Before Fernie-born location manager Rino Pace came along, western Canada was not the Hollywood hot spot like it is today.
In fact, the film industry hadn’t really discovered the province of B.C. at all. Since the 1980s, Pace’s work has been instrumental in establishing the Western North as an opportune production environment.
Rewind 50 years, and you would have seen Pace walking the streets of Fernie delivering copies of The Free Press. Little did he know that he would one day end up in the headlines. His work as an international location manager has taken him around the world, and led to collaborations with some of the most successful film directors and producers of all time.
Pace’s career spans three decades of location management in film and television, and he has scouted the locations for roughly 50 films, 13 of these totaling $3.9 billion in box office sales. His credits include Betrayal, Unforgiven, The Edge, Along Came a Spider, X-Men 2, I, Robot, The Assassination of Jesse James, Shooter, Inception, Man of Steel, Godzilla, Deadpool, Altered Carbon, Sliders, and The Outer Limits.
Pace recently was honoured with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI). He says he was excited and honoured to receive such a prestigious award.
His parents, Salvatore and Assunta Pace, along with sons Joe and Domenic moved to Fernie from Calabria, Italy in the 1950s, and Pace was born a few years later. He says the diversity of culture in Fernie during that time helped him become an international film location scout, and later a location manager.
“I kind of attribute all my success to growing up in Fernie,” said Pace. “I always think it was the most fantastic place to grow up in.”
Gorwing up, Pace was surrounded by people of many different cultures and nationalities. He believes that this helped prepare him for the large diversity of people in the bigger cities.
“We had all those different types of people that we lived with and had to live with, and had to communicate with, that when I came to these bigger cities and I saw people like that, I could always kind of refer back to – well there was a person in Fernie like that, and he was a good person,” he said.
Pace eventually moved away and pursued theatre in Calgary. This was at a time when the Canadian ‘big sky’ Prairies were becoming a large attraction for the film industry. During that phase Pace transitioned into the craft of location scouting and became accomplished in his field.
He eventually moved to Vancouver where he worked on the show, Airwolf, one of the first large TV productions to take place in that city.
The rest is history.
Pace has since scouted locations for films all around the world, but some productions have brought him back closer to home.
In 2009, Fernie Alpine Resort was transformed into the fictional ‘Kodiak Valley Ski Resort’ for exterior locations shots of the Hollywood film Hot Tub Time Machine, and Pace was at the forefront of this project.
“That’s one of the first components of making a film,” said Pace. “We get together between myself, a producer, a designer and a director, and begin that process to decide where this thing is going to be shot, what it’s going to look like, and what type of locations are going to back that look up.”
Rino says that location management comes down to experience and knowing the area. After years of shooting in Vancouver, he has come to know where the best places are and what looks good on the big screen.
One of the strangest places Pace has scouted and filmed in over the years, is Vancouver’s abandoned mental health facility, Riverview Hospital.
“Riverview has always been a very very strange place,” he said.
When crews starting filming at the institution pre-2000s, most of the buildings were still open and in use.
As they closed some of the buildings, film crews would move in shortly afterwards. Pace says it was unnerving to be in a place that was so recently abandoned.
“I remember when we first starting shooting there… there’s no power in these places. I was the last guy leaving the place and I had to go through the basement and through the kitchen with just a flashlight,” said Pace.
“You still had patients in other buildings so there was always the issue that patients would somehow sneak back into these buildings that we were shooting in, or patients would somehow come into set.”
In addition to this, Pace has also been involved in several productions shot in some of Vancouver’s ‘haunted’ mansions.
From abandoned buildings to the Cirque of the Unclimbables located near the border of Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon, Pace has seen a lot.
Thanks to him, Canada’s wild west blossomed from what he described as “no rules or standards”, into an efficient, thriving production community.
As he said to the LMGI, “not bad for a small-town, first-generation Italian boy from Fernie, British Columbia”.