Shooting the End of the World

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By Larry Bambrick
Executive Producer/Series Producer

Day One:
Monday July 13 — The End of The World

Where do you go to shoot the end of the world? On day one of “Spin” (aka “The Day the Earth Stood Still, Or Aftermath II: 203), we’re 200 kilometres (more than 100 miles) east of Toronto, on a point of land sticking out into Lake Ontario. Sandbanks Provincial Park is a sprawling piece of property that includes gorgeous sand dunes, huge beaches and rugged, rocky shore. For us — it’s going to be home base for one of the small colonies of people who are struggling to hang on as the world starts to slow down.

It’s been a fascinating experience reading all the research and helping craft the script on this show. It’s been incredibly revealing to learn just how important the Earth’s rotation is to the way we live. Some of the scientists have been a little sticky. Some are telling us that it would never happen, so they don’t want to get involved in a “thought experiment.” Others are saying the only way the Earth would stop spinning is if there was a cataclysmic event like a meteor strike (maybe another episode of Aftermath). But after the amazingly detailed work of Witold Fraczek — an ocean movement, fluid dynamics expert who works  for ESRI (a mapping and software company) — and the dogged work of our researcher Richard Longley, we’ve got a pretty good idea.

It boils down to this: the spinning of the world keeps the oceans and the atmosphere in place. Our planet bulges in the middle — it’s actually fatter around the equator. Without the Earth’s rotation, the water and the oxygen start moving toward the poles — kind of running “down hill” from the fat equator. If the world stopped spinning immediately, things would keep moving — at about 1100 miles an hour. But if the world slowly stopped spinning, the centrifugal force that keeps the oceans and air in place would weaken over time. That’s why we’ve picked five years as the timeline for our story.

Over that time, huge sections of the northern and southern hemisphere would flood. Enormous sections around the middle of the planet would be uncovered. New continents would be formed. Old cities would be drowned. People living in urban centers at higher elevations would find the air too thin to breath.  It would be a disaster on a scale we’ve never seen.

Here at Sandbanks we’ve found a long shelf of rocky earth that looks perfect for one part of our story. We’re imagining that a group of oceanographers — who realize where the oceans are going — aim to create a new colony on the edge of the new “mega continent” that’s beginning to circle the globe. Our set designer — Florian Schuck — has done an wonderful job bringing this colony to life. He’s even found the tail of an airplane to dress it up with. Imagine walking on the floor of the ocean — and finding the debris from a long-ago plane crash or ship wreck. That’s what you’d have to use to rebuild a life.

On this first day the wind is blowing hard. The waves on Lake Ontario make it feel like it is indeed on the edge of the ocean. The problem is the set keeps blowing over in the strong winds. But the director — Gary Lang — and the DOP — Jeremy Benning — have some really great ideas about how to shoot this remarkably strange world. I’m looking forward to the shooting, and trying to pull it all together in the editing suite.

Aftermath: When the Earth Stops Spinning airs Thursday April 8 9P et/pt.