Wednesday May 7th: I'm glad I brought my GPS because getting out from Vancouver airport was such a pain.
I arrived in Hope 2 hours later at ParkMotel around 6:30pm and right the way I started filming : railroad track, Hudson tree.
I realized the town, streets were really small. Different from what you could imagine looking at some aerial map.
Around 7:30pm, I was at the "Bridge to Portland", 3mn driving. Wow, this bridge was so busy!!. Every 10 sec, you have a car crossing. It was impossible to walk and cross the bridge .
8:30pm: Getting dark. Back to the motel.
Thursday May 8th: Back to "Bridge to Portland" at Sunrise (5:30am). And guess what? The bridge was still busy. A car crossing every 1mn. But I could finally get the shot: me like Rambo walking on the bridge....
This day was gloomy and misty...the perfect First Blood weather. I spent the whole morning filming in Hope.
True story here : 7:30am. I'm standing right at Wallace/3rd avenue corner under the famous 'Shopping plaza' sign. I'm preparing my tripod ready to shoot the District Hall spot where the old Sheriff office was located.
At this spot, there is a statue of the city. Always been there since years. And guess what happened? A truck from the city hall arrives and removes the statue just in front of my eyes !! 7:30am !! nobody in the street except me and this truck! So I ask the workers and they explains the statue is old and need to be replaced.
Next, I walked to the spot where you see the Rambo shadow (see orange mark on the map) Unfortunately, a big SUV car was parked just in front of the garage...ruining my shot. I said to myself " Oh well, I will come back and check later on".
I stopped by the visitor center. A young lady was there and asked me what was the purpose of my visit. How long I will stay?....Proudly, I'm telling her I'm only here because of the First Blood movie. She was nice and shown me the rare pictures album. I asked her about how far is Othello Tunnels and guess what? She announced me the "Othello" tunnels is closed for the season. There is rock falling at the Rambo cliff and now this has became an hazardous area!! She adds "You cannot even get there, they put a huge gate at the entrance of the 1st tunnel!" BUMMER! Well, not really...don't forget French have a bad reputation about being disciplined ;-P
On the afternoon, I visited Hope Gateway entrance, old gas station and did the Hope Lookup trail (here the entrance of the trail) Awesome view!
Before going back to my motel, I stopped by at the Rambo shadow wall spot and ...the big SUV car was still there. "Damn! they never drive in this town!"
Friday May 9th: I parked at the Othello parking at 5:15am. And 10mn after, I'm standing right in front of the predicted gate of the Othello 1st tunnel. But there is a huge gap on the right inside. With no effort, I passed though and walked into this dark 1st tunnel which took me to the famous rock face!
WOW!. This was my great moment. NOBODY. NO TOURISTS. Only me and the famous cliff at sunrise. Perfect light. Trust me, it gives me some chills in the bones. I felt like being in the movie.
I spent 2 hours between the 1st and the 3rd tunnel. I found the Rambo tree spot (the right inside after the 2nd tunnel) . Well, you know the tree is gone. But looking at this spot, I could figure out how the director achieved this amazing scene.
7:45am I decide to access to the top of the Rambo cliff. I had no clue how to get there. So, I went back to the 1st tunnel entrance gate and I started to hike in the forest. Very steep. No trail. No path. Just straight ahead. Like Rambo duh?!. I do remember I called my wife (wonderful world of mobile phone) and gave her my position, just in case if something happens...After 1hour struggling in the Rambo 'jungle', I finally arrived at the cliff edge and found exactly the spot where Ted Kotcheff put his camera.
By this time, some workers arrived at Othello Tunnels. They were here to install some net protection from falling rock. I met some of them at the top of cliff. They asked me what I was doing here knowing the area was closed to public. But they were friendly and let me do my filming. They showed me the path built specially for the movie. It took me 5mn to walk back to the tunnel entrance. Damn! If I knew.
I went back to Hope for lunch at Darrel's restaurant. The one at the corner Fraser/Wallace close to Cheyenne sport. While I was ordering, I asked the waitress if by any chance she knew the owner of the big SUV parked in front of the Rambo shadow wall. She said the owner is an doctor living upstairs traveling very often in Vancouver. But she added his wife was there. And guess what? Well, after the lunch, I knocked at their door and a old lady opened. I explained if it would be possible to move the car. She was surprised to know her garage was used as a set in the First Blood movie. I showed her the capture movie picture. She was very kind and accepted to move the car for the rest of day and I got my SHOT!
Saturday May 10th: Leaving Hope at 6:00am. Arriving at Harris Road bridge at 7:30am. The weather was cloudy like in the movie. On this day, this spot was busy. A running race was organized starting at the bridge. I guess I have no luck with bridge in BC. But it was fine. I filmed with no problem and I left to the opening scene location.
I arrived at 8:45am at the opening scene location. As expected, it was a private property. I walked to the spot, close to the shore and started filming the landscape for 20 seconds.
But the owner came out from his house and started shouting at me "THIS IS A PRIVATE PROPERTY!! WHAT ARE U DOING HERE! DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TO READ THE SIGN EVERYWHERE "KEEP OUT" .....GET OUT !! WE HAD RECENTLY SOME BREAK-IN HERE....GET OUT !! " Well, the guy was so pissed off, I haven't tried to explain him the purpose of my visit. And probably he does not know his place was the Delmore Barry property . I left right the way.
I tried to access the shore by another way but all the area was surrounded by private properties. The closest spot was the mine 'blasting' area and it was active this day. I was not crazy to take any risk. I left the opening scene location disappointed, upset and frustrated.
I drove back to Vancouver airport and took an early flight.
Once I got home, I watched the 20 seconds of opening scene footage....and, miraculously, It was a pretty good shot .