Manitoba’s film industry is booming at the moment, boasting the highest volume of productions that the province has seen in ten years. Along with these projects come Hollywood A-listers to whom we get to show off the hospitality, charm and beauty of our home.
While Winnipeg is accustomed to seeing trailers, lights and crews set up in the Exchange District or along Wellington Crescent, let’s shine the spotlight on five smaller cities and towns throughout southern Manitoba whose buildings are equally as picturesque and have served as backdrops on some major motion pictures.
As seen in: 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 stretch of Manitoba Avenue between Main and Eveline street can resemble the main street of any quintessential small town in America. 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), 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), 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.
Share your experience of a major motion picture shooting in your town.