Monday, bright and far too early, I made my way downtown to get on the location tour bus! My shoes had given me blisters the day before, and I thought "hopefully this location tour doesn't require that much walking!" and spoiler - it did. But that's okay!
Let's get into it.. WITH PICTURES....
Actually, before we get too much into this - I should say that the great thing about being able to go on the official locations tour is that it takes you to places that aren't open to the public, so you can't see these places otherwise. And right before I show you the first one, I'm going to say that I really really wish that the public COULD access some of these places...
First up: Jack's birthplace
This is located up the Sea to Sky - so the drive was gorgeous. On the way into the location, you also pass the dunes they used for the AU (they look MUCH SMALLER in person. I didn't take a picture of them, but Russ explained that the dunes are popular with dirt-bikers, so when they used them (and didn't want dirt-bike tracks all through them) they had to set them up with 24/7 security for the 4 days before filming.
Anyway, back to the actual cabin location. The cabin was built in pre-fab chunks and then trucked out here. The feat of it is that it's a LONG walk into the property, and not really good road for large heavy trucks - so there was a lot of smaller convoys to get everything into place. The cabin was assembled in just 2 days (again, prefab) and they used it 4 more times before that set was destroyed. Also, because they were filming inside and out, the whole thing had to be as much to code for load-bearing/safety as possible. Which is crazy impressive to me.
Unfortunately, this IS private land. It used to not be, and if you wanted to hike in and camp here, you could. But like much of the coast, it's been bought by a developer who eventually wants to build multi-million dollar homes here.
200th episode Fan Fiction Theatre:
This is as closest you get to "open for the public" in that this is a local theatre in Port Coquitlam that's attached to the high school of the same name. So, you can see it if you go to an event there, or, presumably, if you attend that high school!
This is where they shot the play of Supernatural in the 200th episode. It looks smaller than it does on TV (doesn't everything?) Russ showed it to us and pointed to where I was standing at the time (the second to last step shown above) and said "That's where Chuck was standing at the end." So, there we go!
We all got on stage and sang Carry On Wayward Son, which was a lot of fun. We had a woman with us who had obviously either sung in choirs or done theatre before, because she had gorgeous voice and led us very well. I felt bad that she had to have me singing in her ear, with my inability not to crack on high notes.
It was great though - I love singing with a group, and it was pretty surreal to think about the community of fans that this show has brought together.
The behind the scenes stories for this location was the fact that Russ had to negotiate between unions in order to get it - there was a teachers strike at the time, and unions won't cross other unions picket lines, so Russ had to negotiate that the teachers would move their picket line to be solely in front of the school portion of the property, rather than the theatre portion - so that they could get the trucks and crew in without breaking solidarity with the other union.
It was originally built for a Canadian show called Border Town or possibly Bordertown, I don't know which one, because I never saw it, why people call it Bordertown.
Border town was used in a few episodes, but most notably All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 and Frontierland, and the barn was used in Benders...
It hasn't been maintained, so most of the buildings are off limits except for the saloon. The barn is SO off limits, that they don't even want you to walk within 20 feet of it, because apparently tiles from the roof will sometimes come flying off at great speeds.
It was also the location of Sam's death in All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 - which Russ demonstrates for us here (in a sad sad universe where Dean wasn't around to catch Sam's falling body):
The saloon was the only building that they'd let us enter, and even then, we were only allowed to go in 10 at a time:
A view out of the upper window in the saloon - so you can see the barn, Sam's death place, and our huge tour bus ruining the shot:
I'm not sure if the church was used for anything, but it looked familiar (most churches do though) and I thought it was neat:
I also thought this building looked familiar:
A lot of Supernatural is filmed in the woods at Panda Paintball. Sabrina now has priority filming there, so any other production that wants to film there has to check with Sabrina first to see if it's okay - but by and large, the paintball place now actually makes the majority of it's money from renting out its facilities to productions, rather than actually having paintball players come through... though, they still do that too, just not as frequently.
The first stop in the paintball place was....
Giant Monster Footprint
For those who can't remember - it's from The Bad Place episode in S13 - when Sam and Dean get sucked into the Bad Place and climb out of what they think is just a random hole they ended up in, but what the audience sees is actually a giant three-toed footprint.
My picture of it above isn't really the best due to lighting issues - but hopefully you can still make it out! And if you look there in the background, you'll see our next destination...
Cabin for S15 15x03 (Director: Richard Speight)
This cabin is for an upcoming episode - the one directed by Richard Speight Jr. Russ said it was 15x03, I'm not sure if that's filming or episode order though. He couldn't tell us anything about what was being filmed there (Russ doesn't work for the show anymore, he's now working on Sabrina - but he still has "spies" and has been given official permission to continue these tours during the convention.)
The cabin is inside the Panda Paintball place - which is actually uses airsoft, rather than paintball guns - hence why you can see little bits of Styrofoam type stuff everywhere - those are from the "bullets" of the guns.
They built the cabin in 12 days - and it smells AMAZING INSIDE!! Fresh cut wood and forest - and man, I just wanted to live there. I mean, it's just a shell, it doesn't have heat or water or facilities, and the fireplace is made of coated foam, but STILL.
Enjoy a picspam:
Our final stop at Panda Paintball was the location that we lost saw Benny. Russ said it was where Benny got decapitated - but I honestly don't remember Benny being decapitated in Purgatory - I thought he was just left there? Anyway, maybe my memory is finally just failing me when it comes to the show - and my days of remember everything are over.)
Mary's Death Place:
Next up was Joe Brown Park - this is where the cabin was that Nick was using to resurrect Lucifer. It's entrance would be facing us if it were still there.
And this is our assistant tour-guide Mel standing around back of the cabin, in the place that Mary was killed.
Does it look like there should be more trees? Do you remember more trees being around? That's because SPN brought in some of their own trees in order to make the space look a little more dynamic and visually interesting. And of course, the felled trees AFTER the blast, were put in by them as well, since they can't just go around felling trees willy nilly. They did dig up one tree from this location, which would have been in the cabin's kitchen if they had left it - but they just replanted it somewhere else in the park, and they had to get special permission to even do that much.
We were running about an hour behind schedule, so we didn't have time to go to the place where Mary's funeral pyre was - but it was also in Joe Brown park, just up this path:
And then it was back on the bus and a return to the hotel...
Russ gave us a lot of info on the bus too - answering questions, telling stories... things that I remember are that Supernatural tends to film 5 days on location, 3 days on set, for the average episode. Episodes are always filmed over 8 days, with prep the week before also being 8 days.
If you think that's somehow industry standard - think again, because apparently Sabrina films 12 days with 12 days prep - that's a whole 4 extra days! It seems both Russ and his assistant didn't realize how organized SPN was until they left to film on a new show. Though Russ told us that all shows in their first seasons are disorganized messes, because people are still figuring out how things work and office politics and all that.
Russ also talked about directors - only the ones he likes, of course. Richard Speight is a great director to work with. And Jim MIchael's is a really good producer. But Russ talked the most about the late Kim Manners and how he was the best director and person Russ ever knew. That Kim would always be the person to get down in the trenches with you.
In terms of filming in Vancouver - a lot has changed since Supernatural started. Many of their filming locations are gone. There's not a single location from Monster Movie that still exists. It's getting harder and harder to find "small towns" within the filming zone. A lot of the small towns they used before have now been developed to the point where they just look like another large city. It's going to eventually change what can be filmed here - Russ has already seen some feature film productions come scout and then decide to film in New Zealand instead. But he doesn't think the filming industry will suffer here, it'll just change. There will be more studios/stages and productions will use the area more for "city" rather than "rural/small town".... or people will move their filming zones further outside the city.
(The way filming zones work is that if you're in your zone, and your start time is 8am, then your start time is 8am - but if you move outside your filming zone, then your start time INCLUDES TRAVEL - so if you're start time is 8am and you're an hour outside the filming zone, then your start time is actually 9am, and same with at the end of the day... so you lose precious filming time).
The backlot, which was originally built for The Watchmen and that Supernatural has been using for years (most notably in The End) has been half-demolished, because it was owned by multiple people and one of them decided that he wanted to sell his portion to a car dealership. So, that's mostly gone now too.
So, it's the end of an era in more ways than just the show ending!
Russ was also doing giveaways on the bus. I didn't win a door prize (some of the crew pins/clothing, and spn merch) - but Russ gave everyone an envelope full of miscellaneous papers and technical packages for previous episodes. I got a technical package for A Most Holy Man - which is mostly just maps of all locations, but it also included a floorplan of the Bunker kitchen WITH MEASUREMENTS - so someday, if I want, I can built my own. ;)
After I got back to the hotel, I booked it back to my place to drop off stuff, and then booked it across town to the Stormcrow Alehouse for the party!
I squished myself into my friend's booth, which was good because I think it was the only seat left in the house and it was probably pushing it even then (there were 7 of us crammed into that booth!) and I was there just as Jerry Wanek started speaking it.
He covered a lot of info that he shared at last years event too - the origin of the motel rooms, the fact that the Bunker was initially just described as "concrete bunker" - only this time, I found myself having different feelings about that last fact. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the bunker (mainly because I absolutely love art-deco) but my love for art-deco aside, I wonder if a concete bunker, something dingy and dirty and not magically clean, actually might have preserved the feeling of the show that I initially fell in love with in the beginning - instead of contributing to the sanitation of atmosphere that happened under Carver. Anyway, thoughts to contemplate...
Jerry was the second person to speak about Kim - and I'm wondering if he's just more in their minds now that the show is ending, because he was such a crucial part of its beginning. Jerry talked about how Jensen quotes Kim Manners all the time when he directs, and Jerry is always like "yes, yes I know, I was there too!" But that there's a reason for that, and Kim was a great director and person. Jerry also talked about how Kim was basically born working - his father was a producer on Route 66, which is actually one of the shows that SPN was modeled after. When Kim was dying, he said that he always thought he'd have some time on a beach somewhere before it happened - and Jerry rolled his eyes and reminded him that he had already come out of retirement three times, so that was obviously never going to happen. Kim was supposed to retire after X-files wrapped, but then a friend convinced him to try directing JUST ONE episode of SPN (Dead in the Water) and then there was no turning back.
There's an episode coming up where Jerry is trying to duplicate/make-fun of a Trump hotel. He tried to do it before (in the episode where Lucifer burns Rowena) but it didn't come across the way he wanted, so he's trying again. He's ordered $5,000 gold leaf wallpaper from the Netherlands in order to pull it off.
Jerry really liked Bobby's house - because it was blue collar and it lit really well. It had big windows, so you could do things with "natural" light that you can't do in the Bunker, because the Bunker doesn't have any windows.
The dollhouse in playthings cost $2,000 - they donated it to a Children's hospital afterwards.
Dean's Bar in his dreamscape was covered in Family Business Brewery logos, as well as having the beers on tap named after their beers. Most of the logos you couldn't even really see on screen.
Was there anything that looked like a set that was actually a location? Jerry thinks maybe the Tomahawk restaurant in North Vancouver (it's a great place if you're ever visiting Vancouver!)
Recently, Jerry's been working on a Hell set for the past 3 weeks. 3 weeks is the maximum time they've ever spent on a set.
The good cast and crew has kept Jerry working on the show this long - that, and the fact that because the show is somewhere new each week, and doing something completely different often, there's always something new for him to design and make.
Kevin Parks spoke after, and I missed a lot of this due to alcohol/eating related distractions - but he raffled off the Jersey from the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which he just got back from the previous night.
Kevin's wife Jill also worked on SPN in the early years - most notably she filmed the dollhouse stuff in S2 and the Colt backstory.
Kevin repeated what Russ had been saying earlier in the day - it's harder to find small towns and non-gentrified areas in Vancouver these days. And actually, maybe a lot of the information above that I contributed to Russ was actually things that Kevin said later - or maybe he just repeated it.
And then I completely lost track of the speaker, it seems, because there ends my notes. I should mention, it is wayward COCKTAILS - I can barely read my notes anyway. :P
Jules raffled off some prizes too! Sadly, I did not win anything. Too bad! All the money raised went to an organization for a humanitarian border down south - so no regrets on buying those tickets, even if I didn't go home a winner.
New Doug (Brendan Taylor) was there as well, and spoke after Kevin. He's been doing a play at the Cultch theatre here in town. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to hear him speak, because if I wanted a ride, I had to leave right away... (and I did, I had extremely painful blisters at this point that walking was fairly excruciating)
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