One of the reasons movie studios like to shoot here is that Montreal can be all things to all people. It can double as anywhere in the world, including Ancient Sparta, as in Zack Snyder’s 300, or a resplendent version of itself, as in Montrealer Deborah Chow’s first feature, The High Cost of Living, starring Scrubs star Zach Braff. Recently, Montreal Buzz spoke to both Zach and Zack about their experiences shooting in Montreal…
It’s no secret that Montreal is a great place to shoot movies, from the award-winning Barney’s Version and its Mordecai Richler precursor, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, to horror movies like Gothika and Orphan.
The 60-day shoot for Zack Snyder’s 300 was completely enacted on greenscreens in a studio housed in five disused train warehouses in Montreal’s Cité Multimedia. After shooting was completed, the footage was passed to Hybride, the 95-person, Quebec owned and operated visual-effects house also responsible for Sin City, which operates out of a refurbished mansion in the Laurentian village of St-Sauveur and doesn’t even have an office in Tinseltown.
“The quality of the crews and expertise is great in Montreal,” said Snyder when 300 hit screens in 2007. He recently said that though his most recent film, Sucker Punch, was shot in Vancouver, he would love to shoot in Montreal again someday. “We did a lot of shooting and a lot of the post-production in Montreal, and we had a lot of surreal experiences there. On the last day of shooting, we’d just finished our last shot of a bunch of dead Spartans lying there. And then okay, that’s it, it’s 6 in the morning, everyone’s sweating in their loincloths and we all walked outside into this big blizzard and had a snowball fight. It was pretty awesome.”
The High Cost of Living is set to hit screens in the next few weeks, after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last fall and more recently at the Montreal festival, the Rendez-vous du Cinema Quebecois. The emotionally-charged movie deals with the aftermath of a tragic drunk-driving accident, and stars Braff and Montreal-based actress Isabelle Blais.
“It was really fun to live in Montreal for a few weeks when we were shooting,” Braff explained. “I love the city and the chance to shoot here again was a big draw for me to accept the part.” (Braff also shot the Tony Goldwyn film The Last Kiss here in 2006). The actor mentions he especially liked wandering the city, looking for new favourite spots that would reveal themselves to him on his many long walks around town. “I especially love Old Montreal, walking the streets that feel so European, but have their own appeal. I love ducking into restaurants that feel secret only to me. I’d come back anytime- and we were shooting in the winter!”
Guest Blogger: Melora Koepke