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Total Recall remake shoots at UTSC

A UTSC student quickly snapped a shot of the set with her smartphone.

The futuristic set is gone, along with the movie crew, the extras in robot suits and Colin Farrell. But the shoot for the upcoming remake of Total Recall isn’t UTSC’s first movie close-up and likely won’t be its last.

Students gathered outside the Meeting Place on Monday hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the stars, which, in addition to Farrell include Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Ethan Hawke. Production crews had spent a week transforming the space into a science fiction train station, complete with a giant central statue of a dragon, fake departure gates and a big green screen on which computer generated effects will be added later. Hundreds of extras crowded into the space and actor Farrell, who plays the male lead, spent the day at the location.

The movie is a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster, based on a novelette by sci-fi master Phillip K. Dick. The original movie emphasized action and special effects, but also explored Dick’s themes of reality and illusion.

Grittier version

The new movie is a “reimagining” of the original and will stick more closely to the book, says production publicity manager Joe Everett. “This is a much grittier version. We want to bring the movie back to a sense of reality.”

The movie will also feature second-year UTSC management and finance student Raymond Cho. Cho was hanging around the shoot Monday hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars when a member of the production crew asked if he wanted to be an extra. At 5 feet 11 inches, Cho was just the right size for the robot suit.

It’s hot

Cho has spent the rest of the week in the suit (“It’s really hot,” he says), working 12-hour days on set at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He plays one of a group of about 40 robots and police officers getting ready to assault the building.

Cho says he’s seen Farrell and Biel, earned $11 an hour and had a lot of fun.

UTSC frequently hosts movie shoots over the summer, says Fran Wdowczyk, Acting Director, Retail and Conference Services. Location scouts keep databases with photos of potential locations, which include most of the buildings at UTSC. In the spring, Wdowczyk says she often fields three or four phone calls a day from scouts.

Productions that have shot here in the past include Resident Evil 4 (featuring the Meeting Place as well, this time dressed up as a prison), Men With Brooms, Animorphs and Cinderella Man.

No explosions

Production companies pay the university for the shoots, but  Wdowczyk says they have to be vetted to make sure they are reputable and that what they want to do won’t be too disruptive. One thing she makes sure of is that there will be no explosions, after an incident years ago in which dawn explosions interrupted a group trying to have morning prayers.

“No blowing up,” she says.


View photos of the Total Recall set.


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