By contributor Mariah Vanderzee

I’ve always loved visiting the sets of my favourite TV shows. At first, it was solely an opportunist way to kill time while in Vancouver, waiting for one thing or another.

Once I crashed the set of CW’s The Flash in hopes of seeing something or someone. Not much happened, but Grant Gustin (The Flash from the CW show) and Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold) did see us; they smiled and waved. Had we stayed, as some fans did, we would have seen the gentlemen come out later to say ‘hi’ and pose for photos. It’s that easy.

The next time I happened upon the set of the CW’s Arrow. (Side note, the CW loves Vancouver,) I was downtown, when I discovered a Star City Police car. I walked closer and had a conversation with a production assistant and two minor extras.

After these fortunate run-ins, I found the most wonderful website in the world. <> is incredibly informative for those who are looking for what’s shooting in Vancouver and surrounding areas. It has a directory of  shows and the signs used to indicate filming. Some shows have more than one and some are more obscure than others. For example, Arrow uses one sign saying OLIVER, whereas Supernatural has used a sign that says JAFTS. So, if you see a film crew and are curious as to what is filming in that area, you can just pop on the site and know within seconds.

People question why I go to sets. I’ve been to set four or five times where I didn’t get to talk to any actors, but it’s fun when it’s a show you like. I’ve been able to take pictures with the most iconic car on Supernatural. I’ve made friends. Occasionally, something spectacular happens.

One Friday night, my friend and I checked Whatsfilming and saw that Arrow was shooting two minutes from where we were.  It was cold, but we got to watch setup and filming. Stephen Amell (The Green Arrow) stepped outside, saw us, and waved. A little while later he came out again and was carrying two cups. All I can remember thinking was, ‘No, Stephen…you are not,” as he brought my friend and I hot chocolate and talked to us for a few minutes.

The second night, less than a month later, on another Friday night, we saw the Flash/Supergirl musical episode was shooting downtown. We were there as soon as could be. That episode, Darren Criss, who is a huge personal hero of mine, would be there. That night we got selfies, hugs, and to talk to four different cast members. It was such a surreal experience.

I would recommend trying Whatsfilming if you enjoy the many aspects of filmmaking, production, and catching up with your favourite shows.