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29 August 2009 @ 01:06 pm
Finding the Holy Grail: Supernatural on Location! (teeny possible skippable spoiler at end)  
Finding the Holy Grail: Supernatural on Location!

I’m pretty sure that every fan who comes to Vancouver hopes above all to encounter the Supernatural crew shooting on location – I know that’s been my Holy Grail for several years now, and in pursuit of it, I’ve driven to past and potential locations across the greater Vancouver area. Well, Thursday night, with the help of friends, I found it!

They were shooting part of episode 5.05 in New Westminster, inside a garage near the intersection of Stewardson Way and Royal Avenue. Since the garage door was down while they were shooting, I couldn’t spoil anyone about what was happening even if I wanted to (which I wouldn’t, not being a spoiler junkie myself). Both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki were there, but it was too dark to get any photos. I didn’t even actually see them, but others in my group did, having a slightly different vantage point (as in, without a crew truck in the middle of it!). Jared wrapped for the night pretty much just as we arrived and was whisked off in a black SUV. Jensen – in a white dress shirt with red suspenders showing (hmm, maybe Dean Winchester saved the Dean Smith suit from It’s A Terrible Life?) – was on set for at least another hour, and waved to the little group of us as he, too, got picked up by the black SUV. The production assistant we were chatting with, a sweetheart named Nicole, said that the boys used to chat sometimes with fans on location and still will do it sometimes, but became much more guarded about when they’ll do it after returning to their trailer once to find three fans inside the trailer – a definitely uncool and unacceptable crossing of the line.

Although the boys were out of reach even of our camera lenses, one of the show’s three road-worthy Impalas was parked at the curb. Taking pictures of a black car on a dark street at night was a challenge, but we rose to the occasion! We had to stay about 10 feet away from her, but we could see her. We got closer to a police car also parked at the curb and used in the episode in a scene other than the one being shot inside the garage. My photos are up here:  http://s60.photobucket.com/albums/h4/Bardicvoice/Vancouver%202009/ 

We were carefully polite, committed to not being a nuisance, and the crew, in response, were very accommodating. They shared interesting factoids. Each of the big trucks in the circus – the gathering of production vehicles parked adjacent to the shooting location, required to carry all of the equipment (lights, cameras, cables, generators, props, dressing rooms, props, cars, etc.) – costs about $300,000. There are three crews always working: a prep crew getting things ready for the upcoming work; the shooting crew, managing all the logistics and executing each day’s (and night’s!) work; and the wrap or post crew, finishing things up. According to Nicole, the shooting crew alone comprises 135 people when they’re working on location. She was working the perimeter, with her job including keeping the set safe and also being able to alert others on the crew whenever the cameras and sound were going to be rolling so the crew would know when they had to be quiet and when they could work freely. Some of the crew were loading lights and cables onto the truck in front of us, and whenever “Rolling!” was called, had to take special care not to make noise if they chose to keep working.

Nicole said that shooting for HD had forced a lot of changes because it was much harder to capture the dimensional sound that surround sound requires since the multiple microphones in use caught a lot of ambient sound that could be a problem. She said that they’d also had to change the makeup they used to avoid anything that would bring out the pores in the actors’ skin, because the HD cameras picked up and emphasized every detail. Another assistant who came to speak with us said that they generally shoot on location for only two days out of the eight that each episode typically requires, and that most of the interior sets are built at the studio because it’s a lot easier to shoot where you can set lights and maneuver cameras through removable (or nonexistent!) ceilings. The posted no parking signs for this location were for one day only, from 9:00 AM Thursday until 3:00 AM Friday, and they were packing up by 10:00 PM.

Nicole and others on the crew who chatted with us thanked us for watching the show, since their jobs relied on the ratings we brought to the it. They were very tolerant of our transparent (but carefully quiet!) enthusiasm, and were very happy to be working on the show and to share that enjoyment with us. Scotty, the lucky guy in charge of the Impala, even deliberately revved the engine for us when he fired her up to drive her away to the truck that would carry her back to the studio! She sounds sweet, even though her doors don’t really squeak – that sound is added in post-production.

With the shooting over and the trucks being packed with equipment, we made our farewells. Nicole said that since she wasn’t going to be needed on Friday (when we were told by another assistant director they’d be shooting in the studio), she would be working a different gig: being an extra on the new Twilight movie shooting somewhere in town. We wished her luck!

And so one of my dreams has finally come true. Now I’m looking forward to the convention!


Segregated for potential spoilers (highlight to read easily):

Episode 5.05 is currently titled Fallen Idols. Earlier titles reported for the episode included Celebrity Skin and American Idol. It’s being directed by James L. Conway, who directed last season’s It’s A Terrible Life. And yes, this is the episode in which Paris Hilton appears, but her scenes wrapped earlier in the week. A sign inside the garage proclaimed, “Canton Sheriff” and the plates on the fake cop car were Ohio ones, so one presumes the episode is set at least in part in Canton, Ohio.

Current Location: Vancouver, BC
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas
ficwriter1966ficwriter1966 on August 29th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
Excellent report, Mary - thanks so much for giving us all the details!

Sounds like things are different in recent seasons - I'm sure I read that they shot on location the majority of the time, back in the beginning. I guess cost-cutting eliminated that.

I'm spoiled right up to the eyeballs, and each little bit I hear makes me more excited about the new season. Only 12 days to go!

Have a great time at the con!
bardicvoicebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
Hi, Carol!

There'll be more on this later, but the word from Russ Hamilton - Supernatural's location manager, aka "Moviegod" - is that the shooting schedule is still about half and half, although it varies from episode to episode. I suspect the PA who downplayed the number of location days was hoping to discourage us from continuing the hunt ... *grin*
Danipinkphoenix1985 on August 29th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
that's so awesome! I'm thrilled for you :D
bardicvoicebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
I'm pretty thrilled for me, too!!!
soydolcelatte: Metallicar frontsoydolcelatte on August 29th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
OMG Mary! I am SO frickin' happy for you I don't even know what to say! I'm actually sitting here with tears in my eyes! I'm so glad you got to see a location shoot and learn some of the more intricate details of filming. I know for you that's just as exciting (if not more!) than seeing the boys! ;) So so so happy for you! Is Sandra with you too?

My breathing actually quickened when I read the part about Scotty revving the engine! Lol!

Have a great time the rest of the weekend! Can't wait to hear more and so badly wish I was there with you guys!
bardicvoicebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Sandra was with me the whole time. We had an absolute blast - well, up until she lost her camera. She'll have all of my photos, of course, but she lost the last ones of her Mom, which was the worst of it all. We tried to make everything else extra-special-great, and I think we mostly succeeded.

Wait until you read parts two and three of the location hunt ...
(no subject) - sn_mistress on October 3rd, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jdsgirlbevjdsgirlbev on August 29th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
3 fans INSIDE the trailor! Yikes. And fans wonder why actors retreat after they become big names. Fans can be barmy (not to mention scary)!

Interesting info on HD, and on show details. Thanks. :D
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
Happy to oblige, and yeah - I don't think the guys will be chatting up any casual site visitors anytime soon, after all the loonies they've had to deal with. I'm certain the company were all relieved when the con ended and we all left ...
onemaskedchic on August 29th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
That is so neat! I love the front end pics of the Impala - she's so purty! :-)
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Wheee! Wait until you see the rest of the daytime pics; I blew lots on the two Impalas that showed up in my viewfinder!

She is gorgeous, all of her ...
raputathebuta: PeeWee tapefaceraputathebuta on August 29th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)

Thanks for this report, Mary!!!! Also for the pics!

Have a blast the rest of this weekend!!! *is trying to not be jealous*
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
Your hubby was in good voice, Rap! I missed his Sunday night concert at the Fortune Club - things at the con ran WAY late and I was dead - but Friday was sweet! Think I got some pics with you in mind ... *Grin*
zofia27zofia27 on August 30th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Very cool! Thanks for posting this and enjoy the rest of your trip!!
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
Thanks, Zofia - I definitely did! It's going to take me a while to write it all up, but I will, I swear!
I'm laughing on the insidespcmla86 on August 30th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
Wonderful report, Mary! I'm happy that you finally found your Holy Grail albeit partially. :-D Thanks for sharing it with us.
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
As you'll read in parts two and three, my dear, I got the whole Grail in the end! The only thing missing is an invitation to set, which I know I'll never get. But when they air episode 5.06, there are things I'm going to be looking for!!!
orehime: scissorsorehime on August 30th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Awesome! Lucky you :)
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
Thanks! I am well aware that I couldn't have been any luckier, and I bless every lucky star that shone on my search!
kelioskelios on August 30th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Your pics came out so well! I could kick myself for forgetting my camera, but yours are better than mine would have been anyway lol. Thanks for posting them so quickly, I'm memming them right now!
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
I'll post all the rest over time. I got a few good ones at the con, more on the tour, and a ton on my own. Wheeeee!

Good to meet you, by the way!
mangokulfimangokulfi on August 30th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for the report. Very interesting stuff bg info on the HD shooting stuff.

Also how scary that some fans would invade the boys' privacy like that by entering their trailers. I really do not understand some of these people. It's like they think that if a famous person is polite to them or gives them an autograph, they have become their best friends. It's bizarre. I have to say, I give the boys huge amounts of credit for continuing to be so open with the fans considering some of the stuff that I have heard about over the years.
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
I love geeking out on the technical things ... *grin*

The sense of entitlement that some folk have astounds me. I felt guilty and stalkerish enough hunting down shooting locations, even knowing that I would stay on public property and never try getting close. I can understand why some of the crew are really nervous among fans ...
seesmooshrunseesmooshrun on August 30th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing! Maybe we will be so lucky but I doubt it. And thanks for being respectful and cooperative (though I would have expected nothing less from you) and separating spoilers. It's been nice chatting with you at the con and I wish you awesome photo ops and good times for the rest of the weekend.
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Thank YOU! I had a blast at the con and even more of a blast after, as you'll see from parts two and three of Finding the Holy Grail ... *grin*
Kimmerkimmer1227 on August 30th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy for you! Sounds like you had a great time.

I can't believe 3 fans actually got in their trailers. That's like someone breaking into your house. On what planet is that okay? The sense of entitlement in this fandom really scares me sometimes.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Thanks! I definitely had a blast!
jaylan121 on August 30th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
The report is awesome and so is the spoilers. I'm so interested in the new season.
Thank you
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! The fifth season sounds like it's going to blow the doors off the hinges ... I can't wait!
cricket52579 on August 30th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
That's so cool to find out that the doors don't really squeak on the Impala. Kudos to the sound effects team because I always thought it was real, like part of the Impala's "voice". :)
bardicvoice: Twilight Metallicar by <lj user=Cakeholebardicvoice on September 8th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
I've been close enough to hear two Impalas, now. I smile for the voice that the Foley crew has given her ...