Just like the ocean and the mountains, the filming of big-budget movies and television shows has become a frequent sight for Vancouverites. It seems with each day that passes in Canada’s most liveable city, you can’t turn a corner without seeing a station of cameras and bright lights set up to capture a Hollywood-filtered moment. Vancouver ranks as North America’s third-largest film and television production city, following meccas Los Angeles and New York. The film and television industry is rightfully taking notice, and is sending up some of its legendary talents to work their magic.
Cue Eric Overmyer’s arrival on Vancouver soil.
Touting an impressive resume, Overmyer is overwhelmingly humble on the topic of his Hollywood achievements. He is the mind behind some of television’s most powerful shows, having created Amazon’s Bosch and HBO’s Treme, and executive produced for the likes of Law & Order, Boardwalk Empire, and The Wire. Sitting down at The Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard Street, Overmyer’s first order of business before diving into the successes of his career is asking a simple question: “Coffee?”
What brings the Emmy-nominated producer and writer to Vancouver for the first time in his professional career is the third season of The Man in the High Castle, Amazon’s television adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s bestselling science fiction novel that gives a glimpse into an alternate history of North America—one of a life that could have been if the Axis powers had won World War Two. Overmyer, raised in Seattle and now based in Los Angeles, is the program’s showrunner—a job in television many viewers are not familiar with.
“Making a television show is very collaborative; there’s a lot of consensus and there’s a lot of disagreement,” Overmyer says. “So finally, somebody has to be the one everyone looks at and goes, ‘Well, what do we do?’ So that’s kind of what [a showrunner] is.” Of course, the position of appointment varies from show to show, but for Overmyer, the role has had him invest himself in everything from being in charge of script writing to, of course, the actual creation of a series. All in all, he describes the job of a showrunner as a “first among equals,” learning to defer and delegate as the process progresses.
In an industry full of rejection and triumph, the idea of creativity is at the forefront of Overmyer’s mind. What makes the filming of The Man in the High Castle’s third season somewhat of a challenge (a good one, by all means, he notes) for the Hollywood veteran is the timing of his arrival on set. He enters into a plot line that is already established, with characters and backstories built. But perhaps jumping into the deep end is just another way of exploring creativity. “On a show like The Man in the High Castle, where I’m coming in on the third season, it’s taking what I’ve inherited, whether I like it or not, and dealing with it,” Overmyer says. He takes a sip of his latte and continues on with a chuckle, “If I survive this season, it’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve had in a long time. So maybe that’s how you stay creative: you take a job that tortures you.”