ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating the 4 alumni credited on Victoria-filmed miniseries 'Under the Bridge'

By VFS, on June 26, 2024

POV: You're watching a fire movie/series with a familiar backdrop. Mountains, forests, lakes… it must be British Columbia. And most of the time – IT IS! Typically, this is where the BC connection ends. Most projects filmed in Hollywood North are set elsewhere (i.e. Seattle) but in the case of the Disney+ series Under the Bridge – we're not only exposed to beautiful Victoria, but the series takes place in Victoria and is about an actual crime that took place in Victoria.

This dynamic is rare indeed and to add to the excitement, we're ecstatic to report that 4 Vancouver Film School alumni were lucky enough to have worked on this chilling true crime thriller.

4 VFS alumni were credited on Under the Bridge, now streaming on Disney+.

Starring Emmy-nominee Riley Keough (Daisy Jones & the Six, The Lodge) and Oscar-nominee Lily Gladstone (you may remember Lily from Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon, co-starring VFS Acting alum Jillian Dion!), Under the Bridge follows the true story of fourteen-year-old Reena Virk who tragically never returned home after attending a party in 1997. We don't want to spoil the ending but, suffice it to say, the events that transpired are truly shocking.

The 4 VFS alumni credited on Under the Bridge come from our Film Production, Acting for Film & Television / Acting Essentials, and Foundation Visual Art & Design programs:

  • Julian Chapdelaine (Foundation Visual Art & Design; Film Production)
  • Laurence Fortin Gagnon (Acting Essentials; Acting for Film & Television)
  • Michael Leeming (Film Production)
  • Jordan Rivera (Film Production)
Under the Bridge is just another example of an incredible production filmed right here in BC!

These alumni have been quite busy since graduating from VFS! With over 50 credits on IMDb, Julian has established himself in the camera and electrical department, working on series like The Good Doctor, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Upload. Meanwhile, Laurence has excelled in the art department on more than 20 titles, including The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Good Doctor, and Michael has crushed it in visual effects on over 70 projects like Blockbuster, Prison Break, and Supergirl. Finally, Jordan has made it as a Production Coordinator on noteworthy titles including The Man in the High Castle and Family Law.

A huge congratulations to our talented alumni who continually raise the bar for excellence in the entertainment industry. We are beyond proud of your achievement on Under the Bridge.



What specific roles or contributions did each of the four Vancouver Film School alumni have in the production of Under the Bridge?

  • Julian Chapdelaine – Head Camera Operator
  • Laurence Fortin Gagnon – Props
  • Michael Leeming – Visual Effects Supervisor
  • Jordan Rivera – First Assistant Production Coordinator

How does Under the Bridge portray the cultural and social environment of Victoria, BC, in relation to the true crime story of Reena Virk?
Under the Bridge uses the setting of Victoria, BC, not just as a backdrop, but as an integral part of the story. By portraying the actual location where the crime took place, the series aims to provide an authentic depiction of the community and the social dynamics of the time.
Victoria in the late 1990s, where the true crime story of Reena Virk unfolded, was a place where issues like teenage bullying, social exclusion, and the challenges faced by immigrants and minority communities were prominent. The series addresses these themes, showcasing how Reena Virk's background and the social environment contributed to the tragic events. The portrayal of Victoria, with its specific cultural and social nuances, helps in understanding the context of the crime, making the narrative more impactful and grounded in reality.

What challenges or unique experiences did the production team face while filming Under the Bridge in Victoria, and how did they overcome them?
Filming a series based on a real-life crime in its actual location can present unique challenges and experiences:

  • Authenticity and Sensitivity: Capturing the true essence of Victoria while being sensitive to the real-life tragedy would have been crucial. The production team would need to balance authenticity with respect for the individuals and community affected by the crime. This might involve consulting with locals and possibly even family members or acquaintances of Reena Virk to ensure a respectful portrayal.
  • Logistical Issues: Filming on location in Victoria, particularly in areas that are populated or have historical significance, can present logistical challenges. The production team would need to secure permits, manage crowd control, and navigate any restrictions on filming in certain areas. They would have to work closely with local authorities and residents to minimize disruption and ensure smooth operations.
  • Weather and Environment: The natural environment and weather conditions in Victoria could impact filming schedules. The team would need to adapt to changing weather conditions and ensure continuity in scenes that might be affected by external elements.

To overcome these challenges, the production team likely employed a combination of meticulous planning, local collaboration, and flexibility in their approach. Engaging with the local community, being prepared for environmental factors, and maintaining a respectful narrative would have been key strategies in successfully filming Under the Bridge.


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