BC’s Top 5 Filming Locations
Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch watching one of your favorite TV shows or films and suddenly one of the scenes seem very familiar to you and you think to yourself “I know that place” or “I’ve been there before”? Well, chances are if you live anywhere in the lower mainland you probably have visited at least one of those locations you are seeing on the screen.
British Columbia is the 3rd largest film and television producer in the world, with Los Angeles and New York taking the top two spots raking in almost 1 billion in annual income for the province. Not only does BC have some of the most amazing weather for production we also have incredible locations used for everyday filming such as historic buildings and landmarks, breathtaking parks and lush forests, as well as a notable downtown urban area such as Gastown and Chinatown. But, have you ever wondered where exactly are these places are located? Well, I’m about to let you in on a few of the most used filming locations used in the Vancouver area, well the Top 5 anyway. In addition to listing my top 5 I also will be giving you a brief history of the location as well as a couple of examples of the productions that were filmed there.
This locale, in my opinion, is probably the most used location in all of BC and Canada. Once a fully operational mental health facility is now closed and used only for film productions. It was opened in 1913 and had four separate units on the property. The first to open was West Lawn and was used to house and treat the seriously ill male patients until its closing in 1983, and has since been classified as condemned due the buildings extreme deterioration and overwhelming volume of asbestos. Production has been prohibited from filing in this location. The Acute Psychopathic Unit or Centre Lawn was opened in 1924. Then in 1930 the Female Chronic Unit, now know as East Lawn, was opened and is the second most used building for filming on the property, it was closed in 2005 and is currently only being used for filming. Next to open is notably the most famous building on the property, Crease Clinic or The Veterans Unit where they used to house the criminally insane. It was opened in 1934 but due to deterioration and budget cuts the building closed in 1992. Crease became popular because of the spooky and eerie feeling the building gives to productions while filming. Some accounts from people who have either visited or worked on the property claim to have seen ghosts and heard strange noises leading to reports that the building is haunted, but to this day all claims have gone unproved. The last to open was North Lawn or The Tuberculosis Unit in 1955 and was fully operational until its closure in 2007. Some productions filmed here are; Supernatural, Dark Angel, Stargate Atlantis, The X-Files, Watchman and Case 39. Fun fact: the apartment set that was built for Will Farrell’s 2004 film “Elf” is located on the 3rd floor of Crease and is still used in productions today.
Better know to Vancouverites as UBC this location has broken into the 2nd spot as most used property on my list. Established in 1908 it is ranked 2nd in Canada and 37th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Although the property has a large amount of buildings there are a couple that are used more often than others, some of the buildings include the Chemistry Building, Thunderbird Stadium, Museum of Anthropology and the Rose Garden Parkade which is used mostly for crew parking when on location in the university. A couple shows shot here have been The 4400, Supernatural, Kingdom Hospital, Tooth Fairy, and Fantastic Four.
Better known to the film crews as VAG, the Vancouver Art Gallery was established in 1931 and was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980. This location is used mainly as a formal or higher society type of setting. The art and amazing architecture give films a more regal feeling. Filming here is extremely expensive and a very sensitive location due to its contents. Night at the Museum, The X-Files and X-Men have all used this building as backdrops in their films.
This location is better known as The PNE and is used mostly as a fun, friendly carnival type of setting. Producers are drawn to this site because of its year-round availability of the grounds and extensive amount of rides and attractions that the park has to offer its productions. The park was operational from 1910-1941 but then closed from 1942 to 1946 when it was being used as a military training facility. It was then re-opened to the public in 1947 and continues to be the number one family hot spot during Vancouver summers. The most recognizable films to be shot here were Final Destination 3 and Cats and Dogs 2: Revenge of Kitty Galore. Fun Fact: The devil sculpture used in the beginning of the film FD3 is still used by the park today as part of Playland’s Fright Nights attraction.
The stadium opened in 1983 and has hosted some of Canada’s biggest events such as the 2011 Grey Cup Finals and the most remembered event The 2010 Winter Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies. It was opened mainly as preparations for 1986’s World’s Fair (Expo ’86). Most notable feature of the stadium was its inflated roof but was deflated in 2007 due to damages and replaced with a new retractable roof. Some productions to shoot here pre-roof replacement were The 6th Day, Smallville, Fantastic Four and TV’s MacGyver.
So, there you have it, my Top 5 but I’m sure there are plenty more that could be added to this list. So the next time you’re watching one of your favorite shows and you notice a familiar location, Google it, learn more about the location and if you’re feeling adventurous go check it out in person. I’ve found that the owners or caretakers of the properties have some unique and interesting stories to tell.
What are some of the Vancouver locations you’ve noticed in film or television and what show or film were they in? Tell us is a comment below, join the conversation on our Facebook Page or follow us on Twitter. Be sure to follow @JacquelynERoth while you’re at it as well.