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Zombie TV series takes over town

Squamish busy with productions
Photo by Rebecca Aldous/The Chief
Patrick Spavor paints a mural on the Chiefian Hotel for an A&E Network television series.

Squamish is set to be quietly invaded by the walking dead.

Signs of their arrival can already be seen as artists painted murals on one of the town’s icons, the Chieftain Hotel. It’s all in preparation for the A&E network’s filming of the straight-to-series order of “The Returned.”

“One of the exciting ones will be spending approximately four months in Squamish,” the District of Squamish’s film and events manager Devon Guest said referring to the production.

The series is a remake of a French Zombie drama “Les Revenants.”  Backed by “Bates Motel” co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and “True Blood” television writer Raelle Tucker, the story revolves people, who are thought to be dead, returning to their small hometown.

Squamish staff have been busy with filming queries, Guest said. As pilot season heats up, the municipality is fielding three to four inquires per week.

“The average person in Squamish would be surprised at how much filming takes place here,” Guest said.

So far this year, 16 productions have shot in Squamish, seven more than the same time last year. There are five productions on the deck for the upcoming months, ranging from made-for-TV movies, to television series and major motion pictures.

The A&E series is making a significant investment in downtown Squamish, Guest said. They have had ongoing discussions with the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association (BIA).

“They are working with the BIA to ensure business continuity,” she said, adding downtown parking will not be affected by the filming.

It’s nice to have an open line of communication with the film industry, BIA executive director Christine Bennett said.

“We haven’t always had that in the past,” she noted.

The murals on the Chieftain Hotel will remain until the building undergoes a scheduled renovation, its manager Celine Maltais said, noting the hotel’s owners had hoped the work could be completed on panels in order to keep it after the upgrades.

The hotel’s redesign has not been finalized, she added, however its famous sign will stay.