On location

Movie makers love using UTSC as their film set

Berton Woodward
Image of David Cronenberg behind a camera

Iconic Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg was the first to discover the cinematic qualities of Scarborough College. He used it as the location for his debut feature film, Stereo, released in 1969. Since then, the campus has hosted production crews for major movies, TV shows such as Hannibal and Covert Affairs, and even commercials. Hollywood stars like Colin Farrell and Jake Gyllenhaal have emoted in the Meeting Place and brooded outside.

Many producers, particularly for sci-fi and psychological thrillers, are drawn by the stark concrete architecture of UTSC’s original building, the Science and Humanities Wing, says Tom Ue, editor of World Film Locations: Toronto and a UTSC English grad (BA, 2009). “With a bit of lighting, it helps reinforce the mysteriousness and sense of urban isolation that is core to these projects.”

There are good reasons to encourage filming—not only do these movie shoots attract attention from autograph hounds and selfie seekers, they also generate campus pride and add a cool factor to UTSC. Along with Cronenberg’s debut, here are some more recent films that will have you pointing out familiar UTSC spots.

  • Stereo (1969) – The Science and Humanities Wing served as David Cronenberg’s Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry, where an experiment in telepathy and sexuality was being conducted, in his hour-long, black-and-white feature.
  • Men With Brooms (2002) – Actor- director Paul Gross’s comedic homage to curling, which included U of T’s varsity team as players, has become a Canadian cult classic.
  • Cinderella Man (2005) – Russell Crowe and Renée Zellweger starred in the story of boxer James J. Braddock, featuring Toronto locations ranging from UTSC to Maple Leaf Gardens.
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – In the fourth instalment of the horror series starring Milla Jovovich, the Meeting Place was transformed into the inside of a prison. (The Robarts Library downtown served as the exterior.)
  • Total Recall (2012) – The Meeting Place this time became a futuristic train station for this remake, populated by robots (including at least one UTSC student extra) and star Colin Farrell.
  • Enemy (2013) – Star Jake Gyllenhaal, playing two roles, appeared in one of them strolling outside the Science and Humanities Wing in this thriller by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve.