Locations Locations Locations

Posted by – July 12, 2009

I was talking to a Dad at my son’s school. He’s a professional Toronto scout for movies, so I hit him up for location ideas. He seemed to be fond of construction sites, but I think they denote progress, what with constuction going on, which this world isn’t about. He suggested new condo sales offices for futuristic looking buildings. He also told me about Absolute.to, a database of locations around the city. Perhaps out of our budget though. It’s at http://dla.absolute.to/Login/Login.asp

A friend and I made a day of it and traveled around the city taking photos of suggested sites, and found sites of our own we thought were neat.

Here’s some photos…

Condo Sales Office (futuristic looking buildings):

This is a condo sales office across from the Toronto star building at the bottom of Yonge Street (just east).

This is what the office looks like on the inside (with reflection). How easy would it be to obtain permission to film inside this office?

This is the Will Alsop condo-ish thing (you’ve probably seen) (pic stolen from the Internet).

There are probably more interesting condo sales offices around the city.

Construction Sites: I’m not really sure about these, but maybe they appeal…

Parking lot / alley running parallel to King, just south, at Peter Street.

Construction at Bay and Adelaide.

Cloud Gardens (Bay / Adelaide):

The above construction site brought us to Cloud Gardens. It’s appealing for a few reasons. There’s many great angles / levels you can shoot from. There’s homeless people. It has a very interesting and unique look and feel.

A waterfall… kind of noisy (i.e. could be difficult to capture sound), but perhaps could be a display of opulence for wealthy business types. i.e. to have their own waterfall when water is scarce.

The squares of Cloud Gardens from a distance (taken from the other side of the construction site).

Behind Cloud Gardens:

This is a little alleyish enclosed parking lot directly behind cloud gardens. We were there on Sunday. There was only one car parked there, and were otherwise undisturbed (though there is a few security cameras in the area). Seemed a little derelict.

I like this tunnel that leads to it.

Downtown streets with no traffic:

While taking photos of the construction sites, I noticed how these downtown core streets had almost no traffic at all (i.e. streets of the future). They’re both off of Peter, one is one block north of king running east, and the 2nd is one block south of king running west. (first street is best, because there are no cars parked on it).

Gerrard Square (shopping mall at Gerrard and Pape):

Behind Gerrard Square has a wonderfully miserable atmosphere (among the locals, it’s nickname is “Gerrard Scare”)

I love these pipes.

Low income housing visible from behind Gerrard Square. This building is interesting for a few reasons: cell block like windows on the south side; in the shape of a triangle; 2nd floor connects directly to a pedestrian bridge that cross over tracks.

I have a thing for pedestrian bridges.

A shot of behind Gerrard Square from the pedestrian bridge (bridge could be useful for doing long shots). There’s that row of yellow pipes coming up from the other side of the wall.

There’s this great tunnel underneath Gerrard Square, that seems a lot like a roadway (except with no traffic). i.e. what the tunnels underneath the Gardiner at Yonge and at Bay might be like when there’s no cars.

This is a garden behind that low income housing. It’s pretty big. In 2040, I imagine city gardens will be quite popular as a means of survival.


I imagine bicycles are going to play a huge roll in the future, now that gas is almost nonexistent. I’m sure Benny is going to help out here. I saw a guy the other week riding through Dufferin Grove Park with a crazy amount of buckets somehow attached to his bike. It looked odd and made me think that bikes in the future will be very functional and haphazardly constructed. Here’s a few shots of the martin goodman bike trail around the don valley:

Bain Co-op:

Finally, arriving home, I was inspired by where I live (the Bain Co-op). We didn’t take too many photos (light was dying, and so was energy), but behind where I live seems neat. Perhaps people live in these garages? There’s very little traffic along this strip. I’m surprised there’s even a car parked here in the pic. I live on the 2nd floor, and have a balcony, so we could get higher up shots.

The Bain Co-op is interesting for more reasons — there’s courtyards, archways between buildings and plenty of wild looking gardens. It was built 100 years ago and the basement (storage area) has a dungeon like feel (high ceilings, lots of cob webs, exposed bricks, archways).

3 Comments on Locations Locations Locations

  1. Flick says:

    I like the condo sales offices because they’ll be gone after a while, and then it won’t look exactly like Toronto. Few viewers will be able to quite place or date them. They might even think you built them for the movie.

    The construction sites might be tricky for insurance – i.e. they are probably hard hat areas and lots of crazy conditions. I did shoot in a condemned village once, needed lots of insurance as a student production. Made things awesome though.

    If, through FX or angles or set dec, you could make the construction sites look abandoned, that would be great. Then it’s like progress stopped suddenly.

    The little parking lot courtyard would be good because traffic noise would be minimal – might be echoey though.

    The rule I heard from Colin Brunton (producer of Roadkill, Highway 61, and, shockingly, Little Mosque on the Prairie) was that you should spend like 20% of your budget, or something, on the first scene. Really draw the viewers into the world and convince them you know what you’re doing, and then the suspension of disbelief happens and you can get away with more. The example he used was “I love a man in uniform,” where there’s a big crowd scene with a helicopter landing in the first scene. Rest of the movie (apparently) is more like typical indie-movie, people talking to each other (and doing other rather less verbal things, apparently).

    The Toronto with spider webs shot looks like a good concept for that kind of knockout opener.

    For these locations you picked, the more claustrophobic ones seem more practical – less stuff to greek, paint over, or sci-fi-ize. And the vibe of the film seems darker and sadder if there’s less sky and open spaces…

  2. Jim says:

    Lots of great visual options and ideas here Sean, nice work!

    I’ve always loved the Cloud gardens. Good to know about the Bain garages… Sean, would you be able to get us permission to dress up one like a living space?

    The lack of cars on the street really does look eerie. Might be a good rule of thumb to try to not have any shots of cars at all except for Serina’s scene.

    I like the idea of an overgrown & leafy derelict look — it’ll give it a more distinct look, and a more Toronto one, than the traditional concrete and gutters sf.

    I think the impact of the first scene is really important — which is why we have Oscar venturing out into the 2040 world earlier on in this draft. Children of Men does it perfectly. Starts with a great walk through the city followed by cafe bombing — then the world’s so established it’s sustained when they take it mostly into rural (more timeless) areas.

  3. Sean says:

    Hi Jim,

    I’m putting out the word around the co-op that I’m looking for a garage to borrow.. I’ll keep you posted.


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