Anne Richardson & Jeremy Pinard: The Evolution Of The Handmaid’s Tale

The fourth season of DGC Ontario Production The Handmaid’s Tale is now airing on Hulu and Crave. The latest season took us to a world outside of Gilead, thanks to the incredible work of Location Managers Anne Richardson and Jeremy Pinard who turned the GTHA into a dystopian future.

Ahead of this week’s finale, we caught up with Anne and Jeremy to discuss the creative decisions behind Season 4, working with first-time Director Elisabeth Moss and what locations they were most proud of.

Minor spoilers for Season 4 below!

With the shift in the story for Season 4 and the show opening up to new locations outside of Gilead, what type of creative decisions did you have to make in the early prep stages? 

Anne & Jeremy: Early in prep, we decided that we needed to show a vast difference between Gilead and the locations outside of Gilead, especially war-torn Chicago.
Anything outside of Gilead had a non-brutalist look. So, for example, when June goes to Longo’s Grocery in Toronto, she is overwhelmed by what she sees (lots of colourful products and choices, different wording on the food labels) compared to what she was used to seeing at the stark Gilead grocery store, Loaves and Fishes.

What was your most complicated or creative shoot in season 4, and why? 

We were most proud of all of the moving train/track and boat sequences in season 4, as these are always very challenging scenes to film. We were able to find a few amazing, never-before filmed locations for these scenes! Many of the Chicago scenes were filmed in Brantford, Ontario. These scenes required weeks of road closures and a huge amount of planning with the City. In the end, it was a wonderful and successful filming experience, and we are very grateful to the City of Brantford! Especially Kevin Dekok, Brantford’s Economic Development Officer.

Can you speak more about how collaborating with DGC Production Designer Elisabeth Williams and the entire Art Department allows you to combine your artistic and logistical capabilities?

We have been blessed to work with Elisabeth and her amazing team (including Art Director Martha Sparrow!) over the last three seasons. Elisabeth is open to any of our ideas and especially embraces “outside-of-the-box” thinking. For this last season, two locations that really required our artistic and logistical capabilities were: the Rotunda in the Kaneff Building (at UTM) becoming a courtroom in Toronto and the former Knitting Factory in Hamilton being transformed into a bombed-out YMCA in Chicago.

Most of the dystopian Chicago scenes were filmed in Brantford. However, to piece the entire sequence of scenes together, we also filmed in St. Catharines, Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Hamilton. Each of these cities was picked to best achieve Elisabeth Williams’ vision and because they were the best logistical options, giving us time to adequately prep, shoot, and wrap out.

Tell us about your working relationship with Elisabeth Moss as she transitioned to Directing episodes for the first time during Season 4? 

We both love working with Elisabeth Moss! Her work as an Actor and as a Director was incredibly impressive. She is extremely creative, organized and a pleasure to work with. Her dedication to the show is second to none!

What do you love about Toronto/GTHA/Ontario locations? 

As much as you think you have found and filmed every location, something new always pops up, if you have time to look for it!

1 comment

  1. Very interesting story on the hard work required for Locations. Congratulations to Anne and Jeremy and the whole Locations team for their hard work during filming.
    It’s nice to see the recognition that was given to the Locations Department on this shoot. People have to realize that sometimes Locations has a very difficult job arranging some very difficult scenes to film.
    Thank you for recognizing a hard working Locations team.
    It’s sometimes like this for all the Locations Departments throughout Ontario.
    Congratulations Anne and Jeremy and all the Locations teams involed in Film Production throughout Ontario and Canada.
    Rob Manson
    Locations Manager and Scout.

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