At a special open meeting of Ashcroft council on Wednesday, Jan. 22, council heard a presentation from Kris Kadzielski, the location manager for Gravity Productions, which is in the process of filming an episode of the CBS TV series The Twilight Zone in Ashcroft.
Kadzielski talked about where the production would be filming and what that would entail until filming wraps, which is anticipated to be around Feb. 10, with takedown after that. He explained that the “hero street”, or main filming location, would be the 100-block of 4th Street between Railway and Brink, and that qualified traffic control personnel would be on hand to direct vehicle traffic away from that block during filming. Pedestrian traffic would be allowed while filming was not taking place, with filming being done in two- to three-minute blocks.
He also noted that there will be exterior filming of the Central Café on Railway, with some traffic control needed during that time. He said that the crew hoped to allow pedestrian access on the east side of the street throughout filming, with some restrictions on the west side while scenes are being shot.
The company has made arrangements with local businesses in Ashcroft and Cache Creek to supply goods and services throughout the film shoot, and is hiring as many locals as possible for security work and to be on the crew. They are also looking for locals to work as extras, with Kadzielski stating that one interior scene to be filmed at Zion United Church will require approximately 80 background extras.
The exterior of Zion United is being constructed in the parking lot beside the Mascon building on 4th Street. When asked by a member of the public why it was necessary to construct a replica, Kadzielski said that for the purposes of the plot, the church needed to be beside a bank and a café. He showed a rendering of what the Mascon building will look like when the exterior is dressed to make the building a bank, and said that green screen work adjacent to the church set would be used to re-create the exterior of the Central.
This is the first major production to film within the Village of Ashcroft since An Unfinished Life in 2002. Victoria Weller, Thompson-Nicola Regional District film commissioner, says that there will probably eventually be 175 crew members in town. She points out that not only will the production have a huge economic impact on Ashcroft and Cache Creek at a traditionally quiet time of year for businesses, there will be little “leakage”, meaning money spent in local businesses and paid to local people, businesses, and organizations stays in the community rather than being funnelled back to a corporate head office.
Kadzielski said that the goal of the company was to “leave the place better than they found it.” He added “We want to leave people happy, and have this a place we can come back to.”
He also said that the company wanted to leave behind something tangible for the Village of Ashcroft when filming is complete.
Some of the requirements for the production include a blackout of all buildings in the shooting area around 4th Street for one scene, a street bonfire, and an interior scene at Zion during the blackout which will require the use of candles. Kadzielski stressed that all safety precautions will be taken, including six special effects people on site and fire prevention equipment. Ashcroft Fire Chief Josh White will review the plans and decide if members and equipment from the fire department also need to be on scene.
The Twilight Zone is currently filming its second season, after being revived in 2019 by Oscar-winning writer/director/actor Jordan Peele, who is the show’s executive producer and narrator. The series takes its title and inspiration from the classic series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran from 1959 to 1964. That series spawned TV revivals in 1985 and 2002, as well as a feature film in 1983.
Details of the titles and casts of six of the 10 episodes in the second season were released by CBS earlier this month, but the episode filming in Ashcroft—“A Small Town”—was not one of them. The series will be airing on CBS later this year.
After the presentation and discussion, council passed a motion supporting the application by Gravity Productions for filming within Ashcroft.