#YVRShoots – “Jensen and Jared“ Let Loose on Lonsdale

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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.

Horror TV series Supernatural is known for several things in Vancouver: its habit of shooting so late on Fridays that Saturdays have been re-named Fraturdays by its crew; its constant use of smoke machines to create gothic atmosphere even on sunny afternoons; its signature vehicle, the black Impala; and its male leads Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki (the Winchester brothers) who attract rabid fans from around the world (SPACE Channel’s InnerSPACE chose them as the sexiest sci-fi stars of 2010).

Supernatural`s vociferous fan base is both a blessing and a curse. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki share a bodyguard named Clif who helps keep the fans at bay and block photographers` shots of the actors (recently Clif took to wearing a panda toque which is now featuring in many photos). And when filming at urban locales, producers often structure scenes so that only one lead is visible at a time (in very short exterior scenes) and even then, is often standing with his back to the fans and their cameras.

So I was surprised this week to be tipped that “Jensen and Jared” would be filming many outdoor scenes for episode 6.18 near lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver. And it turned out to be true. Some fans standing near the pair`s parked “star car” on West 1st Street even snagged photos of themselves with Jensen Ackles. Both actors remained on the open street during takes and seemed remarkably loose on location: entertaining the crew with stories, perhaps of their much talked-about Superbowl party with their TV father Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the Red Card Sports Bar last Sunday.

If you’ve watched any of the series’ six seasons then you`ll know that most Supernatural scenes take place at night with a spooky fog swirling about. The first night shoot I photographed last September proved to be classic Supernatural: from half a block away through dense smoke on Hamilton Street I captured Padalecki’s Sam pretending to chop off a vampire’s head with a huge knife in several extremely grainy photos. Crew had transformed an old bank building nearby into a Vampire Nest and throughout the several days and night of shooting, extras wandered back and forth to the craft tent, blood makeup dripping from their mouths and on their shirts. Later the entire production moved a few blocks east to the Lotus Lounge turned goth bar, filled with emo poser extras. I laughed when a production assistant revealed the title of episode 6.06 as “Live Free or Twihard“. Or as Ackles`s Dean put it when he spied Twilight-style posters on a young victim`s bedroom walls: “Those aren`t vampires. Those are douchebags.“

At the Hamilton shoot for the vampire episode, producers had to remove the black Impala from the street until late in the evening because some fans disrupted filming to get to the car (one of several owned by the production). But by the time Supernatural returned to the downtown area in November to film scenes in Chinatown a new policy seemed to be in place. The black Impala stayed after its scenes, presumably left out for fans to photograph themselves with, taking a little pressure off the working actors. I snapped it parked in the drive of the West End mansion on Davie Street in November for the recent episode  “Like a Virgin”.

One other thing of note about Supernatural fans is their endless appetite for any photographs related to their show. Already there have been thousands of hits on photos I uploaded to Flickr the day after the Monday-Tuesday shoot, mostly from fans but unfortunately also nabbed by for-profit enterprises and this has led to a decision to disable downloading of my Flickr photos.

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