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Victory Square

BIG READ: Vancouver’s CONTINUUM & PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD at First Fan Expo Vancouver

Published April 17, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

Imagine two Vancouver-as-Vancouver TV series filming here, with B.C. Place stadium, the central Vancouver Public Library, Woodwards’ revolving “W”, Granville Island, Stanley Park and other local landmarks as themselves. It’s so rare for us to have one Vancouver-set series filming here, far less two. So come to our city’s first Fan Expo this Saturday, where you’ll get sneak peeks of both, as well as the chance to meet the showrunners and cast.

Continuum is about some kind of future officer named Kiera Cameron who travels back in time from Vancouver in the year 2077 to Vancouver in the year 2012, chasing a group of terrorists who plan to change the future from the past. You may have seen some of the spectacular-future-downtown-skyline teasers on Showcase, where the 10-episode series debuts in late May. Or the 2077/2012 split skylines on the Continuum show poster.

Continuum stars Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron, who joins the local Vancouver police force with Victor Webster as her 2012 detetective partner. You can see Nichols as her character filming in Vancouver with the Woodwards “W” in the background in a promo photo from the show. I’ve photographed Continuum filming at Victory Square, outside and inside the central Vancouver Public Library, The Centre and CBC Vancouver so far with prop Vancouver Police cars and VPD extras alongside real ones. Below is my photo of Nichols exiting an unmarked police car with the Vancouver Public Library reflected in the windshield. And below that is my photo of  Nichols and her co-star Victor Webster filming in a snowstorm at Victory Square. It will be a veritable Vancouver-palooza in each episode.

Read More »BIG READ: Vancouver’s CONTINUUM & PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD at First Fan Expo Vancouver

RECAP: Everything in its Right Place on FRINGE – Updated

Oh how I’ve missed you, alt-universe. Fringe returns to the Other Side in episode seventeen, Everything in its Right Place, with Anna Torv’s Fauxlivia toting a big gun as Seth Gabel’s Agent Lee faces off with Seth Gabel’s Captain Lee (Fringenuity‘s episode hash tag was a spot-on #FaceYourself).

So we had a double dose of Lincoln Lees but when Seth Gabel played both in Victory Square in downtown Vancouver on February 8th, I only managed to get decent shots of Fauxlivia, although I did see Captain Lee get shot (a spoiler I kept to myself because I couldn’t bear the thought of Fauxlivia losing her Lincoln Lee).

This episode opened in Walter’s lab with Gene the cow wearing an FBI “jacket” while grazing as Jasika Nicole’s Astrid complains to our Lincoln Lee about having to cross over to the other universe to help investigate a vigilante with a connection to the shapeshifters. Agent Lee offers to take her place on the bridge to the other side where he meets up with Fauxlivia and Captain Lee. Clearly Seth Gabel is as good as Anna Torv at playing dopplegangers: Captain Lee is so macho and Agent Lee is borderline dweeb.

From there we go to the top of a parkade at night where the vigilante shapeshifter is killing a criminal in the act. When Fauxlivia, Captain Lee and Agent Lee show up at the crime scene, filmed on February 13th, @MartiniHoudini had a window seat on the action on the Bentall Parkade and Seth Gabel as our Lincoln Lee, an alt-Lincoln Lee double and Anna Torv as Fauxlivia below.

Some of the funniest moments took place on this parkade like Fauxlivia weedling Agent Lee’s middle name out of him and then pranking Captain Lee with a “What’s up Tyrone?” Followed by a superhero debate: “What’s a Batman?” asks Fauxlivia, explaining their superhero is Mantis. “Seriously? Your superhero is an insect?” says our Lincoln Lee. “Because nothing says badass like a flying rat!” retorts Fauxlivia.

And then we’re at a Fringe Division Quarantine Zone at  St. James’ Anglican Church in the Downtown Eastside, where Containment Unit workers are reopening an amber area. Fringe crew turned almost an entire block of Gore Avenue into this quarantine zone on February 9th with DO NOT ENTER signs posted on the entrance doors to the church and FRINGE SITE – DO NOT CROSS red tape stretched across the corner of Gore & East Cordova. The red tape also kept spectators off set — although it’s amazing how close half-a-dozen fans were allowed to stand to watch the steadi-cam crew filming Anna Torv and Seth Gabel. And hidden in among all this set decoration, fans spied a Fringe Division Renewal poster, widely thought to be a subtle plea for a fifth season renewal. Well played Fringe. Well played. I photographed Seth Gabel and Anna Torv having fun in the rain ahead of filming a scene of them entering the church.
I didn’t catch Seth Gabel in character as Captain Lee at this set; only a Captain Lee photo double. But I saw quite a bit of Agent Lee looking dweeby.
A month later on March 15th, Fringe filmed a pickup scene on Gore Avenue recreating much of the Quarantine Zone and then moved to Oppenheimer Park to film the soccer scene with some Fringe fans from France and  NYC prop cabs in the background.
Much of the action shifted to the Terminal City Ironworks complex in east Vancouver, which you should recognize from the season four premiere. The two Lincoln Lees get into it about how their paths diverged until Fauxlivia quips, “Get off the line Girls”. They do have a vigilante shapeshifter to chase down and then interrogate.

Matt Davis Has Wrapped Filming TV Pilot CULT in Vancouver

Matt Davis took time out of playing history teacher/guardian Alaric on The CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries to film the pilot Cult in Vancouver in March. Even for a pilot, it was a relatively-short nine day shoot, which wrapped last Thursday night so that Davis could be back in Mystic Falls on the Atlanta set of The Vampire Diaries by Friday.

In this meta pilot, Matt Davis is a blogger named Jeff investigating the rabid fans of a cult horror TV show who have taken the series too literally. But relax, TVD fans. Even if picked up, Cult will be a short, 13-episode series, leaving room for Davis to return to Vampire Diaries. In other words, this pilot doesn’t mean the death of Alaric. Although it might.

I found Matt Davis — looking far too fine for a typical blogger — filming a scene on the pilot’s first day of shooting, March 20th, in Victory Square in downtown Vancouver.

From Victory Square in the morning, Cult moved production that afternoon into an empty heritage bank building with a glorious stained-glass ceiling on Pender Street, the same building that Supernatural turned into a vampire nest.

After this downtown sighting, Matt Davis fans looked for him on location but couldn’t find him. Some had better luck tracking him out and about enjoying Vancouver, which he tweeted about falling in love with –“Dear Vancouver, In spite of your rain, I think I may love you…. The only thing missing here is my Vampire Diaries family.” He then demanded that The Vampire Diaries return to the city where it shot its pilot — “#ByThePowerOfGreySkull!!!!!! I command the CW to move TVD back to Vancouver!!!!” And later Davis reunited with David Anders and Sara Canning here (Anders was in town guest-starring on Once Upon a Time and Canning is the lead of a new series Primeval: New World).

I didn’t find Cult again on location until its last day of filming, March 29th, when crew shot some scenes of Matt Davis sitting at the bar and at the window of the Alibi Room in Gastown. A film notice suggested that the last scene Read More »Matt Davis Has Wrapped Filming TV Pilot CULT in Vancouver


Published February 7, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

The return of Kate Beckinsale and her cat suit powered supernatural thriller Underworld Awakening to a weekend North American box office win of $25 million+ for its late January opening but critics blasted the fourth installment of the franchise for its weak storyline. U4 box office halved for its second weekend and then halved again last weekend. I saw the film last week in 3D and enjoyed watching Beckinsale and her stunt double playing kickass-cool vampire Selene and Simon Fraser University as its unmistakable self playing nefarious bio-tech company Antigen.

Vengeance Returns is the Underworld Awakening tagline. Here is a plot synopsis with spoilers: Not long after the events of Underworld Evolution, vampire Selene and her hybrid vampire/Lycan lover Michael Corvin are captured during The Purge, a crusade by humans to rid the world of vampires and Lycans (evolved werewolfs who can shift between wolf and human form). Twelve years later, Selene is freed from cryogenic suspension in Antigen headquarters by her and Corvin’s vampire/Lycan hybrid daughter Eve — a daughter Selene never knew she had with a lover who appears to be dead. Antigen claims to be developing an antidote for the virus that creates vampires and Lycans, but is really run by Lycans who are injecting Eve’s hybrid blood into themselves to create a race of super Lycans, impervious to silver and with enhanced abilities and size.

Unfortunately Scott Speedman declined to return as Selene’s lover Michael Corvin in the fourth film so we only see him in flashbacks or as a blurred figure in Underworld Awakening. New to this Vancouver-shot movie franchise about vampires and werewolves that predates the Twilight craze is human Detective Sebastian played by Michael Ealy of The Good Wife (see photo below).

After a brief recap of the Underworld saga so far, the new film opens with scenes of a genocide of not one but two species — vampires and Lycans — that was filmed mainly downtown. For example, crew set up a security checkpoint with police/SWAT extras on Hamilton Street outside Pappas Furs for filming on May 1st last year. Read More »BIG READ: Making of UNDERWORLD AWAKENING

YVRShoots Series – ALCATRAZ Blows up Victory Square

Published January 23, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

Mega-producer J.J. Abram’s new sci-fi mystery island series Alcatraz premiered last week in back to back episodes with the final big set piece on the roof of the Dominion Building downtown. Alcatraz, which is about a secret agency dedicated to finding and catching inmates from the infamous San Francisco prison gone missing 50 years ago and reappearing today, opened to 10 million viewers and a 3.3 rating on FOX, making it the second biggest drama premiere this TV season. next to modern fairy tale series Once Upon a Time on ABC. So the two biggest new hit American dramas both film in Vancouver. Coincidence?

“302 Vanished. 3 Must Find Them” is Alcatraz’s tagline. Of the 3, petite blonde-bobbed Sarah Jones is the surprise action star : chasing a suspect who turned out to be her Alcatraz inmate grandfather in our introduction to her police detective character Rebecca Madsen in the pilot. She’s the one doing the running, the jumping and sassing her superiors with classic lines like “Thanks for being a dick about it”. Her partner Jorge Garcia as Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto has a way with a sharp wisecrack, “You’ve built the Bat Cave underneath Alcatraz” (as you’d expect from Lost’s Hurley), and her mysterious new boss Sam Neill as Emerson Hauser makes a great mean face as he looms above a drugged Rebecca with the ominous words “Welcome to Alcatraz”, but neither man is one for action.

Apart from the 3, the other person of note in this secret squad is Hauser’s equally mysterious partner Lucy Banerjee played by Parminder Nagra of ER, who is shot by the sniper convict Ernest Cobb during the filming of the second episode and then revealed to have her own past life on Alcatraz as hasn’t-aged-a-day Dr. Lucille Sengupta. I spotted the Gastown alley crime scene but haven’t seen Nagra on location yet.

I wrote about and photographed the filming of some of the first half-dozen episodes in my YVRshoots series post Read More »YVRShoots Series – ALCATRAZ Blows up Victory Square

#YVRShoots Series – Hurley’s on Alcatraz This Season

Published October 18, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Every since I took a ferry to visit the infamous Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay to hear stories of its history, stroll Broadway in the main cell house and take a turn in solitary confinement, I’ve become a bit obsessed with all things Alcatraz. So you can imagine my anticipation for mega-producer JJ Abrams’s new sci-fi mystery island series about the present-day reappearance of 302 missing 1960s inhabitants of the Rock. Alcatraz is expected to air in early 2012 on FOX in the U.S.

Blonde Sarah Jones is the San Francisco police detective Rebecca Madsen investigating the reappearance of wardens and prisoners missing for 50 years from the notorious island prison and Jorge Garcia (Lost’s loveable Hurley) is the Alcatraz expert Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto she partners with to delve into its secret history and figure out where these prisoners have been and why they’re back. During each of the first season’s thirteen episodes this unlikely duo has to catch a different infamous criminal from America’s past, one that hasn’t aged since the 1960s and is now loose on the streets of Vancouver made to look like the streets of San Francisco.

On the Friday night ahead of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, the takedown happened downtown outside the Royal Bank at Granville and West Hastings. Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia drove up in a vintage Mustang to enter a building already surrounded by “picture” San Francisco police officers and a SWAT team. Cast and crew filmed through the night until dawn broke around 6 a.m. on Saturday, or as one of the actors dubbed it — “the longest night shoot ever”.

At the beginning of this year, JJ Abrams flew up here to oversee the filming of Alcatraz’s pilot, plus a hilarious scene on his other show Fringe (what Alcatraz crew jokingly calls its “evil sister”) of Jorge Garcia getting high with John Noble’s Dr. Walter Bishop. I tried to find Alcatraz on location during Abrams’s visit but kept showing up after they’d wrapped for the day — first in Queen Elizabeth Park where they filmed a standoff in a fake cemetary and then at a house in Shaughnessy where nobody remained except crew dismantling the set.

Luckily I caught one of the pivotal scenes of the pilot when Sarah Jones’s detective character meets Jorge Garcia’s Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto at his store Doc’s Comics & Collectibles, Read More »#YVRShoots Series – Hurley’s on Alcatraz This Season

BIG READ: Cancer Dramedy 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Seth Rogen

Published September 5, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome.

Cancer dramedy 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the twenty-something cancer patient given 50/50 odds of survival and Vancouver’s own Seth Rogen as his horndog best friend, makes its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next Monday — with wide release at the end of the month. Filmed here after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, this small $8-million budget movie already has a reputation from advance screenings of charming people with laughs and then making them bawl like little children.

Seth Rogen developed and produced this buddy comedy, inspired by the true story of his comedy-writer friend Will Reiser’s extensive treatment after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer six years ago. In real life and fiction, the two pals dealt with it the only way they knew how — through humour. Yet Reiser’s script doesn’t shy away from the more gruesome aspects of cancer like hair loss, chemotherapy and prematurely facing one’s own mortality — both the movie poster and trailer feature a buzzed-about scene of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) shaving his head.

Set in Seattle, the film also features Bryce Dallas Howard (in town this weekend to see her husband Seth Gabel of Fringe) as the girlfriend who can’t deal with her boyfriend’s cancer; Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) as the therapist who grows into a relationship with her cancer patient; and Anjelica Huston as his worried mother. And if you’re looking for local actors, Matt Frewer and SGU: Stargate Universe alumni Julia Benson and Peter Kelamis are in some of the scenes.

I missed 50/50’s original five-week shoot in 2010 when the movie was called I’m with Cancer (later changed to Live With It and finally 50/50) but got to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt do reshoots of running scenes near Victory Square when he and Seth Rogen returned to the city for a day last November 1st.

The reshoots started that grey November day with Joseph Gordon-Levitt running along the seawall in Stanley Park near Lumberman’s Arch. Read More »BIG READ: Cancer Dramedy 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Seth Rogen

BIG READ: CHAOS Spies “Burn Noticed”

Published May 5, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Since I last wrote about Chaos in early February, the dramedy about rogue spies made its debut on CBS/Global on April 1st — a Friday night at the tail end of the March break — to a small audience. What were CBS programmers thinking? It seemed inevitable that three episodes later, CBS would put the show on hiatus until the summer. The only surprising thing is that CBS and the studio allowed Chaos to finish filming its season here, wrapping a five-month shoot this past Tuesday.

CBS should take note that Chaos would be a smash hit if Vancouver fans had anything to do with it, judging by all the local tweets and fan photos of the “Right Bastards”, as the four lead actors – Freddy Rodriguez, Eric Close, James Murray and Tim Blake Nelson — call themselves. One fan arrived at a big shoot in Victory Square in early March wearing an “I Heart Eric Close” t-shirt and charmed Close into posing for a photo with her taken by her boyfriend. Close fans also got signed pages of that day’s script. Tim Blake Nelson signed a fan’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? CD (Blake Nelson did his own singing in the film). And later, the Chaos quartet posed together for yet another fan’s camera.

Chaos crew is good at taking parts of Vancouver and making them looking like almost anywhere else in the world, with the marked exception of the desert scenes of the California-filmed pilot. The Victory Square shoot seemed to be set in a fictional Soviet Union offshoot Rukovia and boasted an American embassy at Arch alley, a light armoured vehicle and Russian-type soldier extras with AK-47s on Cambie, as well as dozens of protester extras in the square itself. Other local areas have passed as Amsterdam, Paris, Turkey, the North Korea/China border and Hong Kong, using creative set dressing and CGI.

Two weeks later in mid-March, I found Freddy Rodriguez on location in “Hong Kong” outside a Chinatown market taking photos of himself outside and then of the four of them together inside with his iPhone in between scenes. He started tweeting these set photos on his Twitter account @FreddyRdriguez as part of CBS’s social media campaign for the show. Eric Close opened a Twitter account @EricRClose, as did James Murray under his character’s name @Op_Billy Collins. CBS even brought a Chaos spy-themed mobile social game to hipster, nerd and tri-Mohawk haven SXSW (South by Southwest, the annual music, film and interactive festival held in Austin, Texas), along with Freddy Rodriguez, Tim Blake Nelson and their executive producer Brett Ratner.

Chaos returned to Victory Square on March 21st to film a chase scene in Arch alley Read More »BIG READ: CHAOS Spies “Burn Noticed”