Movies Shot in Vancouver

There are plenty of times movies aren’t shot on location in the actual city in which they take place. Sometimes it’s just cheaper and easier to have one city pretend to be New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago rather than dealing with all the costs and logistics of actually filming there. And if the filmmakers have done a good job, then you won’t know the difference.

However, for those who live in the Canadian city of Vancouver, it’s not hard to tell when Hollywood has turned your hometown into some other location. And as you see in this video detailing some of the movies shot in Vancouver, sometimes it’s not even another North American location that Vancouver has been turned into on film.

Here’s Vancouver Never Plays Itself from Every Frame a Painting:

(The name of this essay is a riff on the documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, which Russ wrote about when talking about Inherent Vice last year.)

Like the video says, Vancouver has been turned into a wide variety of locations on the big screen. The most fascinating revelation for me was that Vancouver doubled as Seattle, Eastern Europe and India in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

It’s not entirely difficult to trick the audience into thinking you’re in the location that the story says is in play. It just requires an establishing shot, usually from footage shot by a second unit, before you cut into the footage you shot in some local spot in Vancouver. Or you can simply shoot at night and leave most of the background out of focus so as not to make out any specific details.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done outside of some simple editing as the art department and production design has plenty of work to do on set in order to trick people that they’re looking at New York City or Philadelphia.

It’s kind of fascinating to see that Vancouver can easily stand-in for just about any location in the world. But as the video notes, for people who live there (at least the editor of this video), it’s kind of a bummer that Vancouver itself is never really featured as the setting of a movie while blockbusters destroy the same major cities on the big screen all the time.

While I admit that it does seem rather annoying that blockbusters have to destroy the same major cities and landmarks, regardless of whether Vancouver stands in for them or not, at least the city gets to have all these cool movies shooting there. As someone who doesn’t live in Vancouver, this just makes me want to go check out all these locations for myself, and that could be even better for the city than just appearing as themselves in a movie.

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