#YVRShoots – Fringe in Stanley Park

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This new series had its genesis when I began photographing Vancouver area location shoots last summer to get over a long post-Olympics funk. Film and TV productions like This Means War, Mission Impossible 4, Fringe and the new AMC series The Killing showcase our city in similar fashion and sometimes put a celebrity actor or two in the frame.

Before I started this feature I made a promise to some friends that I wouldn’t pick a location shoot of sci-fi television series Fringe each week. It’s going to be a hard promise to keep because Fringe does some of the most visually-spectacular shoots in the city. Look at how the Fringe crew transformed an ordinary meadow in Stanley Park into something other-worldly on Monday night with big lighting cranes, rolling fog from smoke machines across Park Drive and temporary white tulips.

Fringe — which stars Anna Torv as FBI agent Olivia Dunham, Vancouver’s own Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop and John Noble as the delightfully-addled Dr. Walter Bishop – filmed its first season (2008-09) in New York and its second season (2009-10) in Vancouver. I started photographing Fringe in its third season (2010-11) and from what I’ve seen so far, it films on location more than any other series here. This DVR and streaming hit (up to 7 million U.S. viewers when delayed viewing included) has been known to shoot in three different Vancouver area locations on the same day and that shows on the screen.

On Monday, though, Fringe’s second unit seemed content to stick with just the one location near Second Beach in Stanley Park: filming scenes of Walter Bishop’s station wagon driving up and down Park Drive during the day, while others planted white tulips in the grass field towards Lost Lagoon for the night shoot.

After dark, the film lights went on and the crew started setting up a tracking shot of what appeared to be a young Olivia Dunham and young Peter Bishop talking in the tulips. Adults sat on the grass in the bitter cold so that the scene could be lit for the two young actors, who hugged the director on arrival and did a couple of rehearsals in their down coats.

The first scene called for three-and-a-half pages of memorized dialogue but the youngsters handled it with aplomb despite their now summer clothing in winter temperatures. I fared worse in the wind whipping up from Second Beach, deciding to leave after the third take due to uncontrolled shivering.

Here’s hoping that today’s Fringe location shoot at the University of British Columbia will be warmer in the snow if not as starkly beautiful and that it will mark the return of the adult Olivia and Peter and their thwarted romance (thanks to Peter’s affair with Olivia’s alternate-universe doppelganger Fauxlivia).

Fringe returns this Friday at 9 p.m. on FOX and City-TV.

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