US shows filmed in does that work for the actors?

Haven and Eureka are filmed in Vancouver, Harper’s Island was filmed in Vancouver, five seasons of The X-Files were filmed in Vancouver as were the tangentially related series The Lone Gunmen and Millennium, Kingdom Hospital was filmed in Vancouver… And lots more shows, especially those set in the US northwest and northeast. (Apparently some shows are now being filmed in Toronto too, though glancing through the list on wiki I mostly recognize Canadian shows set in Canada, with a few exceptions like The Dresden Files and Kevin Hill)

How does this work for the actors, though? Most of them are US citizens. Do they need to get work visas? Where do they live while filming? How long does it take to film 13-24 episodes/year of a TV show, anyway?

My guess to the work Visa issues is that it depends on the country of origin of the studio making the picture. I’m assuming this based on years worth of watching hockey. If you’re playing 20 road games in the US, but your NHL club is based out of Ottawa or Toronto, you need a Canadian work permit. If you suddenly get traded to an American club, your paycheques are coming from a different country, and your paperwork needs to reflect that.

You just get a work visa.

Production companies have the acquisition of work visas down to a science. Remember, this is an issue in Hollywood too, which is crawling with Canadian, British, and Australian actors, among others.

In some cases with NHL trades from a Canadian team to an American team they have to sit out a few games until the paperwork is approved. I think that mostly applies to guys from Europe.

In general it takes a week to film 1 TV episode.

My guess is that the production companies or studios or whatever it is that do this all the time have it down to a science - they know all the forms to fill out and all the hoops to jump through and all the departments to contact.

“Supernatural” is also shot in Vancouver, and they make jokes about in in the show sometimes (the one that stands out in my memory is when they were on a backlot that was supposed to be in LA, and the boys comment on how cold it was; “Yeah, it’s like Canadian cold out here today.” :smiley: ) They have also complained that they shoot in Canada in the summer, and they are always in three layers of cotton and flannel every day and just dying from the heat.

Of course half the reason why they’re up there in the first place is that the Canadian government has put a lot of effort into trying to attract movie projects. I’m sure they’ve made it so the visa process is essentially automatic for the film industry.

Well, that is a tragic wardrobe decision. I have some recommendations on how to correct this problem, if they are interested.


The Supernatural cast’s solution to the housing issue was apparently to buy a house in Vancouver and live together.

I should also add the Vancouver library stood in for part of Caprica’s capital in BSG

It appears that, for certain categories of foreign workers, a work visa is not required at all. See this page from Citizenship and Immigration Canada; and in reference to the OP’s question, see especially “Performing Artists” at about the middle of the page.

I second that heartily! All shirtless, all the time! Well, Bobby can wear a t-shirt.

Not true. Mike Fisher–sighs–was just traded from Ottawa to Nashville, and since he never played for an American club before, he’s just working out visa issues now.

The page says that people performing in movies and TV shows don’t qualify for this visa exception, which I guess answers my question.

My husband watches Fringe, and from the bits and bobs I’ve scene of it, the main cast is good but the extras and guest players are usually TERRIBLE. I’m wondering if this is because it’s harder to get people to answer casting calls when the show is shot in Vancouver? Either because of travel (not a big deal I’d imagine) or visa purposes for a one-episode gig?

I know in the case of Eureka, they cast as many extras, etc in Vancouver. Out of the main cast, Erika Cerra (Jo) and Neil Grayston (Fargo) both live in Vancouver to start with…I believe Nial Matter (Zane) is also Canadian. Colin Ferguson (Carter) actually has Canadian citizenship, though he’s also obtained US citizenship and actually lives in LA. He’s stated he keeps an apartment in Vancouver to use during filming. The writers/producers have commented they have to limit their use of US-based guest stars due to transportation and housing costs.

Why not film it in Oregon? Just a dumb question I know, but…

It does not sound right for so many actors, and sports players to so easily go to Canada. It does not make sense.

Canada does not allow felons, people convicted of DUI, etc. to enter their country… and we all know such illegal background is kinda common among Hollywood or sports types.

Vancouver has made an effort to become a filmmaking center.

I don’t know about their immigration laws, but allowing a few “stars” from Down South still provides many jobs for other actors & the crews.

Some US states have film commissions to lure production companies away from LA (or Vancouver.) The Texas Film Commission did good work for years but has had some recent setbacks.

Over the years, my wife has been a fan of a number of shows filmed in Vancouver (The X-Files, The Sentinel, Supernatural, Stargate, BSG, Eureka, etc.). She always seems to spot guest actors / extras who have appeared in other shows she watches (“Hey, that guy was in Stargate!”). It does seem like the same actors keep popping up over and over.

Another name for Spotting the Canadian Actor: Six Degrees of Callum Keith Rennie.

This might be a good time to mention ‘Made in Canada’, a TV series that followed the fortunes of Pyramid Productions, a fictional production company in the Canadian film and television industry best known for their hit ‘Prom Night at Horny High’ and as the series unfolds, producers of the highly successful series ‘The Sword of Damacles’ (sic) and ‘Beaver Creek’. Like ‘Slings and Arrows’, this is an exquisite inside job, based on all sorts of incidents that are too real to be true…

First episode of the first season can be found here