It has been reported by Vanity Fair that HBO’s The Last of Us is one of the company’s most expensive adaptations, with each episode estimated to cost around $10 million. It is no easy task to turn video games into live action media, especially if that video game is set in such a realistic post-apocalyptic America. As a result, every set has to look and feel the part, with derelict buildings and abandoned cars littering the scenes. 

Although the majority of the show is based in Boston, most of the filming took place in Canada, more specially Fort Macleod in Alberta. However, the production team soon found out that Canada did not look like the broken, grimy world of The Last of Us. This comes from a Vanity Fair interview with the show’s production designer, John Paino, who described it succinctly with “Canada looked a little too good.” 

This certainly isn’t what Canada usually looks like (pic: Vanity Fair).

Emmy-nominated Paino, who is no stranger to things on ambitious scales, took on the job of making the sets look the part. “They built sets 20 feet high, huge concrete walls, and run-down historical sites; they scouted trees and greenery from all over the continent and, through particular sets, meticulously charted the series’ cross-country journey” Vanity Fair reports. Paino draws attention to the fact that it isn’t usually difficult to find at least some rundown parts in rural areas, but in Canada “we couldn’t even find an abandoned gas station.” 

Paino gathered inspiration using images from refugee and Romani camps. He also found inspiration from some reassembled chairs in Hong Kong that had a handmade quality to them. “That became our mandate”, Paino says, “the built world is unbuilt and rebuilt, and I used images like that to guide me.” He also wanted to keep in mind the fact that Ellie had never left the QZ until she meets Joel, so she explores the world with a unique sense of wonder. “When she gets in a car, when she’s in a hotel, when she sees things for the first time. Sometimes you want her to have the natural beauty of nature coming back”, he explains. 

So there you have it, Canada is “too clean”! What is your favourite set piece in the show so far? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned to GameLuster for more gaming news!

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