Would it surprise you to know that Riverdale’s Archie and Ms. Grundy were locking lips on the shores of Alice Lake Provincial Park last season, not Sweetwater river? Or that Squamish bouldering fields stood in for the backdrop of a hostile planet in the 2009 Star Trek movie?
Other filmed-in-Squamish scenes in movies and television shows you might recognize include: the Twilight franchise, Free Willy 3: The Rescue, Percy Jackson, Supernatural, The 100, iZombie and The X-Files.
Not to mention car manufacturers like Cadillac, Ford, Toyota, and Jeep often drive out on our stunning roads to show off their latest models in international car commercials.
“When people are coming up to Squamish to scout for location they know generally what they’re looking for,” explains Devon Guest, the District of Squamish’s manager of arts and culture.
“They know what Squamish has to offer, which is easy access to nature, a small town and clear and transparent process for our community and for the industry.”
Squamish standardized its filming procedures in 2015 to attract more productions to town.
In 2016, crews from 61 productions spent 221 days in Squamish.
The bulk of productions were commercials and Hallmark made-for-TV movies, with feature films and TV series making up a smaller portion.
The effect on the local economy is impressive. The productions spent a total of almost $1.4 million on things like catering and hotel rooms, in addition to film fees paid to the District.
Many locals work in the industry, from costume designers to riggers who head to the rock face to climb on their days off.
One of our most well-known local talents is Peter Kent, now a district councillor but previously the professional stuntman for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kent said working in both Hollywood, and Hollywood North as an actor and producer is an experience that taught him a lot about people managing and taking risks, and having productions in the community brings plenty of benefits, he said.
In 2014, Kent brought his Hollywood flair to the municipal election, promising to light himself on fire if the voter turnout improved.
“At the time, I just threw it out there. I just thought I’d just throw down the gauntlet and nothing will probably happen. Well, ure enough, it did. It was crazy, it was pouring rain, but we had maybe 300 people show up,” he said. As a member of the Hollywood Stuntmen Hall of Fame, everything was done by the book. Kent teaches the art of stunts, including the “full burn” at his School of Hard Knocks stunt school in Vancouver.
If you run into celebrities in Squamish, Kent’s advice is to play it cool. “When I first met Clint Eastwood I was pretty impressed, I mean, he’s a pretty big deal — but I’ve worked with quite a few of those people, and everybody puts their pants on the same way,” he said.
And if you wake up to find city blocks transformed into a post-apocalyptic zombie-land, or streets that look like Christmas in July – don’t worry, it’s probably just a bit of Hollywood magic. “It’s always interesting when a production creates something out of nothing,” says Guest, who notes that every production is required to clean up after themselves. “So often the Hallmark movies of the week turn a municipal hall into a police station or Paradise Valley Road becomes a backdrop for the latest and newest car model. That’s pretty neat.” •