As per usual, on Monday, raloria and I traveled around a few popular Supernatural filming locations. Despite living in Vancouver, I'd never been out to Riverview - which is a partially abandoned mental health hospital campus in Coquitlam. And I do mean CAMPUS. I hadn't actually realized how big it was. When people said "oh, that's filmed at Riverview", I just thought it was maybe one or two buildings - but nope! It's a huge place, with several meandering (and confusing) streets, and many many different types of buildings.
First up, was West Lawn Building - which they used for Crowley's lair in S11 (and retconned previous seasons, when we thought he was actually in Hell), and as the abandoned asylum in 11x23 where they kill all the ghosts. They've used it in previous seasons too - when it was looking not QUITE as bad.
Then there's the Centre Lawn Building, which I was sure was the one they used in Bloody Mary, but we discovered that wasn't true, so who the heck knows?!?!
Then there's East Lawn Building, where Bobby died in S7, and they've used as many other hospital entrances as well (such as in Safe House, last season.)
Around the side of East Lawn Building is where they filmed End!verse Cas' death in S5 (where Dean wakes up after being knocked out and runs up to the building too late to save anyone). And on the other side is where they filmed 7x03, when Bobby stole the ambulence to transfer broken-leg Dean out of the leviathan filled hospital.
Crease Clinic is referred to on Google maps as "Riverview Hospital" and it's the reason why I thought Riverview was just one active building and one abandoned one. It's the hospital they used for when Sam and Cas went insane in S7. It's also been used MANY OTHER TIMES, but that's the most iconic one for me. The front though, is best remembered as the asylum in S1's asylum:
It's also the building that they use the interior of the most often, I believe (such as in In My Time of Dying...and basically anytime we see that interior staircase with the big windows.)
They were setting up for filming SOMETHING while we were there, but there were (curiously) absolutely no signs to tell us what it could be.
Also on the Riverview campus are some roads that they've used for stunt driving, a cottage that they used as a victims house just last season (11x03 or something like that), and a green building that they turned into a school for S11's Plush episode.
While were at the East Lawn Building taking pictures, another guy taking pictures walked up to me and was like "What show are you with?" and I realized what assumption he had made, so I answered "Uh, Supernatural - but we're just fans taking pictures. What show are you working for?" and yeah, he was indeed a location scout working for yet another pilot that is going to be filming in town. Right now (as I found out at the cocktail party) There are 53 productions filming in Vancouver! In comparison, when Supernatural first started, there were only 17.) So, needless to say, there is a lot of competiton for popular filming locations.
It was the first time I'd been to the Storm Crow Ale House out near Broadway and Granville. Mainly, because it's out near Broadway and Granville, and I've got the Storm Crow Tavern in my neighbourhood, so WHY WOULD I GO ALL THAT WAY?! Well - it's a pretty awesome bar, for one. It's also got some neat features - like you can use D&D dice to build your burger, if you wanted. That's fun! I didn't do that, I just ordered a chicken burger, 'cause I'm boring.
Anyway, the place was abuzz with fangirl chatting. I don't think I really even got a chance to greet or talk to Jules, who was busy hosting the event, but that's understandable.
The guest was Jerry Wanek, who is the production designer for Supernatural. He designs everything from the Men of Letters bunker to the motel rooms, to the beer labels. Or, at least, he overseas the designs for it. He's head of that department.
I didn't take any notes, but here's a rough list of what I remember:
- Jerry puts the shows success down to Jared and Jensen, who elevate the writing with their acting ability, create a great environment on set, and also appreciate the fandom.
- Jerry hates LA and wanted to stay filming in Vancouver - but he claims that he jumped on the Supernatural job because he had worked on Dark Angel and knew Jensen, and as soon as he heard that Jensen was going to be a lead on the show, he was in.
- There were 17 productions filming when SPN started, now there are 53.
- They have 8 days to create, paint, and decorate all their sets.
- They do not have very much studio space, so a lot of times the shape of a set is dictated by the other sets that they have to squeeze into the studio.
- They name the liquor bottles/beers after the crew or their friends and family a lot of the times.
- One of his favourite things he built was the Little Levi's gas station, because it was named in honour of Jensen's nephew, and then they sent the sign down to him afterward.
- Jerry also likes working in Vancouver when the production is down in LA, because it means that the studio and the LA producers can't stick their nose in productions business very easily - ie: their not being micro-managed. Jerry loves that Kripke, and everyone who has followed him, has always let Jerry and his crew make the design decisions.
- When the Bunker was described in a script, it was described only by the words "Concrete Bunker" - Jerry and his crew figured out that it would be an Art-Deco/WPA era power-plant, based on the history of the Men of Letters, and the fact that it was written as having people living and working there (which would need electricity). He joked about how the writer was giving an interview about the Bunker and was asked "Is this how you pictured it when you wrote it?" and the writer was like "Oh yes! Exactly as I pictured it!" and all Jerry could think of were the words "Concrete Bunker."
- The only spoiler that Jerry let slip was that at some point there will be a fruit stand in S12 (named after a family who owned a cherry orchard that one of the members of crew once knew).
ETA: Jerry also had the best answer I've ever heard to the question "What does Jensen smell like?"
After Jerry spoke, we returned to our drinks for a short period of time... eventually Jules tried to get everyone's attention again, to varying degrees of success - and introduced Lee Shorten, who is an Australian actor who played Crowley's Super Handsome Asian(-Australian) Demon minion.
Lee talked about how nice Mark Sheppard is to work with... and he talked about Man in the High Castle, which is the show that he's currently working on, and is a historical AU based on the idea that the German and Japanese win WWII and divide the US, ala Cold-War era Germany. (I wonder what happens to Canada in this scenario, perhaps the same?). So far, Lee isn't in S12 of SPN, because he's been filming Man in the High Castle and SPN conflicts wih that.
I then got a selfie with Lee, because I think he's handsome. Then I remembered how much I hate looking at myself in photos and regretted it, but WHATEVER. Here it is:
Then Jules called up my friend Theo! He plays the Shadow Orc in LARP and the Real Girl in S8 - the one that Felicia Day smacks in the face with a bean bag. Theo joked about how his character didn't die, so technically he could come back if there was enough fan outcry. He also talked about how Felicia Day is the awesomest. And about how even though he just had a really small roll, when the director found out that it was his last day, he had the crew give him a round of applause. :)
Then Jules called up New Doug.. Brandan Taylor, but I actually didn't hear what he said, because I followed Theo back to our table at that point and away from where people were speaking... and yeah, where are table was, there was a lot of people talking, so it drowned out the interviews (even though they were micced.)
Anyway, by then it was getting late, I was exhausted, had work in the morning, and so I called it a night.
Fun times were had by all though - and thus ended another VanCon.
I'll decide about next year in the spring - it'll depend on finances and stuff. I also want to go on a real vacation next year, and it might be too difficult to do both things, and real vacation is my #1 priority, because I haven't had one in 4-6 years (it depends if you count me going to Bermuda for 4 days to attend a wedding).