Heritage estates attracting film industry to South Vancouver

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South Vancouver’s Rio Vista, which as been used in many films over the years. Submitted photo

Reported by Melanie Green

Hollywood North has been shining the spotlight on South Vancouver.

A number of heritage homes with sprawling estates, have been featured in popular series and movies.

Both The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise and Legends of Tomorrow filmed at South Vancouver’s 1930s Rio Vista estate, the latter using it as the estate of King Louis in 1637 for the recent season premiere. Luxurious mansions are commonly used to depict different eras. The 1925 WilMar Estate was the location of The Magicians and Lucifer series.

Kathryn Morrow, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, said distinguishing characteristics vary from house to house.

“They are a remarkable treat to serve as backdrops in film as their quality of architecture, craft and materials are rarely seen in today’s construction,” she said.

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Garwin Sanford, Langara film instructor. Photo: Melanie Green

The X-Files filmed at St. Vincent’s Hospital Langara and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse at David Thompson Secondary School, showcasing other South Vancouver locations.

Garwin Sanford, a Langara College film instructor, said that since the 1980s American companies have been shooting in Vancouver, but after 9/11, the industry experienced a lull. It has been building back, especially since the Canadian dollar dropped.

“They rediscovered us and it’s gone crazy, we are busier than we’ve ever been,” said Sanford, who added it’s also because the landscape offers everything, from mountains to an ocean within half an hour distance from each other.

South Vancouver locations convenient for film crews

South Vancouver has estates with surrounding land, meaning a film crew can shoot multiple scenes without having to move locations.

Michael Khazen, owner of High Deaf Productions, said the residential South Vancouver neighbourhood has stringent city permit regulations but the aesthetic provides storytelling scenes, making movies shine.

Some residents are relieved when the commotion of the film crew is over, said Khazen.

“The public, for the first little while, is very curious and thinks it’s cool but the novelty always wears off.”

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