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SURREY NOW & THEN: ‘Hot Rod’ comedy helped put Cloverdale on movie/TV map

Film backer says Surrey needs to publicize such site highlights, with ‘Smallville’ and more
“Hot Rod” cast members in Cloverdale during the movie shoot in the summer of 2006, in a photo by Paul Orazietti, executive director of Cloveradale Business Improvement Association. (submitted photo)

Depending who’s asked, “Hot Rod” is either the greatest comedy ever or the worst piece of movie trash in the history of Hollywood.

However, one thing is not debatable: Cloverdale is a star of the show, a lovably goofy 2007 flick that finds Andy Samberg as amateur stuntman Rod Kimble, a delusional hero who jumps his sputtering moped from home-built ramps around town.

Arguably more popular movies and TV shows have been shot in and around Cloverdale, but “Hot Rod” might feature more of the neighbourhood than any of them. Recognizable sites include the town centre, rodeo fairgrounds, a house on 57A Avenue and, for one hilarious dance scene, a convenience-store parking lot.

“We have a lot of filming going on here, and ‘Hot Rod’ is part of our storied history,” confirmed Paul Orazietti, executive director of Cloverdale Business Improvement Association.

(Story continues below scene from “Hot Rod”)

A self-described “film guy,” Orazietti often spotlights Cloverdale-filmed productions on, and has been pushing Surrey tourism officials to create an online map showing such movie/TV sites.

Vancouver has done it, an interactive map showing where different productions were filmed,” Orazietti said. “It could include behind-the-scene shots, things like that. Right now I have a good inventory of stories and photographs for a project like that, and ‘Hot Rod’ would definitely be on the map” – as would “Smallville,” “Supernatural,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” and other shoot sites, along with recent productions of “Peacemaker” (a “Suicide Squad” spinoff starring John Cena) and “Superman & Lois.”

For the latter, the “Smallville” backlot now constructed on the rodeo fairgrounds is located where the big bike-jump scene was filmed for “Hot Rod” in the summer of 2006, with Samberg, Isla Fisher, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Will Arnett and other actors.

“They were not well known at the time, but it’s one those things where the show is kind of farcical, so it was a lot of fun,” recalled Orazietti, who was there for the filming. “It was all very colourful stuff, just the nature of what was happening in the film.”

One memorable scene saw hundreds of people march determinedly in Cloverdale’s town centre before a riot breaks out, out of nowhere, to a soundtrack of John Farnham’s uplifting “You’re The Voice.”

“The dancing, the bike jumps, all of it was good fun,” Orazietti continued. “That was a fairly short production and they’d moved around sort of the Cloverdale town centre, and the main house, where Rod lived, was probably three blocks from the downtown.”

(Story continues below photo of Rod’s house, as it appears on Google Street View)

The website reveals some “Hot Rod” shoot locations, with links to Google Street View, of Rod’s house, Dave’s house on Shannon Place, the Food Folks store and Greenaway Park, where the “Parkdale Public Pool Jump” happened.

In her mid-teens at the time, Brittany Tiplady’s single scene in “Hot Rod” was filmed not far from where she lived in Cloverdale. She plays Maggie, the girl who offers beverages to the gang just as Rod is submerged in a backyard pool, as a test of his lung capacity.

“People really remember that scene, which is really funny,” Tiplady recalled.

For her, comedic acting was something a bit different than the more dramatic roles that kept her busy as a child actor. She auditioned for “Hot Rod” but didn’t hear back “for a really long time” — until not long before it was time to film.

“I was excited about it because it was being filmed in Cloverdale, and we’d usually have to go to Vancouver (for film work),” Tiplady said. “I grew up in Cloverdale and went to Tweedsmuir, so it was literally a stone’s throw from my house, and it was the only time I filmed so close to home.”

(Story continues below videos of “Hot Rod” scenes in Cloverdale)

Tiplady wasn’t at the fairgrounds for the film’s climactic bike-jump scenes, but remembers people saying how exciting it was.

“The people in that film were just wonderful, and every time I watch Andy Samberg or Bill Hader now, I always remember how kind and real and normal they were, and I really think it was a great experience for everyone involved,” Tiplady said.

“Their humour, I feel, was very niche at the time,” she continued. “There was a lot of improvising and a lot of things as a dramatic actor that were pretty new to me. The vibe was great, but I had no idea how the movie was going to be received. I remember when it came out, I was still in high school and I went to see it with a bunch of friends, and the theatre was just howling. That was something new to me, where I was in a theatre with people laughing at a movie I had acted in.

“It’s something I still get messages about – you know, ‘Oh my God, were you in ‘Hot Rod’?!” added Tiplady, who now runs Loose Lips Media with longtime friend Kristi Alexandra. “The film, I don’t think it’s something I expected to be quite the cult classic it is now, and I don’t mean that negatively at all.”

(Story continues below tweets)

Orazietti says he gets some calls and messages about “Hot Rod” and other Cloverdale-area shoots, but the TV show “Smallville” still generates the most interest, from his standpoint.

“People from Kenya have called, Australia, and I had a preacher from Utah who came and interviewed everybody involved with it, so I started putting those sites on my social media, my eclectic Twitter handle,” Orazietti said. “Now those ‘Smallville’ fans are finding out about ‘Superman & Lois’ being done here. Having filming here like that really has a profound impact on the community, because of the rent money paid to the rodeo, things like that. And we’re seeing money spent locally. All the wood in ‘Smallville’ (on the backlot) is locally sourced.

“I have business people who are doing really well from the film industry,” he added. “Filming is a bright light locally, and we’ve really had some magic moments. And we want to let more people know that, where it’s happening locally here in Cloverdale.”

Surrey Now & Then is a weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events, and how they evolved over the years. Email story ideas and tips to We thank Surrey Archives for assistance with this series.

CLICK HERE to read more Surrey Now & Then stories in this series, or see some below:

VIDEO: Inside the Whalley building that’s been vacant for two decades.

‘Spy house’ now a pub, a dream project of man who didn’t live to see it open.

Rickshaw sign stands as a reminder of Jung family’s restaurant days.

Peace Arch monument turns 100, but party plans paused.

‘Pachinko’ filming now the focus of former newspaper press building.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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