Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the fairest city in Canada to shoot a movie in these days?
Ask famed film director Tarsem Singh and my guess is he would almost certainly say Montreal, seeing as how he shot his last two films – the Greek gods war epic Immortals and the first of two Snow White films being released this year, Mirror Mirror – back-to-back here. You can’t spend that much time in Montreal and not be taken in by its charms.
Shot during the summer of 2011, Mirror Mirror, a modern and decidedly fantastical take on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, stars fresh face Lily Collins as Snow White herself, current it-boy Armie Hammer as her prince and the one and only Julia Roberts as the evil queen. Beyond these new and familiar faces though, the film also showcases a great deal of Montreal talent.
Henry Fong (www.henryfong.ca) is a concept artist who started working in Montreal’s other booming entertainment industry, video games. It was good word-of-mouth that led to his work on first Immortals and then Mirror Mirror. "That’s usually how it works in the field," Fong explains to me. "You work with a group of people and if they like you, they call you back when they’re on another project."
During a pivotal scene in the film, Roberts works her magic using string marionettes. Chris Godziuk, one half of puppet theatre company Panadream Theatre, was brought on to make them come alive for the Oscar-winning actress. "I’ve seen her in so many movies that I feel like I know her," he explains of the surreal meeting. "When I saw her for the first time and when I heard her speak, she was just so familiar. It was a trip, y’know?"
Meanwhile, Montreal actress Nadia Verrucci, who runs a local theatre company called In Your Face Entertainment, ended up getting a speaking part when she was only expecting to end up in the background. She hopes this is a new era for the Montreal film industry. "For years, people have been asking how everything has been so slow, saying they haven’t auditioned for any films recently," she divulges. "Now, Steven Spielberg is coming [with Robopocalypse] and they’re doing the second Smurfs movie here. This is all really great."
Do you hear that Hollywood? Vous nous manquez.