On the Set – Bomb Girls

If the fire of excitement were to be transmuted into light, then Sue and I would be as stars in the firmament, turning night into day…

We’d been invited for a visit to the Bomb Girls set, and Sue and I were over the moon!

Bomb Girls burst on the scene in January of this year, and with its six episode season, held us and the rest of Canada enraptured as it shone a loving light on part of our history that we should know better and treasure.

In a reflection of our own spirits the sun had painted the city with broad brushes of golden light, filled with the hopes and possibilities of the day…

What would we see? Who would we meet? What Season 2 secrets would we learn?

We found our way across the sprawling metropolis we call home, and prepared ourselves to step back in time, to see familiar faces and places, and see the art of creation that brought this world to life on our television screens.

We are met by the Unit Publicist, Bev Warren, an engaging and joyful soul, who, though she must be undeniably and constantly busy, made us feel perfectly at home, and made sure our needs were attended to.

We are led on a whirlwind tour through the world of Bomb Girls, the production offices and craft services lines where we get to say hi to familiar faces and names, Janis Lundman, Adrienne Mitchell, Michael MacLennan, and Harry the dog.

We move around a corner, and seemingly step out onto a street, lined with bits of trash, and find ourselves standing outside The Jewel Box, a lovely art-deco club, that I could have spent days in, and can’t wait to see come to life on the big screen. It’s lush, beautiful, and I could imagine myself wandering about it in spats, my tie knotted with a double windsor, and my fedora sitting jauntily on my head.

The level of detail is stunning, holding up to the closest examination, surely the camera wouldn’t see all of this, and that’s the moment I knew that the people behind the scenes truly love the show as much as the viewers and the fans. They want to make the world a complete reality, there are photographs in Marco’s mother’s apartment that we may never see on-screen, with little notations on them in Italian!

But nothing, nothing could prepare Sue and I for what came next, after we stepped around the walls of the ladies powder room in The Jewel Box, we passed through a door, and stopped, gob-smacked.

We were here.

The heart of the show…

Sue Maynard and Timothy D. Rideout were standing on the factory floor of Victory Munitions.

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We both stood stunned with huge goofy grins on our faces.

We came to our senses, and our cameras came to life. We snapped pic after pic, once again marvelling at the details, examining the posters that warned about wasting time, and matches, and advised to do our part. Bev obliged us, by snapping pics of us on the line, positions B5 & 6 respectively.

We wouldn’t be drawn away, we wanted to see every corner, every detail, the foreman’s office hung over us, the bombs were laid out on racks and in boxes, blueprints were sprawled on tables, work tools… All of it looking like it could spring to life at any moment, just waiting for the next shift to show up.

At this point, I’m already willing to call the day a success. I could have gone home happy at that point, but there was more to come…

We stepped through the home of Marco’s mother, small, cozy, and oh, the detail…

But then, Bev stepped through a door, turned around and called out, “It’s Bob and Lorna’s house, come on in!” We were in the Corbett home, it’s fully furnished, it even has a backyard… It struck me once again, that all of the things we see on the screen as we watch this show… I honestly thought that some of the places were actual locations,  but here they all were, steps away from one another… here was the ladies change room, Bob’s wheelchair, and if the factory is the heart of the show, then perhaps the next sets seen were the soul… here was Kate’s bedroom, and the rooming house.

025There is a loud buzz, as rolling starts, and we hear snippets of dialogue as we stalk along the set, somewhere, close by, Ali Liebert is bringing Betty McRae to life. Cut is called, and as Sue and I waited at video village, where the director and his team watch the monitors, Bev speaks to one of the Production Assistants.

Moments later, Bev returned, with the stunning Ali Liebert in tow. With a big hello, she greeted us, thanking us for our articles, and was happy finally to put faces to voices, as we’d only chatted on the phone before. I can also say this without any bias at all, she is as stunning and amazing in real life as she appears to be on the screen. I can’t rave enough about her, she’s charming, gracious, and now has a larger part in our hearts.  (Edit:  Best.  Handshake.  Ever.   – Sue)

We wander back the way we came, trading small talk, and laughing until we found ourselves on the canteen set…

A perfect place for an interview.

We settle in and chat for a bit (it’ll be posted in our podcast feed in due time, don’t worry), and Ali makes us feel right at home.

Eventually, of course, she has to return to set, and we watch her go, content, delighted, and wondering how this day could possibly get any better!

We wandered back to the craft services table, and dig in to lunch, there are tons to eat, and a lot of variety to choose from. We chat happily with Bev, telling her the story of how The Mind Reels came about, our early successes with Jeremy LaLonde and Lost Girl, which led us to our podcast interviews with the Bomb Girls team.

After lunch, we wander back towards video village, to watch the screens as Charlotte Hegele and Michael Seater share a scene as Kate and a new character this season Ivan. We’re sworn to secrecy about what happened, which we will happily keep, but the first thing I said as soon as cut was called was… “Kate, what did you do?!”

It’s a tough, emotionally wracked scene, so Sue and I agreed to wait until it was done before even attempting to chat with Charlotte or Michael, both of whom want to stay in the moment. It’s something both Sue and I understand, once you’re in that zone, whether it’s acting or writing, you hate being pulled out of it, and then trying to find your way back.

In the interim, Bev suggested we take a look at the exteriors, and see if there’s anything we recognize…

We head outside, and there are instantly half a dozen things we know intimately. There’s the ramp, tower, and entrance, there’s the smoking area, and there… there was the gate with the Victory Munitions sign hanging over it.

Once again, we are stunned. We were there.

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Tucked away behind the building is what is referred to as Base Camp. Here are the trailers, where the cast can step away for a little privacy and relax. And would you believe it, there’s a craft services truck here, that when we stepped inside smelled so good, and we were welcomed with open arms again (everyone was so friendly!!).

We pause for a cuppa, and are joined by a guest cast member who is playing a police inspector in this episode (which is almost at the end of the season, and I’ve already said too much!). We chat about his work on Flashpoint, where Bev also worked, and then, Sue and I are left stunned again, as Charlotte Hegele, the only cast member we interviewed in person comes over to give us a brief hello, and big hugs.

Charlotte is a class act, and is so open and honest one can’t help but have your heart touched by her. I think Sue and I both have a special place in our hearts for her, because she was the one we’d met in the first round of interviews.

She slipped back inside, and we followed, after I had finished my cuppa, and took up position at Video Village again, Ali joins us, settling into a seat behind the director to watch her friends and cast mates go through this tough scene yet again.

As I watched the scene spring to life again, from another camera angle, I smiled as I came to a realization – I was watching a new episode of Bomb Girls.

The first one in ten months.

When I shared that with Sue, I think we were both incredibly giddy. We have a quick chat with Peter Webster, who wanders around with a giant toolbox, that when opened reveals threads, needles, thimbles, all the things he would need to fix a bra or make a quilt!

When they finish the scene, Bev leads us back towards the canteen set as shooting moves to Bettys bedroom. We see a scene being blocked out with Kate and Betty (sigh) and we’re led away before I can become too distracted.

Once settled back on the benches of the canteen set we are joined promptly by series newcomer Michael Seater.

Michael is a lot of fun, and seems completely at home in period costume, he laughs with us, as we run him through our usual rote of questions, putting him at his ease as he slowly realizes, we aren’t your usual interview, we’re all about having a chat.

After we finished up with that interview, Sue and I are left to our own devices for a little while on the canteen set, and we have a great time. We know that set now. I can’t wait to see it on the screen again, because we know it so well, we spent time behind the counter, at the piano, played with the cards and the checkers, examined all the posters, handled the props, leafed through the music sheets (all period by the way).

Amazing.

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It’s not long after that, that Bev returns to the canteen, and brings Charlotte with her, who is outfitted in Kate’s jimjams.

She’s stolen time from her lunch to chat with us, something for which Sue and I were so grateful. Charlotte was feeling much better than when we chatted last time at a Starbucks, and there’s a lot of play and laughs as we chat.

When we finish up, we had back to the assembly area as the cast and crew are settling down to their lunches…

And it’s here that we see how close the cast and crew are… After hearing about it all day, Sue and I were present for the grand final of the Bomb Girls ping-pong tournament!

Everyone watched and cheered, and to be included in that little moment, a little look at the inside of the life behind the set was really special.

As they finish their lunches Ali, Charlotte and Michael all give us a quick farewell before heading back to the set, while extras are dressed in the background.

It was here that we had to return to our own world, with a round of thanks, and hugs, we bid goodbye to Bev, and prepared for our journey home.

It was dark when we left, and for a moment I honestly thought it was a dream, it had all seemed to amazing to be true.

We had such a fantastic day, and this has done nothing but build up our love for the show, as well our growing anticipation for its return… January 2nd at 8pm.

Thank you one and all to those amazing folks in front of and behind the camera, you welcomed us, made us feel at home, and for a day, made us part of your family.

It’s a gift that Sue and I will treasure for a long long time.

Thank you.

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