ALCATRAZ: Jack Bender On Vancouver Challenges & Benefits


Alcatraz executive producer/director Jack Bender discusses the process of filming television’s next big mystery series in Vancouver, Canada.

Speaking to, Bender explains what motivated him to join Alcatraz once his filming schedule opened up:

“It was a natural [decision]. I lean toward the stuff [JJ. Abrams] comes up with, and we have a good working relationship, so it was an easy call to go ahead in Vancouver and run the first 13 episodes.”

On why Vancouver works as a filming location for Alcatraz, despite being a “tough” place to shoot:

“My theory about Vancouver, and the reason I felt it could work — a lot of shows, we know, go to Canada strictly for monetary reasons, whether it’s Toronto for New York or Vancouver for Seattle — had nothing to do with that. I felt that the city, because of its proximity to the water — and in the second episode, especially, you really get to see this — really worked for us, because you feel you’re in San Francisco.”

On making Alcatraz look distinctive from anything else on TV:

“I thought, what if we don’t use Steadicam? What if we don’t have these fancy-ass camera moves? Why not approach it more like Stanley Kubrick or John Frankenheimer, the classic, great filmmakers from the past? In the flashback scenes, I wanted to go for that staid Gordon Willis/Godfather look, no fancy camera moves, and save the jazz for the present day. Alcatraz Prison, to me, is cold and dank and intimidating — not a friendly place. So I tried to create a juxtaposition, show the contrast between both worlds, and yet, still make it part of one show.”

On filming at locations such as Hastings Street:

“I know it well. We’ve shot in various places where there are a lot of hypodermic needles on the ground, that real-life stuff that’s unfortunate and sometimes you don’t really want to deal with. There are some dark places in Vancouver. It’s a real city. And that’s one of the reasons it works for us.”


Alcatraz escapes Monday, Jan. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX

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