Meet Nils Jensen, mayor of two towns: Oak Bay and Gracepoint

You won’t find his name on the cast list alongside David Tennant and Nick Nolte, but Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen sure felt like a movie star when Gracepoint moved into his hood on Tuesday.

“I’ll now be able to be mayor of two municipalities — that’ll be my claim to fame,” quipped Jensen, who also became honorary mayor of Gracepoint after welcoming cast and crews to Oak Bay on the first day of principal photography for Shine America’s 10-episode TV series inspired by Broadchurch.

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“And they’re off …” tweeted writer, executive producer and Broadchurch creator Chis Chibnall, on Tuesday morning, with a link to Tuesday’s Times Colonist story.

“There’s buzz everywhere,” said Jensen, echoing the mood on Oak Bay Avenue Tuesday during filming of scenes at the former Guardian Pharmacy, posing as the Gracepoint Journal newspaper office.

“You just can’t get away from the interest in what’s going on here,” Jensen said. “I don’t think many people have seen production at such a high level, and people seem impressed by their openness.”

In Gracepoint, slated to air on Fox as a 2014-15 event series, Tennant plays Det. Emmett Carver, lead investigator on a murder case in the northern California town portrayed by the capital region.

A random poll of passersby confirmed Jensen’s comments about the immediate impact of filming.

For the most part, pedestrians and elderly locals on scooters were curious but took the filming in stride as they passed “Business open during filming” signs.

Crowds gathered early near the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Foul Bay Road, many hoping for a glimpse of actor Kevin Zegers in action as reporter Owen Burke. It typified the public fascination with a shoot that has drawn unprecedented attention to Victoria through social media.

Many were intrigued by a white delivery truck loaded with bundles of the March 24, 2014, edition of the Gracepoint Journal, the local newspaper with a tagline that reads: Celebrating the Everyday.

“You’re not in Victoria anymore, Dorothy,” joked one wag after noticing the Journal’s weather forecast used Fahrenheit — 59 degrees — to feature the temperature on its front page.

Tuesday’s shoot was just part of action to be filmed on Oak Bay Avenue, including scenes at Oaks Restaurant and Grill, where crews installed new window treatments and other touches on Monday.

“We’re the B&B in Gracepoint,” said Isa Hosein, recalling he and co-owner Nick Hopkins were first approached as potential providers of a recurring location six weeks ago.

“The exposure and excitement and jazz they’re bringing to the avenue is exciting, for sure,” Hosein said. “We have to close a bunch of days but we’re thrilled being part of the action.”

Oak Bay council unanimously approved road closures for a logistically challenging Feb. 10 shoot, Jensen said.

“It will be a closure much like we have for market evenings or the car show,” he said. “It’s not the whole avenue, just about three blocks.”

mreid@timescolonist.com

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