Trent Ernst, Editor
Rino Pace is not a name that most people would recognize. As Location Manager, he’s only slightly more famous then the folks who drive the catering trucks, his name buried somewhere in the credits after all the big names have run.
But his name is on some very big name movies, from The Big Year to Inception, to Hot Tub Time Machine, to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to I Robot to X-Men 2.
The connection between all these movies is they were all filmed, at least in part, in Canada. Pace himself is a Canadian resident, born in Fernie and now living in North Vancouver. He’s worked as a produce and even as an actor on Da Vinci’s Inquest, but is best known as a location manager. His job is to find the locations that are needed for the movie and make sure that they are able to film in an area. The location manager is intimately involved in the creation of the movie, and gets involved in the initial meetings with the producer, director and production designer. “We get to look at where we can shoot in the province and how we can shoot it. Does it have the right look for what the director is looking for? We get involved when everyone shows up.”
For Seventh Son, Pace looked all across North America for many of the important scenes. In addition to shooting in Vancouver (“We have built some very big sets, loosely based on a 14th or 15th century road show across Asia, and we’re really trying to develop that look. It’s going through some very interesting geography to tell us we’re moving as we try and get to Pendle Mountain, which is where the witches come from. So we have a series of locations that are moving us forward.”
Kinuseo Falls is an important scene in the movie. “As the boggart is chasing our actors they jump off the cliffs into the river. They’re fighting with the boggart. It can come out of anywhere, and it’s fairly large—about a 20 or 25 foot monster. It comes out of the river, and they’re fighting it and go over the waterfall….”
Pace says that finding the right location didn’t seem like such a big deal to begin with, but they would up looking at nearly every single waterfall in North America, though ultimately only two made the short list: Palouse Falls in Washington and Kinuseo. “We wanted to shoot this in British Columbia somewhere. We knew that it had to be a couple hundred feet high, and at least fifty to a hundred feet wide. It had to have a sharp drop. We knew it was going to play in our schedule once the snow was gone, as we had to make sure it played into our schedule. We looked at Kinuseo right off the bat, thought it had the right look.”
They put the scene on the backburner, as there were more pressing scenes to film, and how tough could it be to find a waterfall? But with production entering into the last few weeks on the movie, they still hadn’t made a decision. “As it evolved, we began to look at other places. We literally looked at all the waterfalls in North America. There was a bunch of variables we had to look at: Where we could shoot helicopter, and where we could shoot them low. We needed a place where we could access both the bottom and the top. And as you begin to look at those details, there aren’t a lot of places that have all those things.”
“We looked at pictures, we talked to Clint Fraser at the Film Commission in Northern BC numerous times. He was always accommodating and got us everything we needed to have the best educated view of the falls without actually coming up here.”
There were two parts to this whole thing: the digital effects and, of course, the actors at the bottom. We had to come up here with the director and the creative people to physically stand on site and ask if this would work for us. We came up here one Saturday. It was fantastic. We’re working Monday to Friday 18 hours days. We had to fly up here, then take a jetboat to take nine or ten of us up here. It was an interesting day to come up here. I remember coming around the corner and seeing the waterfall for the first time. Everyone was pretty impressed. It was high water, we came up at the peak of high water. We stood out there. The mist was so heavy we were soaked. We just loved the idea of the actor coming up and out of the waterfall.”
Pace says that was a concern, too with the high water. “We had to have the actor come out of the water, so we had to consider his safety and health and welfare with wetsuit, drysuit, hair and makeup and costume. We tried to downsize and streamline the process, because there just wasn’t much space down there. But we also weren’t able to get back to get what we needed.”
But when all was said and done, they were able to wrap up shooting in one day. “Everything went perfectly that day. Sun was setting fairly late that day. We were here as late as we could be. Dusk was creeping up on us when we left. And we flew to Alberta the next morning.”
Principle shooting on the film wrapped up shortly after they finished shooting in Tumbler Ridge. But they still needed to shoot more scenes above the falls where a digital actor would fight a digital creature in a real river. So Pace was one of a smaller crew who returned to the falls on a shoot overseen by visual effects wizard John Dykstra (Star Wars). They weren’t sure they’d return to Kinuseo to film the special effects shots, but they found they were faced with the same problem as before. “It was something we needed to discuss once we had finished shooting principal. All the same issues, all the same questions came up. We could have shot it anywhere we wanted. Now that we shot the bottom, we had to consider the look of the waterfall, and how we’d match the visual effects plates. It couldn’t be the grand canyon. Luckily the water was still running high. We got a bit nervous that the water was going to dribble out.”
Pace says that it’s locations like Kinuseo that are driving the film industry in BC. “We have all the tax incentives, but we’re getting films coming up this way specifically for locations. We’re able to showcase other parts of the province now. It’s nice, because we had people from all over the world on the crew. And we’re able to showcase this part of the world, and they’ll go on to other projects, filming commercials, filming featured and they’ll say “I know where we can shoot… We forget that people who come up from Los Angeles are shooting all over the world. Images is shooting all over the world. Images is what they’re all about, and it’s good to put this image into their memory bank. In the end these films will be seen by millions of people. We get to show our stuff off. It is great when you come into areas like this, and you get to see the rest of the province. We all know the economics, we all know the numbers the industry spends, and everyone up here is interested in making it happen, from Clint Fraser at the Northern BC Film Commission, to BC Parks, who introduced us to the Treaty 8 First Nations. We were treated exceptionally well by them. Without that group encouraging us plus stick handling us through all the political issues, we wouldn’t be here. They made it happen. It was fantastic.”
The Seventh Son is scheduled to be released in October of next year.