On location filming Season 2 in British Columbia
By Lie Shia Ong
It’s a cold, rainy, gray day in Surrey, British Columbia—about 40 minutes south east of Vancouver. The streets around what looks like to be an abandoned warehouse are starting to get more and more crowded as cars start to zip by with the arrival of the afternoon commute. But if you look a little closer, there are hints the vacant mall isn’t really empty. There are trailers, lights, power strips and electrical cords lining the building. Most people don’t know that while they’re driving past the never-finished mall, they are actually passing the site of a Steven Spielberg production.
The cast and crew of the hit sci-fi show, “Falling Skies” are the first film group to use the unfinished mall as one of their main sets for Season 2. The filming of the show took place in Toronto in Season 1, but moved to the Vancouver-area for its follow-up season, which is about to air its 2-hour premiere on Sunday, June 17 on TNT.
Season 1 ended in a cliffhanger, with Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) crawling onto a space ship, and when the new season picks up, three months have passed and a lot of things have happened.
Parallel Universe talked with the cast, crew and the new show runner, Remi Aubuchon, about what’s ahead for the Mason family and the 2nd Mass as they continue fighting the alien invasion of the skitters on earth.
What can fans expect in Season 2 as far as storylines and from the characters?
Remi Aubuchon: We’ve been able to take the great work from the first season and kind of spin it up and speed ball it and really amp up the energy this season. I don’t think I’d be spoiling [anything] to say that the 2nd Mass right from the very start is on the run at the beginning of our show. They’re mobile. They’re in vehicles and they are being pursued pretty strongly by the alien enemies, which gives a certain urgency and energy to this season. There’s not a lot of time for them to stop and smell the flowers if any of them still exist, and really have a chance to contemplate what life might be about, or what life could have been like. Everything has to be taken in stolen moments. There’s going to be many challenges, many unexpected turns, left turns for the 2nd Mass during the course of this season. We’ll really bring the challenges to our characters, especially main character Tom Mason.
Noah Wyle (Tom Mason): In a lot of ways we have a much stronger season than last year. First and foremost because we don’t have to dedicate a lot of screen time to the exposition of what this world is, what’s happened and who these characters are. We’re able to start off right where we left off. It’s made a much more efficient kind of storytelling. We’ve gotten into a lot of deeper character issues and a lot more interesting conflict.
Drew Roy (Hal): Things will be changed [for the entire 2nd Mass]. The way the season ended last year we brought the attack to them and made it really look like we put a nice hard blow to them, but after all that, they retaliated, and we’ve been kind of on the run the whole time trying to get our footing. We really lost a lot of people and we’ve set ourselves back in every way possible. So, when we pick up, things are a little darker, a little more bleak, and we’re tying to decide what our next steps are going to be. Not having our dad around has changed our dynamic. We’re trying to fill those shoes. I feel like I have to take care of [Ben] and Matt. And [Ben] feels like he has to take care of Matt. And we have different opinions on how to do that. And the Weaver character has kind of become a father figure in a way, but he’s still very military, so we kind of find ourselves in this orphaned state that really makes for a great kick-off for our characters when the first couple of characters unwind.
Connor Jessup [Ben]: My character has changed quite a bit from last season. Last season most of the scenes I had were with other members of my family. This year when we take off after the three-month time gap, I’m a fighter now. I spent the last several months fighting skitters with everyone else. I’m stronger and tougher. The alien kind-of takeover you saw last season is working its mysterious magic on me, and I’m tough and I never miss a shot and stuff like that. Sometimes my relationship with Hal can rub off the wrong way. He’s just so drastically different, but still keeping elements of that character that people will be familiar with.
Maxim Knight (Matt): In the first season I was very much a little boy and still am, but I think my character is starting to become more mature and learn more about the military and I’m trying to help out with the rest of the 2nd Mass. I did get a gun this season and that’s pretty exciting.
I think since my dad is gone; I have a lot more freedom. Now with him gone, I’m able to do more stuff. I’m exploring more things like carrying a gun since he’s not around.
Will Patton (Weaver): I think Weaver has become—he has learned a lot from Tom, and I think we’ve both been guiding each other on how to take care of these people. I think in some ways, some of the things about Tom have become more like Weaver, and some of the things about Weaver have become more like Tom. I’ve had to learn to deal more with people than soldiers.
Moon Bloodgood (Anne Glass): I guess for me being someone who lost her family and is a pediatrician, I’m evolving into a better doctor even though I’m not a surgeon. [You’ll see the] relationship between Tom and me evolve—that romantic side and my relationship to his family and my relationship to Lourdes, and just being somewhat involved in the medical part with all the different characters.
I definitely think the science fiction element… [has] been kicked up a notch [in Season 2]. It’s entirely taken off and it’s so much more dynamic than it was last year. It was all about the Mason family and now it’s more about the Mason family and their relationship to these aliens and there’s these other aliens. It’s a lot more adventurous. You’re fighting a lot more mysteries to kind of solve.
Colin Cunningham (Pope): I think the show’s darker. Edgier. Dirtier. I think you will definitely see a different tone than last season. The first season we set everything up. This season, boom, it just goes into it. There’s a dirtiness, there’s an edginess, it’s a little more intense.
Does this upcoming season feel like a bigger production than the last?
Colin Cunningham (Pope): You’ll show up and there will be 300 extras. Busses have been flipped over and set on fire. The street’s all torn up. Trees have been torn down, and for the next mile that’s all you see, so it’s mammoth the scale of the show. This is not your everyday TV show. This is not “Saved by the Bell.” It’s gigantic. It’s mammoth in scope in subject matter and everything, so there’s more than one occasion when we all go, ‘holy crap. This is not your typical procedural television show.’ It’s pretty epic that way.
Peter Shinkoda (Dai): The way we reintroduce [Noah Wyle] into things—it changes everything. As you know in the season finale he walked onto the ship, he’s got a world of new knowledge and potential twist for the second season. It really just turns the show on its side—the return of Noah Wyle and the information he has accessed through the aliens, I think that’s the biggest thing.
What has it been like filming in Vancouver?
Remi Aubuchon: The weather. One thing that Vancouver has that not many people are aware of this unless they’ve shot up here—is that the locations are incredibly versatile. There are so many places up here and I don’t think anybody who’s really—at least the viewing audience is unaware about how much we can get just by driving, 20, 30 kilometers. The things just change. It’s wonderful.
Colin Cunningham (Pope): I think it’s harder. It’s all great and awesome, but we’re working a lot of nights. It’s darker. It’s colder. We shot in the summer time in Toronto, so I think things take a lot more time. If it rains, we have to put up a rain cover … that said, I think we’re going to have a season that looks even better than the first one because of all these natural elements. And also, when you work in these elements, yeah, you’re tired and you’re cold, but you’re tired and cold in the world that is “Falling Skies,” so it all plays out. This is like being in Maui—having a roof over our heads, usually it’s very uncomfortable, it’s very cold and that also makes its way on film, so in many ways it’ll be better.
Noah Wyle (Tom Mason): We shot through the winter. We shot through the rain. We shot in the snow. We all got sick and we went to work and this has been physically the most demanding work I’ve ever done. [But] I find Vancouver to be a more beautiful city to work in.
What’s it like being a part of a Steven Spielberg production, and how involved is he in the day-to-day operations?
Remi Aubucon: I think he’s one of the busiest people ever … however, at the beginning of the season, he was very involved. We had many conversations. A lot of talks. He has great ideas. He’s been on the phone, a couple times in person. Sometimes e-mails. … They’re often things like, “Wow, I didn’t even think about that.” I guess that’s why he’s Steven Spielberg. Just recently he’s watched all the early cuts of the show and given us some feedback on them. He’s a fan of the show, which is always good to have. You want your boss to be a fan of the show. He’s been very encouraging and involved as he can be. Here’s a man who doesn’t need to be involved if he doesn’t want to, but he definitely is.
Sarah Sanguin Carter (Maggie): He has incredible heart. He knows how to tell the story of the American family… the hero. And obviously he’s the king of alien storytelling. I think that’s forgotten in a lot of these interviews: That this show is an extension of Spielberg’s heart and his particular kind of storytelling. That’s a joy to be a part of.
Is it hard to turn off thinking about the end of the world and aliens after you’re done filming?
Colin Cunningham (Pope): I think for me it’s weird, you put in so many hours. You put in 80, 100 hours in a week so going home is kind of this emptiness. That’s what feels weird. Being at home feels strange because you’re so used to living in a post-apocalyptic world.
Mpho Koaho (Anthony): I very much feel immersed in this as if ‘what if this really happened tomorrow?’ type of deal. I think all of us think what would happen if we really kind of lived in this world. That’s the fun of doing a show of this subject matter. It’s the kind of things I thought about when I was a kid even until now. Aliens. The end of the world type stuff. I’m sure everybody has thought about that at some point. We just get to live it on TV. That’s the fun.
The two-hour Season 2 premiere of “Falling Skies” airs Sunday, June 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.