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Stephen Amell is Arrow for TV pilot ARROW in Vancouver

Arrow, based on DC Comics The Green Arrow, is one hot TV pilot. And by all accounts, Stephen Amell is one hot Arrow in this more Jason Bourne-like and less Smallville-ish production. Like The Dark Knight’s re-imagined Batman, Arrow’s vigilante superhero fights crime with martial arts and technology plus the special skill of archery. “Working theory: The most expedient way to shoot a show where I’m an expert at archery is to become an expert an archery,” Amell tweeted in late February. And he must have hit the gym too. “You should see what’s under that hood……you’ve never seen ripped until you’ve seen this guy,” tweeted Arrow fight coordinator James Bamford.

None of my photographs do justice to how much Stephen Amell resembles a Jason Bourne-type action star. This is the closest I came with Amell in character as his secret identity Oliver Queen, crouched in Gastown before filming a take with Katie Cassidy as his former love Dinah “Laurel” Lance.

Pre-production set up on the same lot near a Burnaby Skytrain station that served as a Smallville permanent set for years. Filming on the Arrow pilot started on March 10th inside the Terminal City Ironworks complex in east Vancouver. The next morning, I missed an exterior scene of Oliver Queen jumping over the gate at the TCI entrance on Victoria Drive, but did spot the Oliver green arrow production sign on a walkby.

The next day, March 12th, Arrow set up at the foot of Gore Avenue in the Downtown Eastside during a wild west coast windstorm. Background performers dressed as homeless street peoople huddled around a fake fire and tried to keep their costumes intact in the wind. Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell, as his best friend and trustafarian Tommy Merlyn, were more sheltered, filming scenes inside Merlyn’s ride, a Mercedes 2012 SLS AMG ,with two wings and cockpit, as the ad says. Tents almost went airborne and Amell and Donnell looked like they were finally feeling the cold while waiting for their ride back to circus.

Read More »Stephen Amell is Arrow for TV pilot ARROW in Vancouver

NBC Pilot MIDNIGHT SUN Filmed in Squamish as Alaska

It’s not the first time Squamish has played Alaska for American TV. NBC pilot Midnight Sun, which Deadline.com says is getting some solid early buzz, spent much of last month filming in Squamish as Alaska.

This thriller about an FBI cult specialist investigating the mysterious disappearance of a group living on a commune in Squamish as Dugan, Alaska, stars Julia Stiles (the Bourne trilogy) as the cult specialist Leah Kafka, whose investigation uncovers a larger conspiracy, and Titus Welliver (Lost’s Man in Black) as cult leader Bennett Maxwell, the charistmatic and manipulative head of Midnight Sun.

I came close to seeing some of the filming of the Midnight Sun pilot, but arrived a day or two after they’d wrapped at the Squamish dock and then found them a couple more times at inaccessible locations. Luckily Michael Raymond-James, who co-stars as an Alaskan lawyer and second-in-command of the Dugan Police, is a tweeter and kept a sort-of running set diary with photos attached.

The cast did a network table read on March 8th. Then three days later, Raymond-James tweeted, “Prep is over. The hands have been shook, the drinks have been drunk. Tomorrow, we start shooting. Boom”. It looks like Midnight Sun started filming the pilot on the Squamish dock, judging from a photo which Raymond-James captioned “Look at where I go to work”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get up to Squamish until Friday, March 16th, just missing the shoot there.

As you can see from the fresh snow above, the weather wasn’t co-operating much with the production. Glacier Air at the Squamish Municipal airport tweeted on March 14th about Midnight Sun not getting the sun they wanted to film a scene with a Beech 18 plane. The attached video showed a serious snow squall in progress. On March 16th, the day I was looking for Midnight Sun at the Squamish dock, someone from the crew tweeted a photo of a green screen Beech 18 scene, announcing “Today we get to fly!”

I returned to Squamish the following Monday, March 19th, spotting Midnight Sun’s GEP Pro production signs on the drive up the Sea to Sky highway, just past Lions Bay. Midnight Sun was filming in a private gravel pit, with nothing to see except a beautiful view of Anvil Island and a couple of prop Dugan Police suburbans parked nearby.

Michael Raymond-James had settled into on-location routine by then, tweeting “In my life me Tweeties, I’ve drank with rogues [sic] and revolutionaries. And now I can also say that I’ve done laundry in Squamish, BC.” Read More »NBC Pilot MIDNIGHT SUN Filmed in Squamish as Alaska

ABC TV Pilot RED WIDOW About Russian Mob – Updated

ABC pilot Red Widow, inspired by a popular Dutch TV series, is about a San Francisco mobster’s widow forced to replace her husband as head of what appears to be a Russian crime syndicate, judging from the filming at Lana Lou’s restaurant dressed as Cafe Rossiya in Vancouver’s downtown east side last month.

Australian Radha Mitchell stars as the widow Marta who takes her mobster husband’s place to protect her family, with Sterling Beaumon and Jacob Salvati as her sons and Erin Moriarty as her daughter. Luke Goss (Hellboy II) plays bodyguard to her mob father Andrei Lazarev, a bodyguard who is then assigned to look after her and the kids. Lee Tergesen (Oz) plays a foot soldier in the crime syndicate and Suleka Mathew (Hawthorne) is Marta’s best friend Dina, while Jaime Ray Newman is Marta’s younger sister Kat.

Read More »ABC TV Pilot RED WIDOW About Russian Mob – Updated

Going Numb on THE KILLING Day Sixteen

Joel Kinnaman’s conspiracy patsy Stephen Holder goes numb in epic fashion in The Killing’s third episode of the second season: scaring his nephew, beating up one of his old dealers, having sex in a car and then walking through oncoming traffic on what looks like Vancouver’s Georgia Viaduct (the red S on top of the Scotiabank tower is a giveaway).

This is where Mireillie Enos’s Sarah Linden — now back as lead detective on the Rosie Larsen murder case — finds Holder, having spent Day Sixteen of the investigation methodically backtracking what he has done or not done during her brief absence. She asks a uniformed police officer what happened to her warrant for a client list from the Beau Soleil computer servers, the on-line escort service sixteen-year-old Rosie Larsen worked for. It turns out Mark Moses’s new Lieutenant has obstructed her with red tape. While she’s waiting for the warrant, she goes to the Larsen house with a photograph of the manga tattoo from the arm of Rosie Larsen’s mysterious bicycling companion in a video. She’s confronted by a hostile Stan Larsen unwilling to look at anything until the police tell him what they’ve discovered about Rosie’s pink, bedazzled backpack dropped on his doorstep at the end of Day Fourteen.

That brings to Linden to just-retired Lieutenant Oakes’s boat moored somewhere on the Fraser River to retrieve the backpack which Holder entered into evidence. She quickly realizes that this is not Rosie Larsen’s backpack and that Holder must have made a switch, calling him to say: “I know what you did with the backpack…we need to talk..call me back.” Back at the station, she re-watches the video of Rosie Larsen on her bike for the umpteenth time. The uniformed police officer interrupts to tell her that he went to serve her Beau Soleil warrant at the shoe place but there was a fire there that morning.

Sarah Linden gets out of her car at the arsoned shoe store, filmed in Vancouver’s Chinatown early this year, saying, “Seattle PD. Were the computers damaged?” Told there were no computers, she squints around in Linden fashion, spying some security cameras on the street.

This was the first time I’d seen Mireille Enos filming on location for season two. She is so different from her character, quick with a smile and happy in her life, as you can see below in my photograph of her and a crew member.

The next scene in Numb is of Brent Sexton’s Stan Larsen picking up his two boys at school, only to discover that shady crime figure and Larsen’s former boss Janek Kovarsky has been by to visit them. I photographed Brent Sexton in character as Stan Larsen filming this scene at Vancouver’s Lord Strathcona Read More »Going Numb on THE KILLING Day Sixteen

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.

BIG READ: Darker Season 2 of FALLING SKIES Filmed in Vancouver

Published April 5, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome

The second season of sci-fi summer hit Falling Skies takes place three months after Noah Wyle‘s father of three boys boarded an alien spacecraft in a bid to protect his middle son. It’s said to be an even darker look at the trials and tribulations of a small band of insurgents fighting against an occupying alien force which has killed most of the world’s adults and captured their children. So it’s appropriate they filmed it in Vancouver over the fall and winter durng our Rainocalypse, instead of in the Toronto area over the summer and fall in the mainly sunny weather of season one.

Noah Wyle (from ER) is former History professor Tom Mason, the civilian second-in-command of a Boston insurgent group named after the 2nd Massachusetts of the American Revolution and made up of about 300 fighters and civilians. Mason, whose wife was killed in the initial attack, has three sons —  Hal, played by Drew Roy, and Ben and Matt, played by  Connor Jessup and Maxim Knight.  Middle son Ben has been captured by the insectoid multi-legged aliens known as Skitters and harnessed. These harnesses are attached to the children’s spines and act as some kind of biomechancial device that allows the aliens to control their minds. Much of the first season is spent trying to get Ben back and to figure out how to remove his harness without killing him. But even when they do get the harness off Ben, it’s clear he’s not free from alien mind control. And that’s why his father boards the alien spaceship in the season one finale to find a way to protect Ben and stop the harnessing of kids.

This is the family show in a post-apocalyptic setting that legendary director Steven Spielberg had envisioned. Other key civilians are Moon Bloodgood as pediatrician Anne Glass and Seychelle Gabrielle as Lourdes, who’ve formed a makeshift medical clinic for the group. Will Patton is Captain Dan Weaver, the military leader of the 2nd Mass and Mpho Koaho as Thomas (a former Boston cop) and Peter Shinkoda as Dai are two of its best fighters. Jesse Schram is Karen Nadler, who starts off as Ben’s girlfriend and fellow scout until she is captured and harnessed. Sarah Carter‘s Maggie takes her place on the frontlines of 2nd Mass and maybe as Ben’s girlfriend too in the upcoming season.

Maggie happens to be the survivor of a gang of marauders headed up by Colin Cunningham’s charismatic and wickedly funny John Pope, an ex-con who causes mayhem wherever he goes, nicknaming Tom Mason, “Papa Smurf”; Karen, “Sexy Freedom Fighter”; Hal. “Strapping Young Man”; Anthony, “Black….Looks Like a Gangbanger”; and Dai, “Oriental of Some Kind” when they’re briefly in his custody early on. No one has better lines than Pope in this series, like his protest, “What am I? Canada”, when his 2nd Mass captors insist he go unarmed on a sortee. Here is Cunningham in character as John Pope on set in Vancouver.

At the Falling Skies panel at the Emerald City ComicCon last Friday in Seattle, new showrunner Remi Aubuchon (an SGU Stargate Universe writer/producer) and cast Colin Cunningham (SG-1’s Major Paul Davis) and Drew Roy talked about the upcoming second season and showed a three-minute teaser The Resistance Continues.

Noah Wyle’s Tom Mason has not been seen or heard from in three months. Many of 2nd Mass have died Read More »BIG READ: Darker Season 2 of FALLING SKIES Filmed in Vancouver