Morden transformed into 1950s Ohio for Amazon Prime production

They didn't bring the robots with Felix the Cat faces — they might be coming to Morden in July.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/04/2019 (1444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They didn’t bring the robots with Felix the Cat faces — they might be coming to Morden in July.

But the Amazon Prime TV production did import 40 dump trucks of snow, bought and hired locally, and transformed Morden’s downtown into 1950s Ohio, for the shooting of the cult classic book, Tales from the Loop.

Lots of places host movie or television shoots these days but this TV series has the potential to be a mega-hit and is drawing comparisons to the Netflix sensation, Stranger Things.

The new series is based on the work of Swedish artist, Simon Stalenhag, known for his science fiction-themed paintings and writings in rural settings. It is a mix of robots and dinosaurs that one internet post described only partly tongue-in-cheek as “retro-futuristic.”

The series stars Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Hall, who has appeared in The Prestige, Frost/Nixon, and Iron Man 3.

The production company shot footage in Morden earlier this week for the first five episodes. It will be back again in May to shoot episodes that are set in the 1980s, and again in July for another time period.

That is the information gleaned from local people, who are getting a kick out of having the TV crew in town. Manitoba Film and Music could provide few details, saying the production people “are being very tight-lipped.”

“It’s been amazing. It’s trending on Facebook and all over the internet,” said Cheryl Link, office manager at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden.

For all of its fieldstone houses and a well-preserved downtown with brick storefronts, it’s surprising that this is believed to be the first movie or TV shoot in Morden.

The production team visited 50 small towns but chose Morden for those features and for its old clock tower in the centre of town, which still needs to be wound manually.

Businesses took on new storefronts for the shoot. Morklers, which sells an eclectic mix of party supplies, computers, and office equipment, was transformed into a Westinghouse appliances store.

The Chinese restaurant, Lam’s Lucky Restaurant, was transformed into an old-fashioned movie theatre with a marquee advertising the 1953 Ingmar Bergman film, Summer with Monika. (Movie summary: a pair of teenagers meet one summer day, start a reckless affair and abandon their families to be with one another.)

And Jeff Sit’s Velocity Motorsport was made into an antique store on one side, and a bakery on the other. Even though the cast never set foot inside Sit’s store, it was filled with baked items made at a local shop. The preparation took several weeks.

Sit believes the TV company must have advertised locally for the vintage 1950s cars and trucks that are used in the shoot because more than 20 showed up, including old Chevys and Belairs.

Coming from car buffs, the vehicles were not only spotless but polished to a sheen. But they were for winter scenes so the crew went to work with a pail of dirty water.

“They went around with a paint roller and they would dip it into the dirty water and they would flick it to get the right look,” Sit said.

The shoot brought many people to Morden, including some former residents such as Winnipeg makeup artist Kim Wright, who grew up in Morden. The parking lot of the Access Event Centre in Morden became a village of trailers for a week.

It was a great economic boost for the small city, said Candace Olafson, executive director of the Morden Chamber of Commerce.

“Residents and business owners were very excited and receptive,” she said. “They’re hiring local people for traffic and pedestrian control, staying in hotels, gassing up, eating in our restaurants, buying materials for construction, renting warehouses, and renting some downtown businesses for filming,” she said.

Birds Hill Provincial Park is reported to be another location, as well as some parts of Winnipeg.

It isn’t known when Tales from the Loop will air, but the most optimistic guess is fall or early winter, crew members told people in Morden.

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