In Pickering, Ontario, there is a 90-acre backlot that features 30 storefronts. It is meant to provide backdrops for movies/TV and can be used to portray any setting from a rustic small town to sprawling urban streets.
Series such as Reacher, Superman & Lois, and Wednesday all feature scenes that were filmed here.
Why Are People Talking About Pickering, Ontario’s Massive Backlot?
The set is home to Canada's biggest backlot with an area of 90 acres offering options from a small rustic town to modern city streetshttps://t.co/OdOyLI09uX— The Whig-Standard (@WhigStandard) August 16, 2023
Recently, cinematographer Matt Aitia posted a TikTok video in which he showcases the backlot, voicing, “This is a fake town built for filming movies, TV shows, and commercials. Everything you see is completely fake… fake gas station, fake brick, fake ATM, fake bar and grill, fake dry cleaners, fake variety store, fake, fake, fake…”
Matt’s video has been viewed over 3 million times; many commenters pointed out similarities between the backlot and the setting of the 1998 film The Truman Show.
“Thought it was the set for the Truman show,” one person said.
Why Do Studios Sometimes Utilize Backlots, Rather Than Filming on Location?
The primary reason that film studios use backlots is the fact that doing so is often cheaper than filming on location. As Matt explains, ”It can be super costly to shut down a whole street for a film shoot. Backlots eliminate the need for permits, scheduling, and coordinating with property owners.
“They [backlots] also save time, as there’s less travel time between locations, allowing for more shooting hours each day.
“They’re also designed for versatility, enabling filmmakers to shoot at various locations without logistical and transportation headaches.”
Shooting on backlots is especially helpful when directing TV series, as episodes must be made on an especially tight schedule.
Movies You Didn’t Know Were Shot on Backlots
Depending on the skills of a film’s director and backlot constructors, a backlot can seem completely unrecognizable to an audience. Classic films such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Inception, and even Home Alone 2: Lost in New York were all filmed on backlots.
Interestingly, the TV series Friends, which takes place in New York City, was not filmed in the Big Apple at all; every scene was filmed in a studio. Similarly, the series Brooklyn Nine-Nine was actually shot in a Los Angeles-based studio.
On the flipside, plenty of classic films were shot primarily where they take place. Such films include Sleepless in Seattle, Dazed and Confused, and All the President’s Men. The fact that these films were shot on location gives them an authentic feel.