YVRshoots – Once Upon a Time in the Village of Fort Langley

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This series had its genesis when I began photographing Vancouver area location shoots in the summer of 2010 to get over a post-Olympics funk. Film and TV productions like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Fringe, Supernatural and Once Upon a Time showcase our city in similar fashion and sometimes put a celebrity actor or two in the frame.

Modern-day fairy tale series Once Upon a Time’s fictional Storybrooke includes storefronts on Moncton Street in the village of Steveston and other store fronts 50 kilometres away on Glover Road in the village of Fort Langley. Last week, a steady-cam crew filmed scenes of  the show’s stars Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin walking and talking, starting near the historic Fort Langley Community Hall dressed as Storybrooke Town Hall and ending just past the entrance to Gasoline Alley.

Jennifer Morrison debuted yet another kickass leather jacket in Fort Langley for her character Emma Swan, to be coveted by fashion-centric fans: this one a black sheerling jacket with a hood — a worthy successor to her radical red one of the first three episodes, as well as the military brown and bold blue ones Swan sported later on. Vancouver’s Ocean Drive Leather has custom made five $1200 to $1500 jackets for Morrison so far this season.

Since I last wrote about Once Upon a Time in my YVRShoots series, much-lamented “Hot Hipster Sheriff” Graham died in the Fall Finale to the dismay of his many fans. As Jennifer Morrison live-tweeted during the broadcast: ” Sheriff Graham is greatly, deeply missed!! We love you @jamiedronan1 #LongLiveJamieDornan #OnceUponaTime”. Upcoming episode eight on January 8th sees her interim sheriff pitted against a rival candidate in the election for a new Storybrooke sheriff, much of it filmed at the Fort Langley Community Hall back in October, decked out with a big “Debate Today” banner and Swan for Sheriff posters.

This time the banner at Fort Langley Community Hall read “Miners Day is Here!” for episode fourteen expected to air sometime in February, which tells the backstory of Lee Arenberg’s Grumpy of Seven Dwarfs fame in the fairy tale world and handyman Leroy in the real world of Storybrooke. Crew spent last Tuesday and Wednesday morning setting up the tents and other elements of the Miners Day fair on the lawn.

Filming of the fair scenes began in the afternoon with Lee Arenberg’s handyman Leroy fixing a miner’s lamp while his love interest played by Amy Acker of the Dollhouse and Angel fondly looks on. Like Arenberg, Acker has duel characters in Once Upon a Time: Astrid in Storybrooke and Nova in the fairy tale world.

I arrived in the morning to see Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin chatting ahead of their walking-and-talking down Glover Street scene. Just as they do in Steveston, Once Upon a Time crew had put their own signage over regular store signage, transforming one shop into The “Everything” Notions Store –offering everything from candy to cold cuts to school supplies (see below). It was fun to watch the steady-cam crew moving backwards as Morrison’s Emma ran round the corner to catch up with Goodwin’s Mary Margaret to stroll almost a block together in take after take. In between, the two pals gabbed in the lane.  Morrison, Goodwin and Josh Dallas, who plays David-slash-Prince Charming, had  done a photo shoot earlier in the week for the cover of TV Guide and Goodwin tweeted a candid photo of the trio “ice dancing” with arms and legs raised in the highrise suite. Looked like fun. After their scene wrapped in Fort Langley I saw the two Jenn/Ginn-ifers drive away laughing  in Goodwin’s Mercedes with California plates.

Ginnifer Goodwin returned to Fort Langley much later that night to film scenes on the roof as Mary Margaret-slash-Snow-White with Lee Arenberg’s Leroy-slash-Grumpy. As she tweeted: “Even in cold rain in the middle of the night on a scary roof, I couldn’t have more fun than I do when acting w #TheGrumpster @leearenberg.”

Other cast who’d spent Wednesday on hold, because crew couldn’t fit their scenes in, showed up in Fort Langley last Thursday to the delight of residents: including Lana Parrilla as Regina the Mayor-slash-Evil Queen and Jared Gilmore as her adoptive son Henry. As you can see below, Coast Capital Savings became the Storybrooke Savings & Loan and a big yellow Storybrooke school bus covered up other familiar Fort Langley businesses in the background of the shots.

That night Josh Dallas filmed a heartbreaking scene with Ginnifer Goodwin of her Mary Margaret walking towards his David, who looks sadly away when he spots her. So there’s still no happy ending for Snow White and her Prince Charming in either world.

And that was it for Fort Langley as Storybrooke in 2011. Once Upon a Time spent last Friday filming scenes in the Lynn Valley library with Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jared Gilmore, Lee Arenberg and Amy Acker.

On Saturday, most of  the cast flew home for the holiday hiatus, with 11-year-old Jared Gilmore tweeting about his encounter with autograph hounds and paparazzi at the Vancouver airport: “6:30 am at the airport with bed head and Paparazzi. My sister is gonna love these pictures. So excited to be heading home.” Only Lee Arenberg and his on-screen lady love Amy Acker had more scenes to do on Saturday for Grumpy’s episode.

When Once Upon a Time resumes filming in the new year it will be to tell the story of another iconic fairy tale character,  Little Red Riding Hood. Meghan Ory is Ruby of the impossibly long legs in Storybrooke and Little Red in the fairy tale world.

ABC  is airing a Once Upon a Time mini-marathon of four previously-seen episodes on New Year’s Day.

Once Upon a Time returns on January 8th with new episodes, airing Sundays at variable times on CTV and at 8 p.m. on ABC

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Follow Susan on Twitter at Twitter.com/SusanGittins, watch her photo stream on her Flickr for daily updates and watch V.I.A. for more from her #YVRShoots series!