Filming Canada: On location in Montreal
Montreal is getting an international profile boost with big-budget thriller White House Down, which recreates Washington, DC, in the Canadian city. Nicholas Barker of the Montreal Film and TV Commission talks to TLG about what the city has to offer.
Barker has been in the business since the 70s, starting as a production assistant on commercials and low-budget features before eventually becoming a location manager and joining the Montreal Film and TV Commission. He is part of a two-man Locations and Resources team that promotes the city as a filming location, with support from the Quebec Film and TV Council.
“On my first day the film commissioner sat me down and explained there were two kinds of production that were interested in coming to Montreal,” Barker recalls: “The big sound-stage-based films that take advantage of our generous tax credits and the mid-level productions that are more location-driven.”
Roland Emmerich’s White House Down falls into the former category. Filming took place mostly at Mel’s Cite du Cinema to tell the story of a Washington cop who must rescue the American President and his own daughter when the White House is besieged by terrorists.
One of our most important locations is known as Old Montreal, which spans around 100 acres. It was originally a walled city with architectural influence from both Britain and France.
Nicholas Barker, Montreal Film and TV Commission
While Emmerich’s movie shines the spotlight on Montreal’s world-class studio facilities, the city also has much to offer in terms of exterior filming locations. Producers are frequently drawn to the historic architecture, which dates back to the mid-17th Century. This sense of history means Montreal can easily double for many different parts of the world, including iconic parts of Europe.
“One of our most important locations is known as Old Montreal, which spans around 100 acres,” Barker explains: “Founded in 1642, it was originally a walled city with architectural influence from both Britain and France. A little later in the 1920s and 30s, Montreal considered itself the second city to New York and much of our architecture reflects that. We also have some wonderful Art Deco buildings.
“The kind of productions I prefer to work on will always be the location-driven films that are willing to consider all kinds of possible alternatives.”
Barker prefers to showcase location photographs to producers and location managers ahead of time so that physical scouts can be narrowed down to the most suitable choices.
“What we want when we drive them back to the airport is for producers to be convinced that they can shoot their film here and that they feel sure that all the locations are here and there’s the infrastructure to support production,” he concludes.
White House Down opens in the UK on 6 September 2013.
(Main page still: Reiner Bajo/Columbia Pictures/Sony Entertainment)
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