If you’re a serious movie buff, you know there’s nothing better than visiting the real life locations where your favorite movies were made. Vancouver as a city and BC in general are often referred to as “Hollywood North”, with good reason. A long list of films have taken advantage of the unique natural and urban beauty that British Columbia has to offer, and chances are that every member of your family has a favorite movie that was made, at least partially, right here in BC.
Dad, assuming he grew up in the ‘80s, will want to visit Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park (otherwise known as Othello Tunnels), near Hope, to bring back memories of Sylvester Stallone’s first Rambo flick, “First Blood” (1982). The town of Hope served as the film’s imagined small town Washington State setting. Not far away is Golden Ears Provincial Park, which also provided some of the rugged wilderness where Stallone’s character, Vietnam veteran John Rambo, wreaked havoc on local law enforcement in this cult classic from the action genre.
Meanwhile, Mom and teenage daughter might shed a tear as they drive through the wide ranging ranchland of the Thompson-Nicola area and envision moments from “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005). The film’s soccer camp scenes, supposedly set in California, were actually shot on location in Ashcroft and neighbouring Cache Creek.
If Mom and daughter are not quite out of tissue, they will want to head to the Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, and perhaps walk the halls of “Dancing Elk High School”, which is actually Eric Hamber Secondary School. Here, scenes from the smart, funny tearjerker, “Juno” were staged. The film, starred Ellen Page, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman, and was nominated for Best Picture at the 2007 Academy Awards. The secondary school and other parts of Vancouver stand in for the Minnesota setting.
Chances are that teenage daughter has also discovered the “Twilight” series of books and movies that started to appear just over a decade ago. It turns out that three of the films were partially shot in and around Vancouver and other parts of the Lower Mainland. The second installment, “New Moon” (2009), had stars Robert Pattison (vampire), Taylor Lautner (werewolf), and Kristen Stuart (vampire wannabe) running, howling and shrieking their way around Vancouver’s Stanley Park and Kitsilano.
Scoffing at the teen angst of “Twilight”, little brother might feel it’s time to don his cape and reveal his true identity to the family while imagining the Alaskan setting of “Man of Steel” (2013) in the towns of Ucluelet or Nanaimo, both on Vancouver Island. Or perhaps he identifies more keenly with the misunderstood mutants of “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006), wishing that his siblings could appreciate some of his hidden superpowers? A trip to the Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University in Victoria might leave him feeling like he’s the newest pupil at “Xavier’s School for the Gifted”.
So Uncle Frank isn’t really into superhero flicks, but loves hard-hitting, Best-Picture-Oscar nominated action-dramas? Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent film, “The Revenant” (2015), contains an intense bear attack scene which was filmed in Derringer Forest in the Squamish Valley. Other wilderness scenes with characters hunting and setting up camp were shot in the Shovehouse Creek area, in the Squamish Rainforest.
Finally, Grandpa wants to get to a part of our province that he’s never been to before, and also happens to be a big fan of movies based on Farley Mowat books. “Never Cry Wolf”, released in 1983, was mostly filmed in the remote northwest corner of BC, in and around the town of Atlin. It’s so remote, you’ll have to drive through the Yukon to get there! But it also happens to be a great place for fishing, hiking, heliskiing, and gold-mining.
So the next time you sit down with your family and a bowl of popcorn to watch a great movie, only to realize (either during or while watching the “extras”) that all or part of the film was shot in BC, don’t just leave it at that. Start planning your next road trip, made up of real-life destinations made larger-than-life by your favorite silver screen stories!