A city with its name up in lights
With its bustling harbour acting as a centrepiece, Vancouver is famously photogenic. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the Canadian west coast city has become one of the most popular destinations for filmmakers. On the silver screen it has stood in for many other cities, from Seattle to Mumbai. British Columbia’s biggest city has played leading roles in multiple genres, whether classic family films, fantasy adventures or big blockbusters with expensive digital effects and become a big pull for any travel experience in Vancouver in the process.
The principal reason is Vancouver’s amazing versatility. There are few places in North America as breathtaking or chameleon-like – there are rugged coastlines and steep mountains, a range of diverse urban neighbourhoods and shimmering ocean as well as lush rainforest nearby. And it’s not just Vancouver itself. Within its hinterland you can find towns like Hope, which has gone down in the annals of cinema as the small town where the first Rambo movie, First Blood, was set. They even built a petrol station and sheriff’s office specially for the Sylvester Stallone film that launched a memorable movie franchise.
Despite its natural charms, on your travel experience in Vancouver you’ll see how the Hollywood of the North performs the perfect lead roles for more anonymous locations too. The famous chase scenes in the first Deadpool movie were all shot in Vancouver, where multiple city blocks were cordoned off to the public for weeks. The eminently recognisable Georgia Street Viaduct appears in Deadpool as the setting for a pivotal fight scene accompanied by dramatic traffic chaos. The movie’s lead actor Ryan Reynolds, also known for heading up the X-Force as Wade Wilson, comes from Vancouver – which means his scooter crash on the corner of West Hastings and Burrard Street was the equivalent of a home game for him (apt for a man who now also part-owns Welsh football club, Wrexham AFC, with actor/director Rob McElhenney). Long before his acting career, Reynolds was familiar with Vancouver’s Chinatown – where he ‘lives’ in his role as Deadpool, by the Haru Korean Kitchen at 324 Cambie Street.
Vancouver also convincingly stands in for its near-ish neighbour over the border, Seattle, in the Fifty Shades of Grey film trilogy, based on the best-selling novels. The Fairmont Hotel at 900 West Georgia Street was transformed into the Heathman Hotel – which is in actually in Portland, Oregon – where Mr Grey stayed in the posh Lieutenant Governor Suite on the 14th floor. The hotel now offers film-loving guests a special ‘Romance Package’ in order to book a stay in the room. Many interior shots were filmed here, including the famous lift scene. The Fairmont is no stranger to cameras and action – this luxury hotel has been chosen as a set location for nearly 50 movies and TV series over the years.
The new hotspot for sustainable film production
But it’s for those increasing numbers of filmmakers who are striving to be greener that Vancouver is most sought after as a cinematic city. At first glance, film production isn’t exactly a beacon of sustainability – after all, hundreds of actors and crew need to be fed and accommodated, sets need to be rapidly assembled and dismantled and generators as well as hundreds of production vehicles need to be fuelled – all this leaves a substantial ecological footprint. On average, around 500 tonnes of CO2 are generated per production. As your travel experience in Vancouver will show, a concerted effort to look after its natural gifts means environmental awareness goes beyond the film industry, percolating throughout the city and across British Columbia.
Eco filming and eco awareness on your travel experience in Vancouver
Numerous initiatives in Vancouver are helping the entertainment industry and environmental sustainability grow together. Foremost among them is Reel Green, an alliance of members of the moviemaking and creative community that have come together in the annual Sustainable Production Forum. For several years they’ve been providing free training to film folk about reducing their ecological footprint. Their #REELGREEN campaigns have promoted the reduced use of diesel generators while promoting the recycling and reuse of materials, such as glass water bottles, on set. Increasingly, the influential entertainment industry sees itself playing an important role model for society on these issues.
Other environmental measures being undertaken include a reassessment of food use and as well as discussions about taking red meat off the catering menu. Real Green has also called for artificial snow – used in many productions set in wintertime Vancouver, whatever the time of year – to be completely replaced by a biodegradable alternative. Finally, it wants to see greater use of electric vehicles in film production. Just one of a number of good reasons for a closer look at this fascinating, green, film city and its striking surroundings. Maybe your travel experience in Vancouver will inspire you to write a screenplay for your very own Porsche road film.
This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.