Vancouver Screen Scene: From ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ to LGBT rights series ‘When We Rise’


by Craig Takeuchi

Vancouver’s screen industries have been enjoying a busy time with numerous projects heading into town. Fulfilling our reputation as Hollywood North both on and off set, there’ve been plenty of celebrities in tow, with sightings around the city being reported by citizens and paparazzi alike. If you’re either lucky or savvy enough (or both), you might even be able to snap a celebrity sighting yourself as a souvenir.

Of course, one of the most buzzworthy productions here at the moment is Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, once again starring Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, and Vancouver as Seattle.

British press have reported that U.K. songstress Rita Ora, who reprises her role as Mia Grey, has been spotted out on the town ever since she arrived on March 27.


Rita Ora enjoying a night out in Vancouver. Photo:

Costar Victor Rasuk also posted a photo on Twitter of himself reuniting with his castmates Ora and Eloise Mumford.

Another British luminary, Hugh Dancy, flew into town on April 11 to play the role of Christian Grey’s psychiatrist.


Hugh Dancy chat with a friend as he arrives at Vancouver International Airport. Photo:

The film has been shooting in locations as varied as the University of British Columbia, Suki’s Hair Salon, and Hornby Plaza.

Author Erika James also posted an interior shot from the production that offers a tiny glimpse of what to expect.

Romance—of a less kinky kind—is coming up roses in Vancouver in another screen form. The Bachelorette Canada, which began production this week, is scheduled to continue shooting until the end of October. If you happen to see a proliferation of well-groomed, romantic, handsome men out on the streets (aside from Jamie Dornan), you’ll know why.

Of course, Vancouver has long been a forerunner of equality when it comes to love in all its forms—including LGBT people—so it’s rather fitting that When We Rise is being shot here. The TV mini-series chronicles the history of the LGBT rights movement, beginning with the pivotal Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969.

Among the cast are Guy Pearce and Mary-Louise Parker, as well as locally based Canadian screen star Sonja Bennett (Preggoland).

It’s being made by notable names in queer cinema: director Gus Van Sant and Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the team behind the critically lauded gay-activist biopic Milk.

Moving on to superheroes of a different—and more foul-mouthed—kind, Deadpool 2 was recently confirmed as greenlit. Whether or not it’ll be filmed in Vancouver again like the first box-office-smashing installation was remains to be seen. But if locally raised Ryan Reynolds has any sway, he may bring it back home again. And if so, it’ll benefit far more than just the local film industry: Deadpool spent over $40 million in the B.C. economy.


Fans of superheroes—and the supernatural—on the home screen will be interested to note that production on Season 2 of The Flash ended on April 17 while the shooting of Season 4 of Arrow and Season 11 of Supernatural both wrapped up on April 20.

Something to keep in mind is that it’s not just Hollywood stars who are flocking here. The Solutrean, directed by Albert Hughes, features a multicultural, international cast.

Australia’s Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Apocalypse), Sweden’s Jens Hultén (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), Poland’s Marcin Kowalczyk, and Iceland’s Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson join Vancouver’s Priya Rajaratnam and Mercedes de la Zerda in a survival story set 20,000 years ago in the last Ice Age. Talk about cool. Literally.

But if you fail to catch sightings of celebrities on the street, don’t despair: there are plenty of local options to catch them on the big screen. And on that note, fans of hard-to-find films will be pleased to know that the Cinematheque (1131 Howe Street), a Vancouver arthouse and foreign film theatre, invested upwards of $120,000 to upgrade its seats and sound system this month. Now with high-backed, faux leather chairs and Dolby Stereo Surround 7.1, cineastes can catch its cinematic retrospectives and rare new releases in greater comfort.


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