Meeting Jon Cassar
One Brilliant Director and a Heck of a Nice Guy
August 27th, 2009
So, as you guys know, incredible director Jon Cassar, is filming the FOX show ‘Fringe’ in my city, Vancouver. I attempted via Twitter to meet with him but he, understandably, didn’t want to meet a complete stranger somewhere. I get it, it was crazy to ask anyway. So I figure I’m done, it’s fine, no worries, life goes on.
So today I’m driving to IKEA, taking a different route than usual because I am SO tired of the traffic on the Trans Canada and I see the call sign for Fringe posted at Riverview Hospital. I pull in and seriously consider this. Too stalker? I don’t want to freak him out more than he probably already is. I figured what the heck, you only live once, right? It was around 1:00 p.m. and I decided to check it out. It was obvious with signage where the shoot was and the security guard actually let me drive right into the crew park. I didn’t know where else to go but I didn’t want to stay there, I’m obviously not crew. I turned around and went and parked up the hill from the location. It’s a big old building on the grounds of a hospital. I wondered around and saw blacked out windows with like a giant sheet on the outside. Must be going for night. I decided I needed a coffee and was kind of nervous about this whole thing so I started walking the sizeable grounds in search of a coffee place. Didn’t take too long for me to figure that that this facility was basically deserted. There weren't a lot of people around anywhere. I headed up the hill and asked a man sitting alone where I could find some coffee. He told me, and then asked me for money. I gave him the dollar I had in my pocket realizing something is not quite right here. I kept going and passed by a few more interesting folks. I soon realized this was a Psychiatric Hospital. Great. With a couple more encounters I secured my .65 cent cup of coffee but by this time I felt a little scared, to be honest. So, I made a beeline back to the location and saw a security guy in a van hanging out in the crew parking lot. I walked over and chatted with him because I didn’t want to be alone, go anywhere I shouldn’t, or get in the way at all. I chatted with him for quite a while, really, really nice guy. He confirmed for me that they were shooting interior today and I probably wasn’t going to see anything. I told him I wasn’t here for the stars of the show, but to meet the director. Although, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t complain if I ran into Josh Jackson – as long as I got to meet Mr. Cassar too. In fact, I think I saw him being brought to the set in the front seat of one of the transport vehicles. It may or may not have been him - he was wearing sunglasses.
I hung around for a while but it was hot and I felt like I’d bugged the security guy enough. I headed to IKEA. On the way back I started thinking, ‘Hey, they have to have a break sometime.’ The security guy said they would be working until the wee hours and it was about half way though, plus it was on my way home, so I went back. I walked back through the trailer village and saw one with ‘Director’ on it. Jackpot. I checked back in with my new security friend and he said they were doing dinner soon. I left him alone and went back by the ‘director’ trailer, cleared off some curb in some prickly bushes and sat down waiting. I didn’t have long to wait before I started seeing people coming by with food, it was dinner time. People coming by were nice, lots of extras and this one guy was jogging up the side of the trailers. He smiled at me and we laughed about him running to get lunch (I have since learned that this was Lance Reddick's stand-in). Saw lots of friendly people, but not the one I was looking for. After a while, the same running man came back and he started to chat with me. I told him who I was looking for and motioned at the trailer. He told me that he wasn’t in there, he was eating alone on the other side. He offered to check if he was still there so I followed him up to the end of the trailers. He leaned in and looked and I thought he was going to come back and say he wasn’t there, but then he looked again and waved me over, “He’s coming by.”
I leaned in and saw him right in front of me. I got his attention and he shook my hand. He still had dinner in his hand and I apologized for interrupting. I could tell he was on his way back to filming and I didn’t want to keep him. I told him I was a huge fan of his work on 24 and asked if I could take a picture. Buddy that brought me over offered to take one, so I handed over my camera and stood with Mr. Cassar. The guy taking the photo said he couldn’t see anything so I pushed the button hoping that the little red light would come on to illuminate, but I must have previously turned it off so I ended up with a great photo of my hand and both Mr. Cassar and I looking a little confused. Anyway, we got back ready and I started babbling about his work and his photography. The photo flashed and Mr. Cassar noticed “You’re like, shaking.” Well, yeah! :) I told him the truth, that I was excited and I’m just such a huge fan of his work. (photo on the right, obviously. I edited me out). About now, I realized my brain was gone. I knew I left something in the car! :) I had so many things I wanted to mention but my brain turned to goo-Should have made a list. Would I ever like this 3 minutes back again. We talked about Vancouver – he worked on ‘The Dead Zone’ right before 24 and now he’s back right after. He also said he was doing another show here coming up [that I won’t mention until he announces it] here in Vancouver. He asked my name and I semi-reluctantly told him. I already felt like I made a jerk of myself and now here I was in front of him. He remembered my last name – impressive. (I wish I could remember names like that, then I wouldn’t be calling my students the wrong thing in November-I had 2 guys in my choir this year that were Robert and Not-Robert.) I was going to ask him if it was for the restraining order, but didn’t want to give him any ideas. (I’d lose my other job if that happened). I told him how I found the shoot, he said he had considered tellling me a location (we emailed last week after he signed my guestbook, long story) but security is tight about that stuff (hmm...). I knew we were basically out of time so I asked him how he liked working on ‘Fringe’ and he said he enjoyed it. He mentioned that Anna (Torv) and Josh (Jackson) were great. I admitted that I don't even watch fringe. I was itching to ask him to sign my 24: Redemption DVD cover that I’ve been driving around with in the trunk of my car since I found out he was here, but I didn’t want to keep him and he had his hands full. I thanked him and let him go, I think he said they were behind and I certainly didn’t want to be responsible for keeping him any longer.
On the way out I passed by the guy that took the photo for us and brought me to Mr. Cassar. He waved and I waved back and thanked him.
I’ll post the location and photos from it after tomorrow, I know they are there until tomorrow night and I don’t want to draw a crowd and cause a problem.
Overall lesson – IKEA is good, taking a different route is even better. Mr. Cassar was extremely friendly and laid back. It was a little surreal standing there talking to him after seeing him in all the 24 Special Features and seeing and reading all these incredible things about him. I really wanted to see him ‘in action’, I have a friend that was an extra in Day 5 and said they loved watching him work, but this was incredible. If somehow I bump into him again, I would hope I would be able to speak intelligently about his work instead of losing my mind. :) If you're reading this, Mr. C, thank you for being so accommodating and I appreciate the time you gave me.
Photos of Riverview Shoot (all are click to enlarge):
Filming in Burnaby - Central Pool
Monday, August 31st, 2009
Found out about the shoot via Twitter and I really wanted to see Cassar in action and see the process in general. I didn't talk to him him again, just watched them film one scene. It was really cool to see the filming process - I'd never seen that before. It's easy to see why Jon Cassar gets the results he does. He even gave one of the actors a hug after the scene was finished.
The scene was Lance Reddick and another man talking on a park bench, 2 - 3 minutes of dialogue. At the end Reddick's character gets up and leaves, he looks angry. The other guy makes a phone call and they cut it.
After they finished, I was walking out and they drove Reddick right by me, window down, in one of the Ford Flex's they use to transport actors for the show. I was going to see about an autograph or something, but I don't know anything about him or Fringe, so I just smiled and he smiled back.
Again, click to enlarge.
Make up for Reddick and the other man, Cassar taking a photo
Cassar taking a photo of Reddick between takes
Cassar takling to the actors after a take
This is no zoom, he wandered right over and talked on the phone basically in front of me. I don't know if he saw me and didn't acknowledge or missed me completely. I was talking to a friendly extra at the time.
Reddick sitting down after they set everything up using his stand in. It was kind of weird, actually. They did all the measuring and stuff with the other guy and then brought the actors in. I guess that's how it always works, I just never knew before.
Preparing to shoot.
2 extras. There were lots, including a guy on a funky bike.
Shooting from the first angle I saw them at.
This extra is the one I talked to. Nice guy, and a musician, like me :)
Rolling! :) They had to do start again a couple of times due to noise, people talking around and a helicopter once. It must be fustrating for everyone when stuff gets interrupted like that.
Reddick's character stands to leave: He doesn't look happy.
Cropped image, same as before
Notice of filming - someone saw it and posted it on Twitter.