The Last Of Us Set Costs Were So High Because Canada Was Too Clean

The Last of Us has been one of HBO's most expensive productions ever with each episode reportedly costing $10 million and the total budget for the series running up to the hundreds of millions. Adapting the video game for a live-action television series is no small business and the production had to scout locations and build the necessary sets to bring the broken down world of the games into life.

While the adaptation features locations such as Boston and its surrounds, which were also in the game, the filming took place in Canada with one of the principal locations being Fort Macleod in Alberta. However, as production designer John Paino told Vanity Fair, the Great White North presented some unexpected challenges.

In the article, it's revealed that Canada proved a challenge to location scout the kind of grimy, post-civilisation kind of vibe the production needed to pull of the look of The Last of Us when humanity has crumbled due to a ravenous fungal infection. But Canada didn't look like a place that had succumbed to a ravenous fungal infection.

Paino told Vanity Fair that finding Western-style towns was not difficult in Canada as they needed to film the prologue, which is set in Texas, before the infection has fully broken out, "…there's a really interesting similarity between Canadian and what I'll call frontier architecture," the production designer said.

Highlighting how in major urban areas, there's usually a "liminal area" where old factories are or old shipping yards (and Paino mentioned Children of Men specifically) he thought it'd be simple to locate such an area in Canada. But it turned out not to be. "We couldn’t find any of that. I swear to you, we couldn’t even find an abandoned gas station," Paino said.

"We had a slow realization that many things that we thought we would just shoot on location, we would be building. Also, the architecture just wasn’t there. If we’re careening down streets and knocking things down—I was really shocked. It’s a very clean country."

So there you go, Canadians, your country is too clean. A very fine compliment really. But for the purposes of The Last of Us not as optimal. The article goes into further depth and it makes for fascinating reading just how much thought, planning, and building it takes to construct for our viewing pleasure, so do give it a read.

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