We’re certainly living in interesting times in Ashcroft; in a good way, not in the “May you live in interesting times” way, with its implication of something dire on the horizon. I’m fortunate enough to have a front row seat for the goings-on in the Mascon parking lot directly across the street from my office, and it’s been fascinating to watch the replica of Zion United Church (or a portion of it, at least) go up piece by piece in preparation for the filming of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Even more fascinating has been watching the hustle and bustle on 4th Street. In the course of a normal weekday the street is fairly busy, but traffic drops off sharply on Saturdays, and on Sundays — particularly in the off-season — it’s largely tumbleweeds, apart from the odd student driver taking advantage of the lack of traffic and parked cars along the street to practice their parallel parking in preparation for their driver’s test.
This past Sunday afternoon I was at the office, and since the film crew had the day off I was expecting another quiet day. Well, goes to show how wrong you can be. If I hadn’t known better I would have said it was a Wednesday afternoon, there were so many vehicles and pedestrians going past. An enterprising street vendor selling hot drinks and pastries could have made a killing.
I was living in Ashcroft when An Unfinished Life filmed here in 2002, but wasn’t working downtown, so apart from the odd occasion when my son and I would come down to see what was happening I didn’t get a firsthand look at the behind the scenes work. I also didn’t have a chance to speak with the location manager, but this time round I’ve been able to meet with Kris Kadzielski a few times, and discuss what is happening, what will be happening, and when it will all take place.
“Fluid” is a word that has come up, as filming dates and plans change. We’re still a few days away from hearing the first cry of “Action!”, so I suspect there might well be some fluidity still to come.
On Tuesday this week I spoke again with Kris, not long after I met with another location manager: Matt Palmer of Radio Nowhere, which is producing a TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s classic novel The Stand. Even as The Twilight Zone is still filming here in town, Matt’s crew will start arriving to film several days’-worth of action, mostly on Cornwall Road and the Ashcroft Reserve, although there will be one night scene filmed in downtown Ashcroft; oddly enough, in more or less the same block that Twilight Zone is using. And it is a bit strange to have two major productions shooting here in such close proximity, after a relatively quiet few years on the film front. Perhaps it’s like buses: you wait ages for one to come along, and then two show up at once.
Not that I’m complaining. As someone who loves all things spooky, creepy, and macabre, it’s wonderful to see these shows filming in our town. The first magazine I ever subscribed to was Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, way back in the 1980s, and I still have every issue. The chance for our area to be associated — more than 60 years after it first aired — with what is one of the most iconic TV shows of all time is very satisfying. And Stephen King is (no pun intended) the king of horror, with The Stand one of his most admired works.
It’s not that long ago that a crew from The X-Files was in the area, filming for that show, and now we have two more genre classics shooting here. If I hear that the producers of The Walking Dead want to come here to shoot some scenes I’ll start to wonder if all these film people know something about our area that we don’t. Is Ashcroft actually Roswell North? I’ll let you ponder that, as the theme music from The Twilight Zone plays softly in the background.