DGC Ontario Production Firestarter, the latest theatrical adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel about a pyrokinetic young girl on the run from a shadowy government agency, recently hit theatres and is currently streaming on Peacock.
Firestarter‘s Location Manager Ingrid Fielden gives Wider Lens readers a behind-the-scenes look at how she found the perfect locations to update this 1980s classic into a modern-day horror, and how an ideal setting can help turn up the heat on special effects.
How did you become the Location Manager on Firestarter?
Line Producer Karen Harnish called me, as she got my name from Production Manager Michelle Koerssen. We had worked previously together in 2018 on Run This Town.
How did the original 1984 Firestarter film inspire the locations for this reboot?
The original, while great at the time, certainly needed an update. Special effects have advanced considerably in the past 35 years. Our Director, Keith Thomas, and Writer Scott Teems also wanted to feature the new world we live in in their adaptation.
Tell us about your process when working with Firestarter’s Production Designer Zosia Mackenzie. How did you work together to find the perfect locations for the look and feel of this film?
Finding the locations for this film was a collaborative effort that included Director Keith Thomas, DOP Karim Hussein and Zosia. We would all head out to scout together, albeit in separate vehicles due to COVID!
The “McGee” home was an integral part of the film. I had scouted various homes that might work for Keith. When I scouted the home in the cul de sac , I had actually scouted the house beside our “Hero” home, Zosia and Keith fell in love with the other home as it was hidden behind trees and really evoked the sense of the McGee family “hiding out”. The owners were hesitant at first, as they valued their privacy, but eventually were persuaded and were extremely happy to be part of the film. Zosia did an excellent job recreating the interior of the home in the studio for all the “fire scenes”.
Did you have a favourite location from the film? If so, what made it your favourite?
I’d have to say it was the “Manver’s Farm.” It was in Valens, northwest of Hamilton, and its remoteness from other farms, as well as a very accommodating owner, gave us an excellent platform to experiment with our special effects. The farm was vacant and the owner gave us a lot more leeway than we would have had on a working farm. We also didn’t have to move people out for COVID protocols. The farm is located on part of the rock that forms the Niagara Escarpment, so our trucks didn’t sink in the mud when it rained and SPFX did not have to worry as much about fire hazards.
What was the biggest creative challenge you faced on Firestarter?
Deciding on a look for the “The Shop”, the secret government agency that is the main antagonist of Firestarter. The original was set in New England on the water, with a New England look, white wood frames, etc. We ended up filming at U of T Scarborough, going for the scary brutalist look instead, and then cutting through the trees to the waterfront at Confederation Beach Park in Hamilton. It really added a great new element to this reboot.
Why do you love working in Locations in Ontario’s production industry?
Having worked in Hamilton (for Firestarter and many others), Sudbury, North Bay and Manitoulin Island, as well as the Greater GTA, I can always find a look to match for different cities that films and TV shows are set in, as well as unique and unusual locations for films set in Ontario.
What is your favourite location that appears in a film or TV show, and why?
That’s a tough one! I love all my locations! Ask me about the ones I dislike…
Kidding aside, my top five are: The farm we used in Firestarter, an old convent I found in North York, the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, and all of HCA (Hamilton Conservation Area).
Watch Firestarter in theatres or stream it on Peacock.