Hollywood fare like Titanic and Dolores Claiborne have frequently used the city as a backdrop but lately Canadian filmmakers have taken back the streets from their Hollywood counterparts.
Thom Fitzgerald’s new film Cloudburst recently filmed there, Hobo with a Shotgun cast a lurid light on its streets and Charlie Zone is a thriller set against the city’s soft underbelly.
“There’s a lot going on in the city,” says native Nova Scotian Mike Clattenberg.
He should know. As the director of The Trailer Park Boys he made seven seasons of the show and two spinoff movies in “the Fax.”
His new film, Afghan Luke, starring Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines star Nick Stahl, was conceived in Halifax, but set in a place where “everything is true but the facts.”
A gonzo look at one reporter’s efforts to report on the truth of what is happening in Afghanistan, it’s a departure from the work the director is best known for.
“I loved the 10 years we did Trailer Park Boys,” says Clattenberg. “There was insane drunk lunacy; blowing up cars.
“All that stuff was really fun but it was really nice doing something entirely different, 80 per cent drama, 20 per cent insanity, whereas Trailer Park was the other way around,” he says.
While interiors and post production were done in Halifax, Clattenberg had to look further afield for exteriors.
“The first gigantic challenge was to shoot a film that is 90 per cent exteriors, set in Afghanistan, in Canada during the rainy season,” says Clattenberg.
“We eventually found Ashcroft and Cache Creek, British Columbia, about five hours from Vancouver.”
The setting mimicked Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous terrain so much the film’s technical advisor Wafi Gran gave it the thumbs up.
“He said the next time he pines for Afghanistan he’s just going to go there and hang out.
“He really thought that it looked like his home town,”
In one respect, however, the location was almost too authentic.
“I didn’t expect dust storms, but we had them,” Clattenberg says.
“It really worked for the film, but the most dangerous thing for our gear is sand.
“The guys had to work three and four hours after wrap every night cleaning the equipment because when the sand came up, we were like, ‘Let’s go. We have to shoot!’”