battlestar Galactica, my favourite sci-fi series ever, also filmed here. Only the long, complex mythology of the long-running sci-fi Stargate saga occasionally defeated me.

To summarize: stargates are ring-shaped technology from the Ancients which create wormholes that allow travel between worlds cosmic distances away. In the 1994 MGM feature film Stargate, one is discovered on Earth and kept secret from the public by the U.S. military. Following up on the movie’s mammoth success, TV series Stargate SG-1 began filming in Vancouver in 1997 and ran for ten seasons. Partway through. a spinoff Stargate Atlantis (SGA) — set in the legendary city of Atlantis — launched in 2004 and ran for five seasons. It seemed like Stargate, already setting records for series longevity, would go on forever here when the third series Stargate Universe (SGU) started airing in 2009, but it was not to be.

Darker-edged but more critically-acclaimed Stargate Universe took home six Leo awards at last year’s annual celebration of film and television in British Columbia, winning Best Dramatic Series and Best Supporting Actress for Julia Benson. I took photos of Destiny crew Benson (Lt. James), Patrick Gilmore (Volker), Elyse Levesque (Chloe) and fan favourite Lou Diamond Phillips (Col. Telford) on the red carpet, without knowing what characters they played.

Not long after, I caught up with Stargate Universe’s first season and wondered if it would be possible to see them filming any of the second season on location in Vancouver. That was easier said than done, since 80% of SGU was filmed on studio sound stages, i.e. the Destiny, with the production only going on location to film rare planetary visits using the ship’s stargate or Earth visits using the communication stones (don’t ask).

Four months later, I found Stargate Universe filming a planetary visit at the old Terminal City Ironworks site (often used by film & TV productions) in East Vancouver. SGU filmed there for several days with a CGIed Stargate inside one of the buildings and virtually the entire cast there, with the exception of Robert Carlyle (Rush) and David Blue (Eli) left aboard the Destiny in studio. I photographed a green-screen on the roof to CGI a scene of Louis Ferreira (Col. Young) looking down on a deserted city: “It wasn’t abandoned. These people were wiped out.” I didn’t stick around once they finished the roof scene and moved inside, so I didn`t get to witness any of the cast`s crazy antics or shenanigans often involving cutup Ferreira, but I did see a happy and relaxed Jamil Walker Smith (Master Sgt. Greer) and Alaina Huffman (TJ), with her two young children, chatting outside their trailers with crew and fans while Ming-Na (Camille Wray) strolled around the block in the sun. SGU filmed other key scenes of this deserted city at the old Watchmen set in Burnaby. And these scenes ended up in the penultimate episode of the SGU series, in fact of the entire Stargate TV franchise.

More critical acclaim fell on Stargate Universe’s first season when the series earned multiple Gemini Award nominations last fall, including one for Best Dramatic Series. The entire cast and the creators flew to Toronto for an action-packed day on November 12th, with stops at Canada AM and then an InnerSPACE: SGU Special Read More »BIG READ: STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU) Meets its Destiny