WATCH: ‘Hollywood North’ is breathing life back into the closed St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox. A film crew of 150 is shooting an eight-part miniseries that will air on CBC, and several locals are getting a hand in the production. Skye Ryan Reports.
Darkened hallways and rooms left still by St. Joseph’s closure last October are once again buzzing with life, as the Comox hospital becomes a set for a new mini-series shooting in the Comox Valley.
“It’s so much different than a set,” said Director Robert Cooper. “You just can’t achieve this level of authenticity on a set.”
The once bustling hospital is now playing the part of hospitals in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal with a crew of 150 people after the Vancouver Island North Film Commission shopped it around to filmmakers as a possible location for future projects.
“We set out on a journey to market it to our industry and we’ve been getting some really great responses,” said Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Film Commission. “And here we are with our first project.”
The mini-series called “Unspeakable” is also providing first jobs in the industry for new graduates of the North Island College’s TV and Film crew training program.
“It’s made me fall in love with this and made me want to do this for a living,” said Jackie Hall, a North Island College grad from Campbell River.
“It’s a little different I’ve gotta say but it’s also very interesting,” said Qualicum Beach resident and North Island College grad Kelli Symonds. “There’s so many different wings and different great shots to use.”
“Unspeakable” is an 8-part miniseries that will air on CBC, chronicling Canada’s tainted blood scandal.
It was a national health crisis in the early 1980’s that left about 2,000 Canadians infected with HIV from tainted blood products and as many as 30,000 more infected with Hepatitis C.
The project’s Director Robert Cooper is is a hemophiliac himself and brings a unique personal story to this.
“I got hep C from tainted blood but I was able to avoid HIV,” said Cooper. “In some ways, I’ve come out of it as one of the lucky ones and certainly other people were certainly much less fortunate than I am.”
Filming on “Unspeakable” is set to wrap in the Comox Valley on May 9th and is slated to air on CBC in January 2019.