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SYFY WIRE Resident Alien

Is Patience, Colorado Real? A Guide to the Shooting Locations of SYFY’s Resident Alien

With Season 3 underway in 2024, let's take a closer look at the beautiful locations that make up Patience, Colorado!

By Josh Weiss

The fictional town of Patience, Colorado, is — to quote the South Park movie from 1999 — a “quiet mountain town.” It’s a picturesque slice of Americana surrounded by snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes…and an alien pretending to be a human physician. 

How to Watch

Watch Resident Alien on SYFY and Peacock.

In other words, it’s the perfect setting for SYFY’s Resident Alien adaptation, whose production is not based in Colorado. “In real life, it was based here in Vancouver. That’s where 90 percent of the filming took place,” location manager Ken Brooker told SYFY WIRE ahead of the show's premiere in 2021 (the third season is now underway in 2024). “It’s where we had our stages; we had two sound stages and a handful of locations. We shot 10 episodes, so, on average, each episode probably had about a dozen or so locations within it.”

Where is SYFY's Resident Alien Filmed in Real Life?

Though the snowy mountains certainly look like Colorado, the SYFY original series Resident Alien is mostly filmed on soundstages in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"We have two soundstages," production Michael Joy explained over a Zoom call in 2024. "On the soundstages are the diner, the mayor's office, police station, and D’Arcy and Asta’s apartment. In the other studio, we have Harry's cabin, the Hawthornes’ house, and the bar. Then we have a little bit of room that we just cram our little swing sets into. What we can build out is very, very limited, because we've basically built out both our studios."

Max Hawthorne and Sahar speak near a lake and cabin in Resident Alien Episode 301.

While the majority of interior locations are shot on controlled soundstages, all of the exteriors are real-world backdrops. For example, the exterior of Harry’s cozy lakeside cabin is a facade at Britannia Beach, which actually borders an inlet, not a lake. “It’s part of the Howe Sound. … so you can cheat that reasonably and make it look like a lake,” Brooker explained.

"We searched everywhere looking for Harry's cabin, but the big scene in the pilot was a fight with an eight-foot high alien," Joy added. "Everybody realized pretty quickly that we were gonna have to build this as a set. We found this beautiful location outside of Vancouver that looks like it's on a lake, but it's not really on a lake. It’s on the ocean, We built the exterior of the cabin and then the interior of the cabin was built on a soundstage in Vancouver."

When it comes to sequences set atop snowy glaciers, the crew makes use of two frigid locations within British Columbia’s famous Sea-to-Sky Corridor: Rainbow Mountain and the Pemberton Ice Cap. “Both of those locations were helicopter access only,” Brooker revealed. “It was really a challenge to [get] people and gear and everything to and from [there].”

Is Patience, Colorado, a Real Place?

No. Patience, Colorado, is a fictional small town created for the SYFY series ​​​​​​Resident Alien

The real small town where Resident Alien is filmed

An aerial view of Ladysmith in British Columbia, Canada.

For the Patience exteriors and Main Street, the production leaves the comfort and familiarity of Vancouver’s city limits for Ladysmith, a small town on Vancouver Island that can only be accessed by ferry.

"It's a two-hour ferry ride," Joy revealed. "It’s like going to summer camp. We pack everything up. We've done it a bunch of times. We dress three blocks of the town. It's extremely well-organized ... We dress the whole thing, shoot for three days, shooting bits of all the different episodes. I think last season we went twice. I think we went three times for Season 2. It's kind of a military operation. It's fun. It's a great look. The town is beautiful. And it really was a mining town, so it fits the story really well."

“We essentially filmed it at about three or four historical blocks of downtown. The architecture came from the early 1900s,” assistant location manager Kevin McLean said. “To me, it was very similar to how we film in other blocks in Vancouver, but on a larger scale. We had to talk to the town’s council to get our traffic plan approved and we had to work with many little businesses for weeks in advance of the filming, which really only took place over two or three days.”

From the very beginning, Joy and showrunner Chris Sheridan wanted to present "a contemporary [version of] Norman Rockwell's America," the production designer continued. "It was the best of what American life promises; of community understanding, hard work. The things we kind of take for granted and the things we're not actually good about as humans — our aggressiveness and selfishness — but below all, that there's a kind of goodness ... It would be this upgrading of a Norman Rockwell America."

“Early on, the directive was, ‘You need to have a small town set in the mountains, kind of remote-ish,’” Brooker said. “It still needed to have enough infrastructure, it couldn’t be a sleepy little backwater, necessarily. It had to have some sense of character and a real sense of place. A lot of that came out through Ladysmith.”

He continued: “One of the main things is the fact that our three big anchor locations — our town hall, our town’s clinic, and this bar called ‘The 59’ — all had to be visually linked and they had to be within sight of each other. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack. You need to have the perfect locations individually for each of those things, but then they all have to be in geographic proximity, so we were very fortunate. Ladysmith was a real good find for us and it played well. It looks great on camera and the people there were very welcoming."

A grassy beach of a lake.

Much of the town's history is similar to the fictional town of Patience's as well. For example, coal mining was an important industry in Ladysmith, especially in the early 20th century, according to the town's website. And like in Resident Alien, the town suffered a coal mine explosion that killed 32 men in 1909. The similarities continue with the town's connection with local First Nation groups, specifically the Stz’uminus people.

What The Resident Alien Cast Does On Location

While filming in Ladysmith, the cast and crew frequent local haunts such as the vegan restaurant Plantitude. “It became really popular because a lot of the cast had specific dietary considerations, so it was kind of cool for them to find a place that literally catered to them,” Brooker explained. “Oddly enough, that particular restaurant is frequented by Pam Anderson. She actually lives in Ladysmith, believe it not. She’s from there and moved back; she’s sort of become the main patron of this place and it’s just attracted lots of people.”

Other popular joints include: Zack’s Lounge, Roberts Street Pizza, and Old Town Bakery. “There’s [also] an old hotel that was closed down that was just opened up [when we were there] and they had a pool table," Brooker concluded. "It had a small-town feel.”

How to Watch SYFY's Resident Alien TV Show

Resident Alien is currently in the midst of its third season, with new episodes airing on Wednesdays at 10/9c on SYFY, and streaming next day on Peacock.

The first two seasons of Resident Alien can be found on Peacock as well. The NBCUniversal platform currently offers two monthly subscription plans: Premium ($5.99 a month with ads) and Premium Plus ($11.99 a month with no ads and download access for certain titles). If you're a student, you can enjoy the Premium plan for just $1.99 for an entire year!

Looking for more SYFY Originals? ChuckyFace Off, and Paranormal Witness are also streaming on Peacock.

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Originally published Jan 20, 2021.