The Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton is playing the part of 18th century Manhattan this week as The Book of Negroes television miniseries starts filming.
The historic fortress is in costume this week, but gone are any traces of the original French settlers. The settlement has been subtly retouched to become New York City in 1776.
The director says the location couldn't be better.
“When I came out here and walked around, I was amazed and blown away by just the sheer size of it and how you can really just turn the camera at any direction and be able to shoot,” said Clement Virgo.
The six-part series, based on the acclaimed book, tells the story of an African woman named Aminata Diallo who is kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in the southern U.S. She later makes her way to Halifax and, finally, to England at the turn of the 19th century.
The series began filming in South Africa and has moved to a dozen different locations
Lawrence Hill wrote the award-winning novel and helped write the screenplay. He said it’s interesting to watch the actors and director interpret his text.
“It’s fascinating, it’s a great honour,” he said.
The fortress has been a film set before, but this is one of the biggest productions.
Close to 100 local people are on scene as extras.
“A call went out to all the fortress employees asking if we’d be interested. And you know, it’s always a great way to spend your day — on a movie set at the fortress and the weather is beautiful. All of the things worked out,” said Jenna Lahey, an extra.
People in Cape Breton hope it will generate more publicity for the fortress and the local film industry.
The cast of the series includes Oscar winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr.
The Canada-South Africa co-production will air on CBC in Canada and BET in the United States in early 2015.