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VanCon2011: Monday Location Tour

NOTE: THERE WILL BE LOCATIONS MENTIONED FROM UPCOMING EPISODES AS WELL AS, IN ONE INSTANCE, AN EVENT THAT HAPPENS IN AN UPCOMING EPISODE, though I've put that bit under spoiler text.)


I sat towards the middle of the bus, and I'm really glad I did. Russ spends a lot of time walking up and down the bus talking to people, but he seems to favour the middle and the back - and if his back is to you, it's really hard to hear what he's saying. My friend in the front of the bus couldn't hear anything.

Now, mind you, it also helps to keep him in place by asking him a bunch of questions. I was lucky enough to be sitting across from a nice American lady (I'm guessing on the nationality here) who was very curious about a lot of things - and also quite amusing. So Russ tended to hover around my chair whenever he walked by, because she would engage him in conversation (something that I'm not very good at.)

Russ told us that he's always trying to get more of the crew to give talks at, and to just come, to the convention when it's in Vancouver. Someone suggested that they might be more comfortable if a group of them did a panel at a time, and Russ thought that was a good idea - but then worried that one of them would inevitably be sitting up there and not have any questions asked of them and then feel bad. Then he laughed, and said that actually, if it ever happened, he'd make sure that someone was left out just so that he could laugh at them. Ah, the comradery.

Russ said that the crew is always impressed with the kind of questions we ask - how we pay such close attention to detail in the show. He said he was just talking to Guy Bee about it after Guy's panel. He said that we catch things that the crew is supposed to catch, but don't...and that people will be fired after some of our questions (he was joking here), concluding "how we didn't know that a year after 2010 is 2011, I don't know."

The first place he took us was a block past Rupert on E Pender. It's a skatepark that the skaters built under an old overpass. It's going to be used for the opening of Jensen's episode (7x03). Russ said that didn't have to do anything to it - it was so nicely kept up and beautifully graffitied. They just lit it up for the cameras and that was that.



I laughed on our way down into it, because Russ called after us, "skateboarders are very territorial, so we don't want to piss them off." - It reminded me of nature documentaries - 'the grey wolf is very territorial...' The person next to me asked, "why aren't there any skateboarders in it now?" and I turned to her and said, "They're sleeping. Skateboarders are primarily nocturnal," and then laughed at my own joke.

When we got back on the bus, Russ talked about some of his favourite locations...he said he really liked them all, but he was particularly fond of Exterior-Crowley (which he would show us next) and the time they diverted 150,000 communters when they shut-down the main highway through Matsqui, BC.

Exterior-Crowley was the building they used in 6x22 for Crowley's lab. They had originally given it as an option for the vampire nest in Live Free and Twi-Hard, but they decided to keep it for something better - more iconic.



Crowley's lab is actually an old British Columbia Electric Railway station outside of Fort Langley. It's currently a live-in studio for an artist. They paid the guy around $8,000 to use it for about 6 days, while they put him up in a hotel.

In order to get the flash of light they needed for when Balthazar kicks it, they used 140,000 watts of light. Since that much wattage would melt plastic within a 5 feet radias of the lightbulbs, they had to take all the artist's work down off the walls and put it in a shed behind the house with an airconditioning unit.

There are powerlines in the shot they used - so those had to be removed in Post. I asked if they had also removed the big letters at the top that said "British Columbia Electric Railway" and Russ said, "Probably, did you see them in the episode?" and I said, "well I didn't know to look for them. I'll have to watch it again." He smiled and said "I love that."

(Note: I have watched it again - they did infact remember to remove the words).

Of course, the road looking at Crowley-Exterior is also the road where the Impala sadly flipped (hastag this: #heartbreakinglocations)


We were supposed to have lunch next, but the caterer had gotten lost - much to Russ' annoyance. We waited around for a bout 20 minutes, but if we waited any longer, it'd be too late to show us the next thing Russ wanted to show us....

So, we took off into Langely to watch a Technical Survey for 7x06 take place. They were surveying what looked like a BMO at 20550 Fraser Hwy. Russ explained that a Technical Survey is what takes place when the location has been decided upon, and they have to figure out what they need. All department heads meet up and scope out the place and the director tells them what sort of shots he wants to do, and everyone can figure out what their particular department needs to get the job done. Russ says it's the single most important meeting.

We all stood and watched as a group of about 10-15 people walked around the building, some taking measurements, some huddled off to the side in groups discussing things. Russ took as many people as he could over to say hello to us and introduce who they were and what they did. Unfortunately, I can't remember all their names.



Oh, the other thing that I thought was funny was that they all arrived in a bus together - but it wasn't just any bus. It was a bus from Final Destination 5, that apparently killed someone. It was owned and driven by a guy (named Ian, I think) who owns and drives a lot of prop-vehicles for the film industry up here. Our bus and their bus arrived at the same time - and we were all taking pictures of the crew, and the crew was all taking pictures of us.



7x06 is directed by John Showalter. It will air Nov. 14, but obviously they are just filming it next week.

One member of the crew, Harvey, has a daughter who is an actress. She was one of the little girls in Playthings...which Russ referred to as "the dollhouse episode."

Johnny MacCarthy (who I believe everyone on set refers to as Johnny Mac) is a 1st AD who will be making his directorial debut this year with 7x18.

Jim Michaels was also there - he goes on all the technical surveys. We also met Jerry Wanek, who is from the art department.

After Russ had chatted with the technical survey (Russ still works the days that he does the tours - it just makes for a very long day for him). We headed back to Crowley's place for lunch that was now waiting for us.

"We're going to get back on the schedule, we didn't have in the first place," Russ declared.

The whole time Russ had a huge binder with all the locations used for every single episode of Supernatural since day one. So, occassionally people would ask him where certain locations were. I found out that the warehouse in Changing Channels, was an old glass factory on Queensboro Island.

Russ also told us how you can film anything in Vancouver (and area) set anywhere - except New York, because they don't have brownstones - only they do now, because when Watchmen wanted to film here, they built the backlot. (this statement would soon prove to be ironic).

Russ said that productions come to Vancouver for the crews. They have really good crews in British Columbia.

While we at lunch, Russ wandered off and paced and spoke into his phone quite a bit - still trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the catering schedule earlier.

When he got back, we had this exchange:
Me: "Things are good?"
Russ: "Things are good. We're doing fine. I think we work well as a cohesive unit. I have no angst toward anyone on my crew."
Me: "That's good." *laughs*
Russ: "Didn't sound all that sincere though, did it?" *laughs*

Then we all piled back in the bus again to go see Bobby's.

And the came the portion of the day that I've already written about, but I'll repeat part here:

Russ pauses next to my seat on the bus to answer his phone, which has just rung. I smile at the ringtone.

Russ: Yes? ...It's on fire now?

And he says it in a voice where I'm not sure if he was perhaps expecting something to be on fire...but I'm not sure, so...

Me: That can't be good.

And Russ looks me dead in the eye, and mouths: THE BACKLOT IS ON FIRE.

I would have liked to have been able to see the expression on my own face, let me tell you.

Russ immediately started asking the important questions - how small it the fire, where is it, are firefighters there...

Russ told us, when he got off the phone, that there was a small Bollywood production filming there at the moment. He said that Supernatural was set to film in the diner on the lot next week - and that so far it might have escaped the fire. Michael Buble was supposed to be filming there this week for a Christmas video - so he was probably screwed. The technical survey, after it was done in Langely, was supposed to have gone there and surveyed the diner - so obviously that couldn't happen and would mess with the schedule a bit.

Supernatural invested about 0.5 million in the backlot, but it didn't belong to them. It is used by many productions. Not everyone looks after it the same way that Supernatural does - little things, like making sure doors are closed and things as protected from the rain as possible.

It's insured, but again - not by Supernatural. Russ said they (Supernatural) probably wouldn't rebuild anything that was lost - they would just find alternate locations.

What I was most impressed with was the way Russ handled the situation - he was professional and calm, and still in good humour. It was pretty amazing to watch. After seeing him react to such a crazy situation in such a professional way, I was really left with no doubt that Supernatural would be perfectly fine even with their locations possibly burning. Russ really is good at his job and a capable professional - I can certainly see why he's remained with the production since the get-go. (Russ was one of the first 3 employees in British Columbia).

As we came across the bridge into New West/Burnaby we could see the giant plume of grey smoke rising from the backlot.

Russ: "This has been the best day."

Russ' phone was running out of batteries, but understandably, people were calling him. After he got off the phone with someone else, I asked him how things were going.

Russ: "It's fine, everything is good. I'm looking forward to this all working out."

When someone commented that they were impressed with how positive he was. Russ replied. "I can fix things happy or I can fix them sad" adding that he spent far too much time at his job to choose to be anything other than happy while he was doing it.

We stopped at Bobby's scrapyard, which is actually Affordable Autoparts - not that far from the studio. It's amazing how much smaller everything looks in real life as opposed to on TV (except Jared). It's a working scrapyard specializing in BMWs and Japanese cars - they also have dogs...so we couldn't wander too far into it.



Russ explained that when they film there, they have to put their own American cars infront of the foreign ones - because Bobby specializes in American cars.
He told us that in an upcoming episode a car falls on someone...and we'll definitely want pictures once we see the episode.


Because at this point, we had been thrown greatly off schedule - Russ drove us passed the studio as an extra bonus. They were filming in the studio while we drove passed.

We then stopped at a field that they had just wrapped filming at, and the set would soon be taken down. It was a construction site for luxery condos, though the site only consisted of a backhoe, a trailer up on blocks, and a portapotty.



As we drove up to head back to the hotel to be dropped off, we passed right by the fire - which was still in the process of being extinguished. Russ said it looked like they lost a bar, the pizzeria they used for the Dean-Death meeting, and some brownstones. Thankfully, the portion that was all fake-facades was still standing and not-burning. Russ said that if that had caught fire, it would have burned down in seconds and no one would have been able to do anything. It's not built with pressure-treated fire-resistant wood - it's built with just ordinary wood.

We passed by the exterior of Bobby's house on Marine Dr., but Russ was a bit distracted and forgot to point it out...and then we drove over the Cambie bridge (as seen in the French Mistake) and arrived back at the hotel.

So, all in all, an eventful Location tour, even though we didn't actually get to too many locations. It was very interesting to see the crew in action - both on the technical survey, and also in the way Russ handled the news of the fire.

I would have liked to have seen Bordertown, or "the back 40" in Delta, or actually see the backlot (and not have it burn down), because those are actually places that I can't get to on my own...but *shrug*, I'm happy with what I did see, and with the ability to talk to Russ and see how the crew works together.

Russ says that he likes to change the tour every year, so that no one sees exactly the same thing - or goes on the same tour twice. Russ was saying we would probably be the only tour to ever see a technical survey in process - and I also think we'll be the only tour to watch the backlot burn. :P




And thus endeth my VanCon reports.

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
jenz_cdnwildone
Sep. 1st, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
AW hun u are freaking made of WIN soo bad !!
Loves the reports and the pic's thanks again for sharring with us all !! Hope your ankle is doing well, and that you have no other spills/fall over's .. Russ giving u too many drinks I suppose ? JKJK !!
Glad your safe and sound send along Helloz to Kathleen :)And too sista and her bf .. Have a good weekend.
Be good if not do it the viking way .. LMAO !

Jenz <3
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
I've added some pics now!

The ankle is ALMOST as good as normal - I've still got a bit of bruising and not quite full range of movement yet, but there's no limp. :)
khek
Sep. 1st, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
It sounds like it was quite an adventure! Someday, I'd like to get to the Vancouver convention...

You look very happy in your picture! (Of course, who wouldn't be, surrounded by all that gorgeousness?) I like your shirt! :)
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
Pictures now added :)

I WAS very happy in that picture - still am! And thank you about the shirt. It's my "going out shirt"...I wear it when I want to look nice, but also be comfortable. ;)
dairygirl
Sep. 2nd, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Very interesting report that only makes me want to see some of the photos. Also makes me impatient for my season six DVDs. The image of the crew taking pictures of the tourists as the tourists took their picture is hilarious. And the shot with both Jared and Jensen is great. You said you felt fat next to them but you look great to me. Definitely a happy smile! How did Jensen's waist feel under your hand since I can see your arm around Jared.
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Pictures now added! I'm impatient for S6 dvds too! I want to get to my clothing catalogues and rewatches and whatnot.

And thank you for saying I look great! I've actually grown to like it more and not critique myself so much. I think we all have a tendency to be overly critical of our own appearance. I still don't like my Misha one - so that'll never make it up on the internet. But I'm very happy that the two I had with Jared and Jensen worked out great. :)

Jensen's waist felt as sexy as the rest of him! He's really nice and slim, but softer than Jared (in a good way!) It was a very comfortable resting place for my hand. :)
quickreaver
Sep. 2nd, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
All kinds of awesome. Really interesting! I'd love to work in post-production, editing out lettering and street signs. Or adding demon smoke, or.....
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
I'd like to work in anything related to Supernatural ;)

Pictures now added, if you are interested!
(no subject) - quickreaver - Sep. 2nd, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
borgmama1of5
Sep. 2nd, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
I'd die of envy except you do such a great job of detailing it for the rest of us I can almost think I was there!
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
Yay! 'Twas my intent ;)
4422shini
Sep. 2nd, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Wow, what a concise and useful tour! I'm so jealous you got to go on that, it sounds like you had an absolute blast!
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
I did indeed have a blast - though I must admit I spent the latter half of it a bit worried about a certain fire... :P
cappy712
Sep. 2nd, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
Thank you again! For those of us unable to be there and experience the tours you make it fun and informative.

Appreciate the time you take to write what you experienced and observed.

hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:58 am (UTC)
Thanks! It only took me 3 days to write that all up. :P

I'm glad though that those who can't afford, or are too far away, to go to a convention, get to experience it vicariously through me. :)
galwithglasses
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:42 am (UTC)
Thanks again for taking the time to write this up. I'm really interested in all the geeky stuff that goes into creating the show. They make it look easy because of how well it usually turns out as a finished episode but they must put a huge amount of planning and prep in beforehand. There are so many details to keep track of. I'd love to see pictures you took.
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
I JUST added some pictures! So, refresh! :)

I love all the geeky stuff that goes into the show. It makes me wish I had gone into film making so that I could be a part of it. Alas!

I think that's why the crew loves the fact that we pay attention to detail - because THEY are the ones in charge of all the little details. So they like the idea that people might actually notice, rather than only be dazzled by the good-looking actors. ;)
missyjack
Sep. 2nd, 2011 07:32 am (UTC)
thank you so much for this! I would love to go on the location tour moreso even than going to the Con! Such an amazing insight into the incredible amount of work that goes into making the show. I am glad they know that many of us do actually really pay attention to and appreciate all that effort!
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
I think the location tour is definitely worth the price of the ticket...which is saying a lot coming from me, since I live in Vancouver and could technically go see locations anytime I want. What makes the tour special is how engaging and informative Russ is.

I also know that a lot of the crew that came to the convention were pretty surprised and amazed when some fans asked for their autographs as well - and not just the actors.
(no subject) - missyjack - Sep. 3rd, 2011 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Sep. 3rd, 2011 02:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - missyjack - Sep. 3rd, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Sep. 3rd, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
micaiah67
Sep. 2nd, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Oh holy crap, girl! You were sitting right in front of me on the bus and Kathleen introduced us but I didn't know who you REALLY were! Plus I was pretty freaking tired and not functioning at full speed. :) I was amazed at how calm Russ was too. He was pretty much awesome.
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
What what?!? Oh man! I didn't even know! It was nice to meet you, even though I didn't know I was meeting you!

I was pretty tired and not functioning at full speed either :P
(no subject) - micaiah67 - Sep. 4th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Sep. 4th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
raloria
Sep. 2nd, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
Very cool report! :D

Aaaahhhh!!!!! You passed by the exterior of Bobby's House?!?!
Must. Know. Where. That. Is.
It's like my Holy Grail of locations. Haven't been able to find it on my own. Where is it, please? Just get me in the ballpark (okay, Marine Drive, but in what area? By the studio?) and I'll handle the rest. ;)
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
Marine Way/Drive - North side of the street - closer to the studio than downtown...but sadly I was talking to Russ at the time and didn't see Bobby's place nor did I know exactly where we were. I could try to google-street view a few locations to see if anything rings a bell though.
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Sep. 2nd, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raloria - Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raloria - Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
cordelia_gray
Sep. 2nd, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
That sounds really cool! Not the backlot being on fire (eep!) but all the rest of it, particularly the technical survey, and Singer Salvage. Also, i t's amazing how much smaller everything looks in real life as opposed to on TV (except Jared). LOL!
hells_half_acre
Sep. 2nd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
;)

Glad you liked it! It was very cool! (except the fire. :P)

msninacat
Sep. 3rd, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
So very jealous! Maybe next year you'll get to see some of the other stuff you wanted to see. ♥ Thanks for the spoiler text too since I'm psychotic about it.
hells_half_acre
Sep. 3rd, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hopefully next year I'll be able to go again. It'll all depend on whether there are last minute tickets available.

And yeah, I don't like spoilers either, so I tried to be as considerate as possible. :P
(no subject) - msninacat - Sep. 4th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
harrigan
Sep. 3rd, 2011 11:28 am (UTC)
Fascinating! Thank yoU!
hells_half_acre
Sep. 3rd, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
(Deleted comment)
hells_half_acre
Sep. 8th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
I really recommend you check out the convention if you can afford it in some way! The one in Vancouver I think is really special, because we also get the crew hanging around - even if not all of them give talks, they still come and sit in the audience (especially on Sunday).

I sadly don't have money to buy a ticket early for next year - but hopefully by the time the event is actually here, I can grab a last minute ticket from someone. :)
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

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