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VanCon 2013: Unofficial Location Tours

As I mentioned in my Friday Report, I had the privilege of going on an unofficial location walking-tour with John Marcynuk (Production Designer). He took us a LOT of places and told us a lot of things. It was all very interesting, though I wasn't taking notes, so now it's hard to remember. I took pictures of SOME of the places though - so I will share those.

Also, on Monday I went around the greater Vancouver area with raloria and metallidean_grl on our own little locations tour. So, I'm including those pictures in this post as well.

John's tour covered Chinatown and Gastown from the train station to close to Granville St. I'm not going to record where each and every building/location is, but if you want to know, just drop me a note and I'll find it on google maps and tell you.

First up, we have the hotel from S8's Freaks and Geeks. Down the block and next door to each other are also the places they used to fill in for the hospital and the police station.

Next we have Lucifer's apartment in S5's Swan Song. Originally, they wanted to use a taller building two blocks over, but it's on Hastings and Hastings is too busy a street. During the tour, John talked a lot about SPN's need for run down buildings, and how the gentrification of Vancouver is constantly changing the landscape on them... I mean, the problem with run down buildings is that they are eventually torn down and replaced with nicer things.

Into Gastown now - I took a picture of this building because it housed Dean Smith in S5's It's a Terrible Life. I always wondered where his apartment was, because he had a nice view of the Vancouver harbour. Well, apparently it's one of the penthouses on this place... you can't even really see them in this picture, because there the things build on the roof.

I'm not actually sure which episode they used the Rainer Hotel in - but they've used it. They like hotels with neon signs (as I'm sure you've noticed.) Many years ago, there was a trend in Vancouver to get rid of the hotel neon signs, but thankfully a few businesses ended up keeping there's as kind of heritage-y things.

The Blarney Stone bar in Gastown is a nice place. It was used in S7's Defending Your Life, as the place where Dean is drinking right before he's kidnapped by Osiris. I thought it was used in 6x01, but apparently that was another bar a few blocks over (I didn't get a picture of it, unfortunately, and now I forget the name.) Anyway, Gastown bars, man, they all look the same.

Blood Alley is a popular filming spot because it's all cobble stone and wrought iron and brick. It fills in for New Orleans, apparently. You may remember it from that scene in S7 where Bobby is possessing the maid and reaches into a pick-up truck to try to pick up a tire-iron.

The group heading down the alley that housed the door to the Men of Letters meeting hall in the 1950s, and then a comic book shop in 2013 (or 2015 whichever you prefer). John told us that if you look closely, all the comics in the comic shop are DC, because WB doesn't own the rights to Marvel stuff.

This is the alley that the boys said goodbye to John in way back in S1's Shadow.

As the sun sets, we find Meg's apartment from Shadow.

This parking lot and building were in two S6 episodes (at least). This is where Sam and Dean had their conversation at the end of Live Free of Twi-Hard (wherein Dean asks Sam if he's got Dean's back, and Sam, unconvincingly, assures him he does.) And then in 6x22 when Sam is trapped in his own head, he imagines staying in this hotel. Right next to it, it the entrance to the Vampires lair from Live Free or Twi-Hard too, but I didn't get a picture of that.

I wouldn't want to jump off this building - but that's what the dude did in S8's Hunteri Heroici. They actually built a green screen platform for him to step out onto... so yeah, the actor was actually up there, stepping off a roof onto a platform. I don't think I'd want to do that either.
ETA: I also forgot that the bottom floor was the exterior that they used for the bank in the same episode - with the alley there being the one where Dean found the hole in the wall. The interior of the bank was another location that we walked by (the same one as the vampire lair in Live Free or Twi-Hard). Trivia facts: The railings in the vampire lair are not used in the Men of Letter's bunker set. The owners of that interior location are no longer on good terms with SPN and they probably won't be filming there again.

And those are the best pictures I got from John's little tour.

Next up is Monday, when raloria and metallidean_grl and I did out own tour of locations...

First up, I took them back to the Men of Letters' bunker entrance, because they hadn't seen it yet. When I had been there on Thursday, it had completely escaped my notice that this was also the location where Henry Winchester had thrown up at the side of the road and told Sam and Dean that Abaddon was a demon from hell. :P

Once again, the bunker under the bridge.

Yours truly... with my eyes closed, because I'm a werewolf (oh wait, wrong show.)

Next up, we went down to the Department of Defense lands. Colloquially in the Supernatural world, this place is known as the "back 40", but I know it as the DoD lands, but it's actually called "North 40 Park Reserve". Anyway, back in the day it used to be a wireless station for the signal corps.

Now, of course, all the houses are gone and nature is slowly taking back the roads and foundations... so it ends up being both a cool place to walk your dogs and also a cool place to film.

This is the road Dean walked down in 8x01 when he got back from Purgatory and was making his way to Benny's grave.

Through here is where the Roadhouse used to be.

Here's us, taking pictures of buildings that aren't there - just another day in the life of a SPN fangirl. :P

Along here somewhere is where Sam and Dean were walking in S2's Everybody Loves a Clown.

I think it was at this point that they stopped and had their argument about Dean's feelings.

This is where the gas station was that Dean found in S4's Lazarus Rising after he returned from hell. His grave is also not far away, but it's hard to pin down it's location since they digitally removed all the trees from the show when he climbs out of the ground.

Speaking of S4's Lazarus Rising - this is the road Dean walks down to get to the gas station.

Here's metallidean_grl playing the part of Dean in Lazarus Rising.

This spot was most recently used for the gumbo shack that Benny worked in S8's Citizen Fang.

Kim Manner's tree and the spot that they built Rufus' cabin.

Me and Kim Manner's tree. I think it's a testament to how tired I was after the weekend that I can't seem to keep my eyes open for photographs.

Back to the gumbo shack - right in front of it is the crossroads that they use for the crossroads. If you look closely, you can still see the devil's trap from the end of S8 and (perhaps more famously) the Harlem Shake video. (If you are having trouble seeing it - its center is the patch of grass, and I'm standing at the base of the pentagram.)

Somewhere around here was Benny's camp from Citizen Fang, but we couldn't pinpoint it exactly. It was in a little oak grove like this one though.

Next up, we went not far from the studio (where we confirmed that they were filming indoors that day) to the Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park...

A jogger met his end here back in S3. I think it was Time is On My Side.

Our big find here though was the graveyard from S2's What Is And What Should Never Be. This is where Dean gives his emotional speech over John's grave in the Djinn'verse. We pinpointed the exact location using the tree shapes and positions in a screen cap and then compensating for 6 years of tree growth in a temperate rainforest (that's a lot of growth!)

Just a little way down the path is this picnic bench, where Soulless!Sam broke Dean's little heart in S6's All Dogs Go To Heaven, when he told Dean that he didn't care about him.

I joked that I should do an album of all the places where Sam has broken Dean's little heart. We agreed that it would only make the Sam!girls mad at me and I'd have to do an album of all the places Dean has broken Sam's heart too. And that's when it occurred to me that Sam tends to break Dean's heart when they're on location, but Dean mostly breaks Sam's heart when they're filming in studio... odd that.

After that, we checked out the picnic bench where the heart-dude met his end in 8x08 Hunteri Heroici, and then we called it a day.

As I said before, if you're desperate to know where EXACTLY any of this stuff is, just let me know, and in my spare time I'll track down the coordinates for you.

Still to come: VFX(non)Con write-up.



( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)
Huh, I was wondering where they filmed the outside of the Men of Letters bunker... that's cool. Didn't know that little road/path was there - never tried walking under the bridge on the Vancouver side. :) I'll have to scope it out someday. I'm trying to picture in my mind how to access it... is it pretty easy, coming from say the PNE or the cafe?

And that's awesome that the demon trap is still there! If it wasn't all the way out in Ladner it'd be cool to check it out. Great pic, anyway. :)
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:06 am (UTC)
It's kind of weird to get to it, actually. Easiest way I've found is to take Hastings to Skeena and then follow Skeena down through a tunnel, then park around the corner on the other side. Every other way is confusing (at least when you look at a map.)

Yeah, there's a reason I'd never been down to the DoD land before - it's so far away, and unless you go at the absolute perfect time, you're going to run into traffic at some point.
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
*checks Google maps* Hmm, will have to explore sometime before the summer is completely gone. Is it a long walk down Skeena from Hastings? Doesn't look super far - I imagine I could walk there from the cafe pretty easily. Curious about the parks I see down there on Google Maps... never walked down there.
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
Yeah, I mean, if you're walking you could always approach from the other side too - but probably even walking the shortest way from the cafe is to do Hastings-Skeena. I'd say it's probably about a 15min walk down Skeena? That's a guesstimate. I obviously did it in a car. But yeah, definitely walkable from the cafe, if you have the time.
Aug. 30th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
You just picked the exact two I am interested in seeing! We should do that sometime soon. Next weekend? ;)
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:05 am (UTC)
It's cool to be able to look at that last set and see how many different episodes were filmed in the same general area. I like the ghostly devil's trap. I think the Rainier Hotel was also from Defending Your Life. Thanks for posting these. All your write-ups have been great.
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's pretty neat to go to these locations and see just how much they use them. You basically walk ten feet and you're in a different episode. :P

John was saying that they like to film parts of episodes as close together as possible too - to save time when filming an episode. So they'll try to look for locations close to each other so they can just do a "cart push" to get to the next scene.
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
This was awesome.

And, as a Sam!girl, I would love to see a post dedicated to locations of brother heart-breaks (from both POV's) should you ever want to do it.
Aug. 30th, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

And I'll keep that in mind should I need another project. I'm bi-bro, so I'd HAVE to do both POV's just to satisfy myself. ;)
Aug. 30th, 2013 08:49 am (UTC)
Woah!!! That´s more than amazing... It´s a dream. :)
I hope to join a location tour in the future, too. ;)
My fav is the MOL bunker. :)
Aug. 30th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
The MOL bunker is easy to get to, even if you aren't on a tour - that's a nice thing about it. :)

I'm glad you enjoyed the post!
Aug. 30th, 2013 10:42 am (UTC)
I loved this! Thank you so much. Locations are my favorite things. It's always amazing what the crew does to create the location for us. This is such a unique part of our show compared to shows like Big Bang Theory that have studio sets that rarely change. I never realized they built Rufus' cabin in the "40" either. Thanks for the tour.

I love that the MoL bunker door is actually under a bridge! LOL.
Aug. 30th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, locations are really interesting. They always look so much bigger on camera... I don't know how they do it. But yeah, I love how SPN uses locations rather than sets so much - I think it makes the show more visually interesting to watch.

And yeah, the powerplant above the MoL bunker is all green screen. Some people on the crew think that they should have just written it so that it was under a bridge - but then, it's supposed to be in Kansas, and I doubt they have bridges that huge. :P
Aug. 30th, 2013 11:04 am (UTC)
This is awesome! Thanks!
Aug. 30th, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks! You're welcome. :)
Aug. 30th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing all the great pics!
Aug. 30th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I'm glad you liked them. :)
Aug. 31st, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)
You guys are awesome for figuring this all out (We pinpointed the exact location using the tree shapes and positions in a screen cap and then compensating for 6 years of tree growth in a temperate rainforest...LOL) and for sharing it with the reat of us. Just so cool!
Aug. 31st, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)

Thanks, I was quite proud of us for that one. :)
Aug. 31st, 2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
This is so cool. I must get myself back to Vancouver and beg you to take me around. You are the best for sharing this with us.
Aug. 31st, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
You are welcome anytime! :)
Oct. 29th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
So cool that you were able to go on that city walking tour. There are so many locations to see in that area. I would love to spend a couple days just walking around that part of the city and going to all those locations. I spent a couple hours in 2011 with Bettina. We saw some good ones. I hope to do that this next year. We'll see. My roomie can't walk very well, so if she hasn't lost any weight between now and then we won't be able to do that on the Thursday before the Con, which is when I want to do it. And Val with her Mom all the time, that eliminates doing it on the Mon or Tues. I might have to cut the strings one year and do that on the Mon or Tues some year, if I can't get to it on Thursday. Of course, all this hinges on having someone to do the walking tour with. You guys saw some great locations.

We had a great day that Monday, didn't we? You took a picture of the place we were thinking of for Benny's camp. I wish I would have taken some pictures as well. The more I think about it, the more I think that that was the actual location. I mean, that really was THE best option out of everything we saw. I don't anything else would have been feasible, except for that place. Too bad we didn't have more screencaps with us to compare a little more.

My greatest thrill was finally finding the place from 2x20 where Dean talks to his father's grave. I have been wanting to find that now for a couple years. We couldn't pinpoint it last year. We were in a different place in the park. So glad we found that one. Successful day all in all.
Oct. 29th, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the city walking tour was fun. It did make me not be able to eat much though, and it was a LOT of walking (and quickly too)... I was pretty stiff the next day!

If you do manage to go on a walking tour, it's better if you have a little group with you or go during the day, especially if you are walking around the downtown eastside. It's not the best neighbourhood.

We did have a great day on Monday! It was a lot of fun and I was thrilled to finally get to see the DoD lands. I really do think that that must have been Benny's camp - there just wasn't any other option for it. I guess with forest locations, it's good to know ahead of time what you want to find and then just print out as many screen camps as humanly possible - because it's so hard to find the location when all you have to go off of is tree shapes.

I was really thilled that we were able to find the 2x20 location too! I think that was a real joint effort, what with using Val's caps, me pointing out the visible path, and the shape of the trees by the river, and then I believe it was you who actually recognized the spot once we got to it. Go team!
Oct. 29th, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
I would definitely do a city tour during the day, and would for sure want at least one other person with me. But it is so hard to find someone who is interested in doing a walking tour. A year ago, Bettina and I started at the hotel and then just went west from there. We probably walked 10-20 blocks West and towards the water. It was fun. Bettina is coming back next year, I'll have to see if she would be interested in picking that tour up again on the Thursday.

The DoD lands are fun. So many places to see. I really want to get a complete list of all the scenes that have been done there and try to figure out where everything was done. With the changes in tree growth, that might be kinda hard, but with some digging, asking around and screen caps, we might be able to figure things out.

It really was a huge group effort figuring out the 2x20 location wasn't it? I think finding that one was the most fun because of the way we figured it out. It really was cool.
Craig Phillips
Sep. 29th, 2018 01:59 pm (UTC)
Not “back 40”
It’s “north 40”, not “back 40” and it actually is the name of the park generally used by the municipality, the city of Delta
Sep. 29th, 2018 06:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Not “back 40”
Thanks! I've only ever heard cast and crew call it the "back 40" which is why I put that name in.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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