Category Archives: The Company You Keep
Published Feburary 22, 2013 on Vancouver is Awesome
Kokanee’s The Movie Out Here hits theatres next Friday. It’s a B.C. version of Hot Tub Time Machine meets Old School populated with your favourite characters from the beer commercials like the Sasquatch, Kokanee Ranger and Glacier Girls plus a new buddy ranger duo Glacier and Fresh. Robin Nielsen, Viv Leacock and James Wallis co-star in the movie as old friends who band together to fight a land developer in the ski town of Fernie as itself. I met the Kokanee Ranger and his successors Glacier and Fresh and interviewed Nielsen and Leacock on set at Alouette Lake (before the two-week Fernie shoot), while crew filmed Wallis watching Glacier Girls change bikini tops on the beach for a Kokanee commercial within the movie.
Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep is Tonight’s Gala Presentation at Toronto International Film Festival
Robert Redford’s political thriller The Company You Keep gets a Toronto International Film Festival gala presentation tonight at Roy Thomson Hall. Filmed last fall in the Vancouver area, The Company You Keep stars Redford as widowed civil rights lawyer Jim Grant, who’s really a former Weather Underground militant and fugitive wanted for over thirty years for a bank robbery and murder of a guard. Shia LaBeouf is the young reporter Ben Shepard who exposes Grant’s secret, forcing him to go on the run to find the one person who can clear his name before he’s caught by the FBI in a nation-wide manhunt.
The official TIFF trailer opens with these typed words: “In 1969 a group of radical anti-war protestors began a campaign of bombings on American soil. They were called the “Weather Underground”. Some were sent to prison. A few … vanished…until today.” Then we see fugitive Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) arrested at a gas station. Ben Shepard (LaBeouf), a reporter for a struggling local newspaper, watches this on TV — Breaking News: Sharon Solarz Arrested. Jim Grant reads about the arrest in the newspaper — Weather Underground Most Wanted Caught — at home with his young daughter (Jackie Evancho, an 11-year-old finalist on America’s Got Talent): “What’s wrong? You look weird.” Grant: “I’m fine, honey. ” With help from an old college friend now FBI agent (Anna Kendrick), Shepard begins to focus on Grant, catching up with him at a shoot filmed in Gastown. Shepard: “Mr. Grant, I’m just trying to put the pieces together.” Grant: “I don’t have time for this…”
But Grant decides to run. He tells his daughter: “We’re not going to school. We’re gonna go on a little trip.” Wearing a baseball cap, Grant (Redford) and his daughter (Evancho) check into the remodeled Hotel Georgia complex downtown made to look like a Manhattan hotel with prop NY cabs coming and going.
The trailer continues with more typed words: “One reporter. Has discovered a secret. That can connect them all. And reveal the truth.” Shepard: “I don’t think he’s running away. I think he’s trying to clear his name.”
The biggest and most public scenes in Vancouver took place at the west entrance to the Vancouver Art Gallery (the former Vancouver Court House) with Grant (Redford) scrummed by media as he gets into a car driven by Chris Cooper. Reporter Shepard (LaBeouf) is there but at a remove from the scrum.
Kokanee and Alliance Films invited (social) media to visit them on location deep in Golden Ears Park yesterday for the upcoming feature film The Movie Out Here. They lured us out with the promise of seeing a real Sasquatch (he has his own VIP trailer) but we saw a “fake” one instead filming a “fake” Kokanee commercial within the real movie — it has the working title Big Hairy Movie. No one seemed to mind about the fake Sasquatch though because of the Glacier Girls changing their bikini tops on camera and the Kokanee Ranger (John Novak) looking on.
The Movie Out Here is more than an extended Kokanee beer commercial, although I’m sure that would be entertaining too. But it’s no serious drama. Think Caddyshack not Schindler’s List. Or “Hot Tub Time Machine meets Old School” as one marketing manager put it. Robin Nielsen, Viv Leacock and James Wallis co-star as old friends who band together to fight a land developer in the ski town of Fernie in Kokanee country (the movie will film in Fernie before it wraps mid-month). Two of the buddies came out to set to chat with us even though they weren’t in the Kokanee commercial scenes.
Glacier Girls changing bikini tops on camera for fake commercial and real movie.
Electric Playground interviews stars Robin Nielsen and Viv Leocock on the set at Alouette Lake.
Robin Nielsen (grand nephew of Leslie Nielsen), who plays the straight man Adam, a Toronto lawyer, in this buddy movie.
Viv Leocock who plays Jason.
Winners of the Live Auditions for new Kokanee Rangers.
A Kokanee beer truck on the beach for the fake Kokanee commercial.
Published November 18, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
Earlier this week I wrote about the hundreds of University of British Columbia students who turned out to see 26-year-old Transformers star Shia LaBeouf film The Company You Keep on campus last month. Well when the production moved downtown it wasn’t LaBeouf who commanded a fan following but 75-year-old Robert Redford. Dressed-for-sucess women from thirty-something to sixty-something giggled like schoolgirls watching Redford do scenes at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I had to shush two particularly excited older ladies on Hornby whose chattering would be picked up by the boom mikes across the street and loved doing it. Downtown men who stopped to watch the Hollywood legend on Tuesday didn’t seem quite as giddy but I did overhear some calling friends to say they’d just seen The Sundance Kid in action.
It wasn’t just passersby doing some stargazing but big news media too, situated as they were just round the corner at the Occupy Vancouver encampment where fire officials and city workers conducted yet another safety inspection. Photos of Robert Redford filming at the Vancouver Art Gallery appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, CBC Arts and many other outlets, making mention of his proximity to the month-old tent city, where one protester had to be dragged out of traffic by police that morning after sitting in a West Georgia street lane and refusing to move (I photographed this too).
Some expected Robert Redford to make some kind of statement about Occupy Vancouver but although Redford is a well-known political activist his causes tend to be more environmental in nature, after four decades of environmental advocacy. And besides, the man is here to work: both directing and starring in a political thriller about a former Weather Underground militant played by Redford wanted by the FBI for 30 years, who must go on the run when Shia LaBeouf’s ambitious reporter exposes his true identity.
Redford’s scenes at the Vancouver Art Gallery looked like a media scrum for the exposed former Weather Underground radical, with Chris Cooper driving the car Redford gets into and Shia LaBeouf there as a reporter but standing at a remove from the actual scrum.
The Company You Keep first occupied the west side of the Vancouver Art Gallery while Occupy Vancouver occupied the front two weeks ago. Several people — @UBCRobsonSquare, @Imohux, @darrylamiller, @davidgcami, @uuruson and @BenMcKinnon96 — tweeted photos of Robert Redford, a prop Detroit TV news satellite truck and Chris Cooper in exterior day scenes as well as a night scene at the back of the Gallery on Robson Street.
That weekend The Company You Keep set up at Vancouver City Hall for a five-day shoot, starting Sunday, November 6th.
Published November 14, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
The Company You Keep is a political thriller starring Robert Redford as a former Weather Underground militant wanted for a Bank of Michigan robbery by the FBI for 30 years, who must go on the run when Shia LaBeouf’s young, ambitious reporter exposes his true identity. It’s an odd pairing of Hollywood icon and Sundance Film Festival founder Redford with LaBeouf, best known for the blockbuster Transformers franchise and his off-set antics as LaBrat.
Robert Redford, who directs the film based on a book by Neil Gordon, added a who’s who of older Hollywood to his cast: Susan Sarandon and Julie Christie are his ex-Weather Underground associates; Sam Elliot is Julie Christie’s boss in the marijuana trade, Richard Jenkins is a college professor linked to the former radicals; and Brendan Gleeson is the original cop who investigated the bank robbery. I don’t know who Nick Nolte plays but I hope it’s a grizzled ex-Weather Underground associate. Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci and Stephen Root are also in the cast but it’s not known who they’re playing either.
Anna Kendrick is the young FBI agent and former flame of LaBeouf’s reporter who gives him information about the bank robbery and Terrence Howard is the senior FBI agent heading up the task force to take down the Weather Underground fugitives in a nation-wide manhunt. Jackie Evancho (an 11-year-old finalist on America’s Got Talent) plays Redford’s daughter, who doesn’t know anything about her Dad’s radical past.
I first heard about The Company You Keep coming to Vancouver on July 19th from Deadline Hollywood and immediately tweeted on #yvrshoots that Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf would be in town in September. A Twitter pal told me that day that The Company You Keep was already scouting a location near Pitt Lake.
I couldn’t resist photographing the student recording the scene on his iPad above. Although I just missed Redford, I did get to see them do more takes of the tracking shot of LaBeouf and Marling walking down the Mall.
Afterward there was one final scene by the Koerner Library before the light went of Shia LaBeouf in a graduation gown, this one directed by Redford.
On Friday, UBC students spotted trucks and crew at the Museum of Anthropology setting up for an overnight shoot as students in Halloween costumes rocked the campus. Whatever they filmed at the museum didn’t take place in the big hall with the totem poles but at a photography exhibition in an east wing.
The Company You Keep finally went downtown on Halloween, filming interior scenes with Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf at an apartment above a tattoo parlour near Powell and Columbia in Gastown. This proved to be a big pap opportunity as LaBeouf and his visiting girlfriend Karolyn Pho shared kisses between scenes. I waited to see them film the exterior scenes the following day which turned out to be crazy-busy with four different productions filming in the downtown area. Early in the morning on November 1st someone spotted Redford directing a scene with LaBeouf apparently reporting outside the Segal Business School turned Bank of Michigan bank. By the time I got there, Redford and crew had moved on to filming in an alley off Carrall Street and then at Main and Alexander. Around lunchtime I finally caught the key scene of Redford getting into his Volvo station wagaon while LaBeouf chases after him for a quote.
Update: The Company You Keep had such a great open shoot of Robert Redford in a media scrum at the Vancouver Art Gallery the day after I uploaded this blogpost that I’m going to write a second one this week.