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Kamloops, British Columbia became Angel Grove, California on Wednesday (April 13, 2016) as filming got underway on the new Power Rangers super heroes movie.
Drivers and pedestrians had to be patient as most parking spots in the downtown core were marked Reserved, lanes and entire blocks were closed, and traffic monitors directed traffic throughout the day.
Thompson-Nicola film commissioner Vicci Weller took several TNRD reps into the fray to talk with film publicist Ernie Malik and to watch some of the “action.”
“You won’t see any Power Rangers here,” said Malik as we stood on Seymour Street with crews bustling around us. He explained that this is second-unit filming of street scenes— the Power Rangers and alien invaders stuff will be shot elsewhere and dubbed in.
Malik, who lives in Chicago — he said you don’t have to live in Los Angeles to be part of the Hollywood film industry anymore — regaled us with tales of being hounded by media at various film shoots he’s worked on.
A film shoot is a big deal for most towns and local media are relentless, he said, so producers make a point of trying to give them as much access as possible. “Damn media,” I agreed.
I asked him about the weather, which he said was good Wednesday but weather is a major continuity issue. Watch the sky during the end of Jaws where Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw sail out to kill the great white shark, he said, and you will see that in some shots the sky is clear, in others it’s cloudy.
That’s because filming took place over several days, and weather is one continuity challenge filmmakers can’t control. Since the Kamloops shoot will be done over a week, it could be an issue here as well, especially since parts of Steveston will also be used as Angel Grove, and you know how changeable the weather is at the Coast.
We strolled down Fourth Avenue to Victoria Street and were quickly shooed across the intersection by a production assistant who was getting set up for some filming. As we stood there, a tall guy walked out of the Plaza and one of our contingent was pretty sure it was Hamish Purdy, who got an Oscar nomination for set decoration in The Revenant.
After waiting for quite some time, somebody yelled to stop the traffic, and action was called for filming of a cast extra whose job it was to walk several steps down Fourth Avenue, then stop and look up. She was asked to do it a second time; the whole thing took less than a minute of actual shooting time.
The TNRD gets a lot of films and TV commercials but it’s rare that downtown Kamloops is used as a location. Usually, the small-town scenes are filmed in Merritt or Ashcroft, and the likes of Harrison Ford (I met him twice when he was here), Jennifer Lopez and Clint Eastwood have been here over the years.
Area P’s movie claim to fame came in 1990 when Martin Sheen produced and directed a film called Cadence that starred him and his son Charlie, filmed at the old Mount Lolo radar base. Martin Sheen rented a house in Sahali and became something of a fixture as he shopped in local super markets and shot a few hoops with neighborhood kids (Charlie’s preferred hangout was the Go Bananas nightclub on Tranquille Road).
While some of the Saban/Lionsgate production of Power Rangers will be shot outside Kamloops (the Dewdrop Range will become a mine site for the movie), the most intense filming will be done downtown through to next Tuesday.
In the 16 years since the film commission was established by the TNRD, it’s brought millions of dollars of business into communities in this region. Power Rangers will drop somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 into the Kamloops economy this week.
Plus goodwill, fun and good publicity for Kamloops and region.