Saint Paul University Quietly Becomes A Choice Location For International TV and Movie Production.

Audrey Pridham

The popular U.S. TV series, CSI, recently filmed an episode on campus at Saint Paul University.  Image Supplied

The popular U.S. TV series, CSI, recently filmed an episode on campus at Saint Paul University. Image Supplied

U.S. TV hit series “CSI” is the latest international production to select the Old Ottawa East campus as an ideal location to “shoot” an episode.

A little know fact about Old Ottawa East is that the community is home to domestic and international movie and TV “shoots” that tend to be kept under wraps. Most recently at Saint Paul University back in June, the well-known US crime drama “CSI” use the campus’ interior to film some scenes in a future episode.

And this isn’t the first time that the Saint Paul campus has been scouted out and used as a film location. The university campus has been used for shoots for nearly 10-15 years, according to Yann-Alexandre Girard, Saint Paul’s coordinator for events and reservations office.

Girard explains that Saint Paul is involved with the Ottawa Film Office, which helps filmmakers find locations across the nations’ capital to shoot their productions. On a weekly basis, Girard works with production scouts, who are given tours of the potential sites and spaces that can be used for scene shooting on the campus. Girard said that filming on campus doesn’t affect class schedules at Saint Paul, and that production teams try to schedule filming times during the weekends or overnight.

“You have to balance the space requirements, production needs, and ensuring that whatever access we provide, everything is returned to normal the very next day”.

Girard says that for shoes like “CSI” that have scenes set in labs, Saint Paul’s library is normally the prime location that is used, as it contains a 360 degree glass bubble that really attracts production scouts. For other productions, the campus has some rooms that are idle for hospital scenes for TV shows or movies that are set in different time periods.

“Saint Paul has a little bit of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. The like the convenience, look and feel. IF you have movies [set] in the ’70s or ’80s some people like the [blend],” says Girard.

The latest “CSI” film shoot was the most extensive one the campus has seen, with nearly 80 to 100 people on site, including the cast, technical team, chefs, and more. Girard told The Maistreeter that international or American based shows like “CSI” want to choose smaller communities to film in because the rely on a lot on local production members and extras. It’s a win-win situation because it fosters local job creation within the community Girard explained.

However, filming at the campus isn’t widely publicized or known about. “I think people are not aware, and people within the vicinity were a bit surprised. That’s why [the production team] loves it, people can come in and out without attracting too much attention,” Girard said.

Girard also believes that Ottawa is beginning to develop its own niche for movies compared to larger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver which are used more regularly for filming. One good reason for this is that filming in Ottawa is more affordable than other larger centres.

While TV and film production is a somewhat new and growing cultural offering at Saint Paul, it is a natural by-product of the university’s longer-standing interest in international and cultural cinema generally. For example Saint Paul continues to co-host the Annual Peruvian Film Festival, as part of a cultural partnership with the Embassy of Peru in Ottawa. In addition, the university has been the site of many screening of innovative religious, cultural and social innovation themes.

So, the next time you happen to tune into the newest episode of “CSI”, be on the lookout for the backdrop of Saint Paul’s state-of-the-art library or one of its many retro-styled classrooms.

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