Header photo: Tales from the Loop
As we continue to #stayhome, we find ourselves quarantined with our friends Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, iTunes and You Tube. Since you've binged watched all your favourites by now, the next time you catch yourself scrolling mindlessly through the table of contents, see if you can find something that features your favourite star: Manitoba.
It's no secret that Manitoba is home to a booming film industry. The province's serene beauty, distinct architecture and simple charm (combined with talented producers and crews) have served as the backdrop to many popular productions. Winnipeg is accustomed to the 'lights, camera, action' of Hollywood in their backyard (check out Tourism Winnipeg's blog post about Winnipeg attractions on the big screen), but there are many rural towns that have also gotten the taste of fame. Here's just a few rural locations that have been used as backdrops, and the tv series / films that go along with them:
(Editors's note: we can't guarantee all these films and tv series are currently available on your streaming services).
Morden, Central region
As seen in: Tales from the Loop (2020), a new TV series - touted to be the next Stranger Things - is now available on Amazon Prime. It's a sci-fi series about folks in rural Ohio who live above "The Loop", an experimental physics machine that explores the mysteries of the universe, making them experience life in a way previously thought to only exist in a science fiction world.
Key location: Tales from the Loop did a lot of filming in Winnipeg (try to recognize a few locations), but it also filmed a lot the town of Morden. Businesses along in the downtown district were transformed to the 1950s and 1980s to mimic that small-town Midwest feel.
Fun facts: Tales from the Loop was adapted from the retro-futuristic work of Swedish painter Simon Stålenhag. Popular US composer Phillip Glass scores a portion of the 8 episodes with his distinctive, minimalist style, which certainly adds to the haunting vibe of the show.
As seen in: Bruden of Truth (CBC tv crime drama, in it's third season, starring Kristin Kreuk and local boy Peter Mooney), Bravetown (2015 drama with Josh Duhamel), Silent Night (2012 American slasher flick), New in Town (2009 rom-com starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr.)
Key location: Directors love Selkirk because the corner of Manitoba Avenue and Eveline Street can resemble the main street of any quintessential small town. The set-worthy Merchant Hotel is often a focal point.
Fun facts: Silent Night, a story about a killer Santa Claus, is set during the holiday season but filming took place in spring. At one point in mid-April, 40 Santa Clauses strolled down Selkirk’s business district. The movie is set in the fictional town of Cryer, but near the end of the film a shot of the water tower shows the word Selkirk.
As seen in: A Dog’s Purpose (2017 comedy-drama staring Dennis Quaid, available on Netflix), Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011 teen horror flick), Goon (2011 a hockey comedy staring Seann William Scott)
Key location: The architecturally stunning Brandon Mental House Centre perched on the city’s north hill is a go-to set location. The abandoned main building regularly doubles as a sanitorium, an asylum or other eerie locales, as it did in Wrong Turn 4.
Proud fact: Manitoba’s Westman region was the true star of A Dog’s Purpose. The film was primarily shot in Brandon, but also set up in the town of Virden and outside Minnedosa.
As seen in: The Lookout (2007 bank heist drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels), The Stone Angel (2007 drama starring Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page)
Key location: the 1902 A.E. Hill and Company Store is the cornerstone of Hartney’s (pop. 450) main drag. With striking Romanesque Revival architecture, the building is now the Hart-Cam Museum but has doubled as a bank in The Lookout and Currie’s General Store in The Stone Angel.
Sad fact: East Railway Street had a collection of 11 historic buildings that contributed to the town’s Midwestern charm, but five of those buildings were demolished in 2017 after heavy snowfall collapsed one of the roofs.
As seen in: The Lazarus Project (2008 thriller starring the late Paul Walker), Maneater (2007 tv movie staring Gary Busey)
Key location: the former Dominion Post Office (now an art gallery) and the land titles office (now town hall) are two of a notable collection of historic buildings along main street that are constructed of the limestone for which the town is famous for.
Interesting fact: the mottled, cream-coloured limestone is locally harvested and synonymous with architecture in Manitoba. Stonewall’s historic post office is the province’s foremost example of Prairie School architecture, which is commonly found throughout Midwest US states and popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright.
As seen in: Heaven is for Real (2014 drama starring Greg Kinnear, available on Netflix), Mother’s Day (2010 horror film starring Rebecca De Mornay)
Key location: Beausejour District Hospital was a lead set in Heaven is for Real, a story about a young boy who, during emergency surgery, has a near-death experience.
Fun fact: The director of Heaven is for Real was quoted saying that Manitoba’s infinite skies were the ideal backdrop for the celestial feature.
For a full list of recent movies and TV series shot in the province, Manitoba Film and Music provides this list on their website.