The new Sandra Bullock movie is a reminder of just how many feature films, commercials and TV shows are shot in and around Surrey City Hall.
The downtown site is a popular one for film companies.
“Before COVID, I’d say we were getting two or three (film shoots) per month (at city hall-area locations), but right now it’s a lot less there,” said James Monk, the city’s filming manager.
“We just had a tremendous amount of filming in Surrey, generally,” he added, “and we’re seeing some film crews return here, in the proximity of city hall – that includes city hall itself, the plaza outside and City Centre Library.”
Bullock stars in “The Unforgivable,” the trailer for which shows her and other actors in a stairway scene at city hall, at the 1:52 mark.
The drama, which has Bullock playing a released prisoner who “re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past,” will have a limited theatrical release Nov. 24 and debut on Netflix two weeks later.
“They filmed at the library, on the plaza and inside city hall, all three,” Monk explained. “They used several locations, too, including the second floor of the library, in the atrium at city hall and also the staircase going up to city hall, in the city manager’s boardroom and one or two other offices. That was all done right before COVID, in early March of 2020.
“This area,” Monk added, “it’s very recognizable and it’s iconic, the architecture. People notice it a lot in shows and movies, but I’d say that city hall represents just one or two per cent of the permits I issue. The majority (of filming) happens in other places in Surrey – Cloverdale gets a lot, along 176th Street there, and quite a few of our parks get used, too.”
The long list of movies and TV shows filmed at Surrey City Hall and surrounding sites includes “Supergirl,” “The Good Doctor,” “Altered Carbon” (in May 2019), “Turner & Hooch” (August 2020), “Batwoman” (March 2021), “Skyscraper” (October 2017), “Prison Break” (June 2016), “The 100,” “The Flash,” “A Million Little Things,” “The Unforgivable (March 2020), “Arrow,” “Travelers” (April 2016) and “Every Breath You Take” (January 2020).
The trailer for the @netflix drama #TheUnforgivable starring Sandra Bullock was released today.— City of Surrey (@CityofSurrey) October 26, 2021
The production was filmed in various locations around BC. Can you spot Surrey City Hall in the trailer?
This film is rated R and not suitable for children.https://t.co/QvwHDn8hlT pic.twitter.com/1svMKqtLl0
Movie location scouts can download and view 187 photos of city hall on the “Filming in Surrey” website (surrey.ca), from all angles.
The website also features a new interactive map showing movies, TV shows and ads that have been filmed in Surrey.
“It’s still a work in progress – not all of the feature films are on there yet,” Monk noted. “It’s something we just launched, a soft launch, and we’re still developing the map. In some cases we haven’t yet cleared photos with the productions, and that can take some time, months. With ‘Skyscraper,’ we just got some photos approved so we can put that one up there.”
The Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action thriller “was a big one” at city hall, Monk said, as was “Altered Carbon.”
City hall has also seen “pretty much all of the superhero shows come through, at one time or another – in some cases, several times,” he noted.
Ad shoots have include Lululemon and Infiniti car company.
“They had these projections all over the library, so when the car was in motion, driving on the plaza, these massive projections went onto the City Centre Library,” Monk explained. “That was a multi-million-dollar production, and it was really fascinating to be involved in that one.”
TV show “The Good Doctor” is “a huge one that we’ve had here over the past few years,” Monk added, “and they’ve established this as a location, of a hospital wing in the show, so they come back to shoot every so often. In the time they’ve been filming here, they’ve actually landed two helicopters. The city hall atrium is played as a hospital area as well, and they had a gala event filmed in there once – a really fancy one, for the show.”
Surrey is a favoured film location due its wide variety of “looks,” Monk reasoned.
“The great thing about filming in Surrey is that we have so many parks, so many streets, so many different facilities like ice arenas – they’ve been used a few times this year, and the rec centres, pools, the parks,” he said. “We had ‘Batwoman’ filming here, and I think they exclusively filmed in the parkade (at city hall), as I recall. We’ve had productions come here and only film in the parkade there – it has that look they’re looking for.”