“Arrow” needed diverse locations and environments, since the storytelling alternates between various urban settings and an island in the South China Sea where Oliver’s character finds himself marooned.
Vancouver fit the bill.
“There are so many places to shoot and you have so much available to you,” says exec producer Andrew Kreisberg. “There really wasn’t anywhere else to shoot the show.”
The show’s take on the superhero material arguably shades toward the dark side, so Kreisberg was looking for a city that would capture the grittiness and urban realism that would speak to the material.
“Being in the Northwest,” Kreisberg says, “Vancouver, in an odd way, comes closest to a real life analog for Star City.” So, he says, “there was some serendipity as far as the source material was concerned.”
Serendipitous too was the mischievous Vancouver rain, known for making guest appearances whenever it pleases. “We were shooting the other day and we had a very moody scene and it was like the most beautiful rain outside,” Kreisberg says. “It wasn’t written in the script but it became part of the show so that was very cool.”
According to producer Joseph Patrick Finn, although Vancouver’s rain can occasionally be a cause for re-shoots, it also adds to the atmosphere: “It provides a dramatic backdrop to this story, which is meant to be kind of mysterious at times.”
“A lot of shows shoot in Vancouver because the light is so different than anywhere else,” says production designer Richard Hudolin.
Apparently the overcast weather also makes people look good. “The cloud cover adds to the cinematographer’s bag of tricks — and literally, makes our actors look a little better than they would in different climates,” he jokes.
Because “Arrow” requires a whole universe to be brought to life it was essential to the storytelling that the production can move around a diverse array of locations quickly. “It’s a large urban beautiful city but it’s not geographically large and so you can cover a lot of ground and you can move around the city in a way where it gives you a lot of possibilities,” Finn says.
Royal Roads U. was used for the exteriors of Oliver’s mansion, while Wycliffe Park stands in for the seemingly deserted island. “We used a lot of CGI to erase the multi-million-dollar waterfront homes,” confesses Kreisberg. Not wanting to copy the tropical island on “Lost,” Wycliffe Park allowed for a more cold, windswept look with sparse vegetation.
“It’s a wonderful place to create an interesting backdrop to interesting stories,” Finn says. “I think that Vancouver lends itself to telling mythological stories and highlights those stories in a beautiful way.”
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