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BIG READ: SUPERNATURAL’s Jared and Jensen Let Loose on Lonsdale

Published February 10, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Supernatural`s vociferous fan base is both a blessing and a curse. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki share a bodyguard named Clif who helps keep the fans at bay and block photographers` shots of the actors (recently Clif took to wearing a panda toque which is now featuring in many photos). And when filming at urban locales, producers often structure scenes so that only one lead is visible at a time (in very short exterior scenes) and even then, is often standing with his back to the fans and their cameras.

So I was surprised this week to be tipped that “Jensen and Jared” would be filming many outdoor scenes for episode 6.18 near lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver. And it turned out to be true. Some fans standing near the pair`s parked “star car” on West 1st Street even snagged photos of themselves with Jensen Ackles. Both actors remained on the open street during takes and seemed remarkably loose on location: entertaining the crew with stories, perhaps of their much talked-about Superbowl party with their TV father Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the Red Card Sports Bar last Sunday.

If you’ve watched any of the series’ six seasons then you`ll know that most Supernatural scenes take place at night with a spooky fog swirling about. The first night shoot I photographed last September proved to be classic Supernatural: from half a block away through dense smoke on Hamilton Street I captured Padalecki’s Sam pretending to chop off a vampire’s head with a huge knife in several extremely grainy photos. Crew had transformed an old bank building nearby into a Vampire Nest Read More »BIG READ: SUPERNATURAL’s Jared and Jensen Let Loose on Lonsdale

BIG READ: CHAOS Survives the Vancouver Rainocalypse

Published February 3, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Another spy series began filming in Vancouver in December just as almost every other production took its annual holiday hiatus. First sighted in and around the Vancouver Rowing Club — with a big American flag flying on it — at mid-month, Chaos is a comic look at a group of rogue CIA spies in the so-called Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services. Producers took advantage of a less congested downtown later that month to film in Gastown two days before Christmas Eve and in the Vancouver Club (with a Russian beater parked outside) the day before New Year’s Eve.

This CBS TV series, set to premiere on April 1st, stars Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under and Ugly Betty), as unwitting department mole Rick Martinez; Eric Close (Without a Trace) as paranoid tactician Michael Dorset; Tim Blake Nelson (who really sang on O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as “human weapon” Casey Malick; and James Murray (Primeval) as ex-British Secret Services agent Billy Collins. I photographed three of the spy foursome walking through Shaughnessy at a location shoot last week in and around Hycroft, the University Women’s Club of Vancouver dressed as the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

I even got confused for a moment by a brilliant piece of set dressing at the gate, Read More »BIG READ: CHAOS Survives the Vancouver Rainocalypse

BIG READ: Big Stunt Falls and Jumps

Published January 27, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

I am known for getting more excited at the prospect of seeing film or TV location stunts than celebrity actors, although occasionally a celebrity actor will do his or her own stunts and that’s fun to watch.

It’s usually the big-budget movies which stage the most spectacular stunt falls and jumps. For example, the supernatural-horror film Final Destination 5 (FD5)’s opening scene is of people cheating death when one gets a premonition of the collapse of Vancouver’s iconic Lions Gate Bridge, which takes the vehicles and people on it with it. To create the scene, FD5 closed the actual bridge for filming from 2 a.m. to mid-morning one weekend. And crew built two Lions Gate bridge sets: the one on a mountain side in Lions Bay big enough for cars and buses to drive on and the one near East 1st Avenue and Boundary Road just a bridge segment placed on top of three shipping containers. I missed seeing people and a car falling off the bridge segment but captured this stunt woman falling off the much higher greenscreen Lions Gate Bridge at that set in early November 2010.

A few weeks before, rom-com/action hybrid This Means War (TMW) closed the area behind the Burrard Skytrain Station at night to film some spectacular parachute jumps. On the first night, David Clem Major based jumped with a black parachute off the roof of the Bentall 4 tower onto a closed-off Dunsmuir below dressed as Shanghai. Several local photographers captured his feat from the Cactus Club Cafe at Bentall 5. The following night, Clem Major and his black parachute were dropped several times from a multi-story crane to land on Dunsmuir. And TMW crew told me Clem Major even did a dead drop (no parachute) off Bentall 4 in the middle of the night when there was less risk of spectators stumbling onto the site.

I anticipated even bigger stunts from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal this winter but so far all the Vancouver towers have been quiet. Read More »BIG READ: Big Stunt Falls and Jumps

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

BIG READ: Tom Cruise Shooting for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL

Published January 13, 2011 on VancouverisAwesome.com

I had heard that Tom Cruise does his own stunts and is absolutely fearless with fans but discounted both claims until last Friday night when Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (MI-4) turned the street outside the Vancouver Convention Centre into wedding procession traffic in Bangalore, India. Cruise ran very quickly through the vehicles and 350 Indian extras in take after take, at one point leaping over a car several times. And after midnight he walked straight into a scrum of fans watching the filming.

MI-4 rolled into Vancouver back at the beginning of December but Cruise proved elusive, spending most of his time filming in studio at Canada Motion Picture Park in Burnaby. Some wondered if MI-4 would do any big exterior shoots downtown. Then on Dec 16, an ad appeared in The Vancouver Sun calling for movie extras for Aries (MI-4’s working title) to depict a city in India in January.

On the first Monday of the new year, Cruise and co-star Simon Pegg (Star Trek) filmed a small scene under the Burrard Bridge. And that same day, MI-4 crew started prepping the VCC to look like Bangalore: attaching leaves to bare trees, unloading palm trees and affixing Indian signs & banners to the exterior. Buzz grew over the five days of prep that Cruise himself would be at the shoot, scheduled for the end of the week. (Simon Pegg was not in the India scenes, spending the day snow boarding at Grouse Mountain).

By 4 p.m. Friday, everything was in place from tuk tuks to saris for the star to do his own running stunt as spectators gathered in the bitter cold. Cruise took a detour to say hello on arrival. jogging on the spot to keep warm while some girls screamed in delight.

 

What amazed me was Cruise’s speed or as @jdcasa tweeted on #MI4: “He’s pretty spry for an old guy”.  Read More »BIG READ: Tom Cruise Shooting for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL