TV series Shogun wraps filming in Ucluelet
Just a month after serving as a setting for the Netflix thriller Lou, the west coast community of Ucluelet, B.C., is in front of the lens again, this time standing in for Japan for the miniseries Shogun.
”They searched the world to do this show,” says producer Erin Smith. “It had several starts and stops at several places and the timing was right for us and they brought it here.”
Portions of the 10-episode series, which will air on the FX Network, were shot near the Tofino airport as well as Wya Point over two days last week. The filming was done at the start of the production’s schedule.
“We wanted to open the show with the beautiful scenery of the Wya Point Beach in Ucluelet,” Smith says. “It’s a very beautiful place. We have a lot of cast and crew from Japan that were quite fascinated and blown away by the resemblance of that spot to Japan.”
The miniseries is based on a novel by James Clavell, which was published in 1975 and sold more than 30 million copies. It was then made into a miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, which ran on NBC in 1980.
Smith says 10-15 cast members and 10 crew members are from Japan and are part of the 340 members that were in town for the filming. Smith says the cast numbers were scaled back due to the challenges of filming during the pandemic.
“You have to bring double the amount of trucks and trailers,” Smith says. “Capacity is 50 per cent in all the hair and makeup trailers. Every single actor and background performer has to be in a special wig, of the hairstyle of the time. Just the mass amount of people that it takes to get that ready in the morning and undone at the end of the day.”
She says accommodations were booked months ago and crewmembers filled hotels in Ucluelet and Tofino but also as far away as Port Alberni and Parksville because of how busy the area is with other visitors. She says the September dates were chosen because they were more flexible for hotels.
Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel says he appreciates the timing of the production and sees it as a windfall for accommodation providers.
“I’m glad to see this one’s come on more of the shoulder season,” he says. “The last one [Lou] that came to town was right in the middle of August. It seemed like the town was very respectful and kudos to that production company, both of them actually, they really try to make it easy for everyone.”
While there were no requirements for locals to be extras in the production, Smith says there were local crew employed for security, transportation and production support.
One of those who missed the opportunity to work on the production but did get hired on to Lou is Christie Ball, who works in first-aid and craft services.
“We’re starting to see more and more productions come out to the area,” Ball says. “I think the word is out that the locations are outstanding obviously. I think the area has the accommodation and food service capacity as well for the large film crews.”
North Island Film commissioner Joan Miller says Shogun and Lou both boosted local employment.
“Ucluelet has been a bit of a hotspot for us this summer,” Miller says. “They were using local production but they were also hiring our trained people so we have really expanded our local crew database.”
While the production went smoothly, Smith says there were some complications in getting all of the film vehicles to the area.
“It was a big challenge getting all these trucks here,” she says. “There was a lot of road closures we had to battle with, the timing of it all, the ferries, the ferry reservations, there was a lot of logistics involved.”
Smith says the production has moved into the sound stages and backlots of Vancouver where the rest of the filming will occur, but crews may return to the west coast of the island towards the end of the production schedule.
The productions are expected to take to television screens in late 2022 or early 2023.