Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Just Not Toronto)
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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Just Not Toronto)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers.

In a change that just might be the culprit for all the Wayfarers, Toronto’s film industry is shining brighter than it has in a while. As recently reported by the Star, Filmport, the almost one-year-old megastudio—still only in its first phase of development—is all but completely booked for production on various series, pilots, and feature films, most of them funded by major American studios. Despite in-fighting between the city and its various other studio owners over municipal funding for Filmport, this work is undoubtedly welcomed by the twenty-five thousand professional crew members and ten thousand unionized actors in Toronto.
Regardless of the state of the industry, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was destined to bring its drawings to life in Toronto—call it a hunch. It’s perhaps the brightest shining spot in this recent gleam of good movie news; after a principal casting session that started in June 2008, and a herding of extras in February, the live-action film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series finally began shooting last week, and is scheduled to film into early August. O’Malley himself is pretty excited (squealing on his blog, “Omg it’s happening rite noww. Movie stars are dressing up as Scott Pilgrim characters and prancing around soundstages that have been built up to look like my drawings!” [Aww!]), and Torontoist is, too; it isn’t often that big American dollars are spent to make a movie not necessarily about Toronto, but nonetheless, to celebrate it exactly as we know and love it.

The biggest buzz around the film is still wunderkind Michael Cera’s starring role as protagonist Scott Pilgrim. If the promise of turning every corner all summer only to run into your favorite Hollywood-via-Brampton boy isn’t excitement enough, your eyes—and ears—are in for another homegrown treat. True to the huge role music plays in the novels, so far, three of Toronto’s biggest musical exports will be involved in filming: Wright confirmed in an Eye Weekly interview that, so far, Metric and Broken Social Scene are involved (Metric is said to be contributing an unreleased track, “Black Sheep,” to the soundtrack, but BSS’s contribution isn’t clear). Sloan (originally from Halifax, but based out of Toronto for almost ten years now) are involved as well, although the level of commitment has not been revealed. Based on Sloan bassist/vocalist/sometimes-drummer Chris Murphy’s frequent appearance in director Edgar Wright’s updates on his site, and assuming he is not attempting to play a teenager in the film, a logical guess would have him coaching the actors on their characters’ instruments for their live performance scenes. The Playlist rolls the dice and lands on renowned producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Pavement, R.E.M.) as the film’s music supervisor. (Rolling Stone makes mention of Godrich’s involvement as well, and claims he requested the Metric song.)

Sloan’s Chris Murphy, Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, and Johnny Simmons as Young Neil.

Further fuel to the ever-tantalizing rumour fire: irresistibly charming actor and musician Jason Schwartzman is still unconfirmed (but widely speculated) as Pilgrim’s ultimate nemesis, Gideon Gordon Graves, and according to always-reliable forum commenters, Quentin Tarantino will reportedly sit in as guest director for a scene. Although neither one has technically verified, on-set pictures show Schwartzman playing peek-a-boo behind makeshift masks, barely attempting to disguise his identity. Torontoist has not yet done its highly scientific measurements on the hairline in this photographic “proof” of “Tarantino,” the sole evidence of his involvement.

Top secret! Jason Schwartzman? Quentin Tarantino? Edgar Wright.

Michael Cera, hiding on set.

For a bit of top-notch technical stuff, action movie Director of Photography Bill Hope (The Matrix, Spiderman 2 and 3) is on board for cinematography, and in a rare casting decision for a big-budget (potential) blockbuster, local actor Ellen Wong makes the jump from Canadian episodic obscurity (This Is Wonderland) to the big screen, starring alongside Cera as one of his love interests, Knives Chau.
While it’s clear that Wright is making himself comfy in town (especially at the Bloor Cinema), it’s unclear whether he’s attempted to further embrace Scott Pilgrim‘s original locales by catching a show at Lee’s Palace, going for grub at Sneaky Dee’s, taking a bored shuffle through Dufferin Mall, or starting fights in the Toronto Reference Library. Will we still be able to rifle through dusty CDs at Sonic Boom until midnight, while Filmport is instead dressed to impressed, or will these locations be closed for some authentic filming? Let’s hope for the latter. Sacrificing a convenient trip to No Frills: annoying. Forever having the Dirty Duff immortalized in a major motion picture: priceless.
All images from Edgar Wright’s Flickr photostream.