Behind the Boom: “Easy Mac, Hard Time” Shoot

Small, cramped, and hopelessly outdated, upon walking into the old police station at 209 Mavety Street you can’t shake the feeling you’ve stepped onto the set of a 1980’s cop show – albeit one with a non-existent budget.

While it’s easy to see why the space wasn’t ideal from a law enforcement standpoint (officers often needed to interview witnesses in the halls due to lack of space), as a filming location it offers an excellent alternative to some of the larger studios in Toronto.

Braving “leaky roofs, sewer-back-ups and mice infestations” (all things we saw while on-set, I should add), Boom Unit Video and our intrepid cast of inmates recently completed a shoot at 209 Mavety for our commercial “Easy Mac, Hard Time” – a take-off on “Orange is the New Black” for a contest run by eYeka.

Surrounded by the remnants of archaic surveillance equipment and concrete walls plastered with yellowing PSA posters, 209 Mavety has a fully-functional cell block that’s perfect for prison scenes. While the weather wasn’t ideal (hovering around 30 degrees, turning each cell into a cast-iron sauna), our cast and crew took it all in stride – even if the combination of sweltering heat and polyester prison jumpsuits had more than a few cast members hoping for an early release.

Shooting on a Red Epic camera, the crew (Bartosz Pawlowski and Dennis Kane) lit the cellblock to look like a fully modern facility – brightening up the space to ensure our leads popped against their decidedly bleak surroundings. We also managed to dress a lounge area in the basement (which looked like it had had recent tenants, eerily enough) to pass as a college dorm room. Not ideal, but given it was the Honda Indy in Toronto that weekend a midday location switch wasn’t in the cards.

Overall we couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. Our three leads were outstanding (Tyler Hewitt, Kearsten Johansson, and Jennah Foster-Catlack), and we also got great performances from all of our guards (Keaton Crouse, Christef Desir, and Peter Mazzucco) and inmates (Brittany Cope, Shawna Edward, and Lezley Gold).

While we won’t know how the spot does in the competition until September, a big thanks to everyone who came out and helped make “Easy Mac, Hard Time” a success!

Probably the most fun we’ve ever had behind bars…probably.