Saturday, May 28, 2005

Lights, cameras, and even action

Four Minutes 1
Despite the strong Canadian dollar and rumours that the new Hollywood North is somewhere in Eastern Europe, on a bright day you still can't walk through downtown Toronto without stumbling across a film set or three. I was very impressed with this when I first moved here, but my excitement dimmed when I realized that 1) there is almost never anything actually happening on sets when you walk past them -- 99% of shooting a film consists of tech people standing around or adjusting equipment, the filming of establishing shots of streetscapes, the recording of ambient sound, etc., and 2) it's often impossible to figure out what's being filmed, and if you do find a helpful crew member or security guard who will actually tell you, nine times out of ten it turns out to be a cereal commercial or something equally uninspiring.

So I was pleased to discover this scene when walking across U of T campus on Friday. The lawn to the west of University College was milling with dozens of extras dressed like Brits from the 1950s: men in suits, women in calico dresses, a little girl with her hair up in elaborate braids. There were tents, and a lot of black and orange balloons. And an actual scene was being shot, with actors speaking under boom microphones. A police officer told me the movie was called Four Minutes; I looked it up when I got home & learned that the actor at the centre of this shot is Jamie Machlachlan, who plays Roger Bannister, the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. The movie also stars Christopher Plummer, and is scheduled for release in 2006.


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