When you think of Canada (which hopefully you do at least once in a while), do images of white sandy beaches, tropical temperatures, and palm trees come to mind? In October?
Apparently for the producers of the TV series, Designated Survivor, it does.
Now, Canada has developed a strong, stable film industry. It has long been favoured by American production companies because of the advantageous gap between the US and Canadian dollar.
It is common for Toronto to double as New York or Chicago in movies and TV shows … but Cuba?
Recently I was down at Scarborough Bluffs enjoying the balmy autumn weather with a hike along the top of the Bluffs, when I decided to drive down to the beach for a walk along the shore.
You notice I said “drive”. It is seriously frowned upon to climb or descend the Bluffs, and there is a hefty $5,000 fine if caught. By “caught” I mean that you end up getting stranded on the cliff and need Emergency Services to rescue you. That’s the best case scenario.
The worst case scenario is that you plunge to your death. It happens to some would-be adventurers – every year.
… but I digress.
Towards the far end of Bluffers Beach was a construction crew tearing down a wooden structure I’ve never seen before in this area. After watching them for a while, my curiosity got the best of me, and I finally approached a security guy to ask what they were doing.
After all, this is not normal activity on the beach.
It turns out they were tearing down a set used for the recent filming of an episode of Designated Survivor. I was supposedly standing on a beach in Cuba.
As I turned around to survey the beach with this new perspective in mind (which incredibly it never occurred to me to photograph), I guess I could see their point.
Last time I had been down there, the beach had been ravaged by flood waters, but on this day, it was a beautifully pristine beach with gentle blue water as far as I could see.
But what about the Bluffs dressed in their autumn finery? How could they be passed off as Cuba?
Well, according to Security Guy, it had something to do with camera positioning, angles, blah, blah, blah. Not to mention the fact that they had brought in potted tropical greenery to “plant” along the set.
I don’t know much about the TV show, except that the entire US government is wiped out in a terrorist attack during a State of the Union address, and it stars Kiefer “Mumbly-Mouth” Sutherland.
I now know however, that the TV show is shot entirely in Toronto in a former military facility in the north end of the city. Inside this studio, a replica of the West Wing has been built, including the Oval Office.
If you watch this show, and especially if you’ve seen the Cuban episode, I’d love to hear from you. Did the shores of Lake Ontario make a convincing beach in Cuba?
So the next time you are planning a tropical getaway, do like a big Hollywood producer, and think Canada.
… although if you are planning to come anytime soon, I suggest a good fleece-lined coat might be needed to accompany that swim suit.