According to local history teacher Chris Banks, the 1980 film Out of the Blue, directed by and starring Dennis Hopper, is the holy grail of Vancouver footage.
"It has several scenes shot at the Ridge 5-pin bowling alley and movie theatre, both fondly remembered places for me," Banks says. "I went to my first ever movie at the Ridge. Because the buildings were demolished about ten years ago, it was special to see them captured in a film giving them a sort of immortality. The film is dark and devastating but also brilliant; seeing so much of Vancouver in that era was super fascinating."
Banks has a special interest in movies filmed in Vancouver and over his summer break has been putting together compilations of footage from 80s and 90s movies interspliced with historical facts about where they were shot.
"Looking at these films from the past feels like a trip down memory lane and it was a fun exercise trying to identify all the locations in the city that are captured in movies," he tells V.I.A over email. "I’m a lifelong Vancouverite that’s witnessed many changes to the city since my childhood. As a person obsessed with history and movies, it was a natural fit for me, to want to chronicle the city of my youth."
When Banks saw many of the films in his edits for the first time, he was a kid who didn't notice his hometown on screen. It wasn't until he was watching The Accused, a 1988 movie with Jodie Foster, that he says he recognized quite a few Vancouver locations. "Particularly, one of the 7-Elevens I used to go to as a kid has one of the film’s pivotal scenes," he shares.
After he re-watched a childhood favourite, The Neverending Story he noticed the climactic scene took place in Gastown. "I wondered how much hidden Vancouver footage was hiding in old movies and started actively looking for it and watching these films while trying to figure out an interesting format to present it in," he explains.
While Banks is a history teacher and concedes that the edits - considering the amount of city architecture, infrastructure, and neighbourhoods that they capture - do lend themselves to a history lesson, ultimately they are a passion project for him. He does have a school project on Vancouver’s urban geography and history that explores many of the items discussed in the film but he thinks the edits might be better suited as a follow-up video to show the students once they have a solid understanding of the region.
He says he enjoys the creative process of film editing and re-purposing old footage and music and that he decided to put the edits on YouTube because there wasn't anything he could find that was similar. "Primarily, I think I just want to contribute something to the understanding of this city’s history," he says.
One of his favourite Vancouver movie moments comes from the cult classic Rumble in the Bronx which Banks thinks has some of the most simultaneously funny and ironic moments. "The fight between Jackie Chan and the bad guys, on top of a parking garage downtown, has amazing stunts and choreography. However, anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Bronx knows that the North Shore mountains don’t belong in the frame. Having spent a brief time in the Bronx, it's clear Vancouver is a preposterous double for the New York borough," he points out.
So far Banks has only made edits of 80s and 90s films and says that he plans to take a break before releasing the 2000s and 2010s series of videos next year. "I spent far too much of my summer holidays on this project," he jokes.