New photos show post-apocalyptic downtown Nanaimo amid ‘The Last of Us’ filming

New photos show post-apocalyptic downtown Nanaimo amid 'The Last of Us' filming
Photos: Leon Drzewiecki/NYLA Fresh Thread
Downtown Nanaimo has been transformed into a TV series set.

A Nanaimo business owner is sharing new behind-the-scenes pictures of “The Last of Us” production, which is currently filming near his store in the downtown core.

NYLA Fresh Thread owner Leon Drzewiecki shared his excitement on social media, with the pictures taken on his clothing store’s rooftop over the weekend showing the area completely transformed into a post-apocalyptic America. His Facebook and Instagram posts have already amassed thousands of likes.

“Just the transformation of (Commercial Street) overall has been wonderful. It’s been really kind of neat to see if hour to hour, day to day, week to week,” Drzewiecki told CHEK News Monday, the same day cameras are set to roll in the Harbour City.

When the City of Nanaimo announced upcoming street closures, officials kept quiet on what production was rolling into town. Eventually, word got out that it was “The Last of Us,” an Emmy-winning TV show based on the video game series of the same name. 

“They’ve got a post-apocalyptic theme going on down here with the grass growing up through the concrete, derelict cars, there’s stuff covered in moss. It’s quite interesting to see how they changed the storefronts as well,” said Drzewiecki.

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(Photo: Leon Drzewiecki/NYLA Fresh Thread) 

The series stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey and is set 20 years into a mass fungal infection-caused pandemic, which sees zombie-like creatures run wild.

Season one, which aired last January on HBO, was filmed in Alberta, where it generated an estimated $182 million for that province. The following spring, the B.C. government shared that the second season would be filmed locally.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Drzewiecki.

“Filming has started the past couple days, and today is one of the big filming days for sure. The production and crews are quite tight, and they’re holding traffic so traffic isn’t driving in the background of the shots they’re doing.”

The Vancouver Island North Film Commission is thrilled.

“We fared the strikes pretty well but it was a slower year, 2024 is looking excellent. We have several productions filming right now on the Island. We have more coming up,” regional production services manager Brandon Lepine told CHEK News last month.

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(Photo: Leon Drzewiecki/NYLA Fresh Thread)

Drzewiecki says it’s nice to see people buzzing about what’s happening close to his store, which is located at 206 Commercial St. and is staying open even amid filming.

He has noticed a decrease in sales in recent weeks, however.

“But that’s only a short-term thing,” said Drzewiecki.

“In the long-term, I think this is a really good thing for us. Looking in the future, people coming down and seeing where their favourite scenes were filmed and checking out the stores in the background,” he added.

Speaking with CHEK News last month, he said there had been talks that businesses impacted by the ongoing production would be getting some sort of compensation.

“Downtown, for the most part, is closed, but there are a lot of businesses still open down here and appreciate the extra business,” he said. “There’s a bunch of stores closed for production, so they’re paid to close those storefronts.”

Many are particularly eager to see the Hollywood stars, adds Drzewiecki, who lauds the show as “amazing” after having watched it with his children.

“There’s lots going on, a lot of people milling about trying to catch a glimpse of Pedro Pascal, which is kinda neat,” he added. “It’s a great show and I’m very excited to have the second season being filmed here in downtown Nanaimo.”

Production in the Vancouver Island city is expected to wrap up on May 31. Crews are also filming in Vancouver.

(The third and final phase of closures will take over Commercial Street between Bastion Street and Terminal Avenue, beginning in early- to mid May and ending in mid- to late May, according to the City of Nanaimo.)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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