@KallieRoss’s City of Bones Set Visit

Jul 11th, 2013 | By | Category: Book News, Fandom, Featured Articles, Movie News, Podcasts, Site News


I know what you’re thinking… Why in the world were you invited to the City of Bones movie set? Let me tell you, I wondered the same thing at first!  I am a HUGE fan of Cassandra Clare, and The Mortal Instruments were some of TST’s first Book(s) of the Month(s), way back when! You can read about my afternoon on set, or watch the videos… I hope you enjoy!


After piling into a bus with several bloggers, we arrived at what looked like a warehouse. We each walked into a large office area and handed over our cell phones (then they hid them). I don’t have any pictures or video of the day, but I will do my best to describe the adventure accurately. Each blogger was given a set of rubber bracelets to commemorate our visit. The purple, yellow and black bracelets had ‘The Mortal Instruments’ and ‘Toronto 2012’ embossed on them.

As we began our journey onto the set, I noticed a few pieces of art that hung on the wall.  They were beautiful, and we were informed that it was conceptual art for the film. The pieces included Clary pulling the Mortal Cup out of a tarot card, a giant monster coming out of the ceiling, and Jace & Clary surrounded by magic.

Cassandra Clare, and a few others, guided us to the Wardrobe Department. We saw character boards when we first entered the ‘hall’ filled with fabric. There was a board for each cast member/character that had pictures of outfits covering them. Mannequins stood next to the boards, and the first wore Magnus’ robe, with a hood, and wide belt. A second mannequin wore Isabelle’s white lace dress and black belt, while a third mannequin wore Jace’s Shadowhunter gear.

Gersha Phillips, the Costume Designer, explained that she was preparing for shooting the party scene at Magnus’ apartment. She was so gracious, and let us walk through racks of clothing and watch the seamstresses work. We first saw a woman making a fairy costume/dress for Magnus’ party, then we noticed racks separated with signs marked Vamps, Werewolves, and character names like ‘Luke’ and ‘Jace’.

I never thought I would see demon pants ever being made, but toward the back of the department a couple people were destroying black pants for actors to wear in the scene at Magnus’ party. I was also stoked to see the robes worn in the City of Bones.  They were on a rack that stood at least six or seven feet tall.

Lastly, Gersha led us to her office where she had inspiring images hanging behind her desk. There was a photo of Jamie Campbell Bower getting his hair bleached, with foils and all. There was also a photo of Lily trying on one of her costumes. Gersha also had all of the cast photos (headshots) lined across top of her office wall, and artwork for the creatures in the film was hanging near the door. There was also a board in the office that had all of the runes on it.


After the Wardrobe Department, we were guided to the actually movie sets.  The warehouse was the size of a football field, and we had to be extremely quiet because they were filming in Madame Dorothea’s Apartment. We walked around it, and headed to Clary and Jocelyn’s apartment. There was no furniture inside the mock apartment, but it was lined along the side of the set. The crew was in the process of putting break-away glass into the windows for filming.

The Institute Library was the next stop on the tour, and it was amazing! There were stained glass windows with angel images, and bookshelves stood empty around the room. We were told the shelves would be filled with faux books soon for filming. There was a giant portal in staircase, and the floor was lined with copper tape, creating a beautiful pattern. Creepy ravens were carved in the pillars of a table that caught my eye, and the set designer explained that they were planning to break down all of the sets to store them for future movies.

I was in awe of the Institute Gates that stretched across one end of the warehouse. They were planning to place a green screen behind it for CGI to work its movie magic. The carved angels on either side of the gate were my favorite feature of the gate, and I’m sure they’ll look beautiful in the movie.

Along the side of the warehouse, there were pieces of different sets being worked on. The portal door from the Institute Library was laying out, and it was separated down the middle so that we could see the carvings on the front and back. The designs were intricate, and reminded me of the runes.

Our next stop was the Art Department office. There was a magnificent painting of an angel they were working on, and the angel had cut his hand and was pouring his blood into the Mortal Cup.  The Art Director admitted that his daughter was a fan of  The Mortal Instruments, and he was very excited to be working on the film. The department was busy printing pictures of old book spines, and they were all for the bookshelves in the library. They were also working on the graphic design of the stained glass for the library.

We walked back to the room full of sets and found the City of Bones. This set was by far my favorite. We were surrounded by walls made of bone and skulls, and the floor looked like ancient marble. The crew set out chairs for everyone, as well as a flat screen so we could watch some of the filming. When we got to the chairs we noticed that we each had one with our name on it. We were all encouraged to move to the middle of the room, and talk to each other, and that’s when we noticed an eery echo. There was a tunnel that we noticed behind the bone wall, and it was lined with skulls that has eyes staring at us. It was better than anything I could have expected for the City of Bones!


The Prop Department set up a table with several props for us to check out between takes, and I was enthralled with how much work went into this part of the storytelling. The first thing we saw was Isabelle’s Snake Bracelet/Whip. They decided to make it silver instead of gold, for CGI purposes, and they produced different lengths and sizes for filming. We passed around the bracelet, the handle for CGI with a blunt tip, the handle with a short extension, and the full kangaroo whip that had to be painted over and over because the silver kept rubbing off.

The Steles came out next. One was silver with runes all over it, and a LED light at tip that pulsed and faded. Isabelle’s stele was red with a silver snake wrapped around it. The Swords were the coolest prop. They tried, and failed, producing crystal swords, so they tried a vacuumed resin, and it worked. They created different sizes for different characters and fighting scenes. Isabelle’s was shorter, and the different lengths for stabbing/action scenes were switched out as they filmed. The swords had to be stored in padded cases so they wouldn’t break, because the resin could crack easily.

The Seraph Blades had black handles with silver blades, and the Morgenstern Ring was silver, with a reversible M & W. I got to try it on when it was passed around, and I was surprised by how heavy it was. The Mortal Cup was made by a jewelry maker and she made the cup around a special piece of blown glass. The small ball of glass was blown for the handle and had a teardrop hole for fake blood. Next we passed around a Witch Light, with a rune inscribed on it. The light was taped to the back of it, because they couldn’t figure out a way to manage the light if it were built into them, but not all of them had lights.

When we were done looking at all of the props, we walked to a conference room located on a second level that I hadn’t even noticed before. We were getting ready to start the interviews with the cast, and filed into the room and around a very large table. I was the last person into the room, and when I sat down I noticed two empty chairs next to me. Cassandra Clare, and a few representatives from Sony were also sitting at the table across from me. Jemima West (Isabelle) and Kevin Zegers (Alec) came in first.  It was their day off, and both were so very excited to meet everyone. Jemima sat next to me, and her slight French accent was so fun to listen too. I fully expected Kevin to say ‘Ey’ at some point, since he’s Canadian, but he never did. It was very interesting that they both had hats on and drank Diet Cokes, almost like they were in sibling-mode off-camera.

After a small interlude, Jamie Campbell Bower (Jace) walked into the room in full make-up and wardrobe. He walked straight over the chair next to me and made himself comfortable. I noticed that his was significantly larger than the last time I saw him, at the Breaking Dawn Premiere. Jamie had beefed up quite a bit, and he seemed much taller.  I’m not sure if it was the movie working its magic, or if it was all the leather. Jamie was wearing his shadowhunter gear (lots-o-leather) and his leather pants were torn up, like he’d just been in a fight.  We all noticed a huge bruise on his forehead, and he explained that it wasn’t just make-up, but that the bruise was the result of a fight scene he recently filmed. The coolest part of Jamie’s wardrobe that that we could see a rune tattoo peeking out of the neck of his gray shirt.

While we waited to see who would show up next, we were given the opportunity to ask Cassandra Clare a few questions. She was a great hostess on the set and walked with us throughout the day. She wore a cute green dress with purple accents, and seemed to be loving the set as much as we were. The coolest thing I learned was that Cassandra didn’t hound the cast about the characters they were playing, but she wanted them to have the freedom to interpret them the way her readers do.

With filming in progress, we were asked to move down to the City of Bones set while we waited for Lily (Clary) and Robert (Simon). When we arrived there were copies of City of Bones (the novel) sitting in our chairs, and each of the cast members had signed them.We spent a few minutes looking over them, and compared the messages Robert Sheehan left with his autograph. (He totally asked me to marry him!)

We watched a few minutes of playback on the flat screen in the room, and got settled.  Then Lily Collins (Clary) entered the City of Bones set. She was in her own Shadowhunter gear, and explained that she was about to film the scene where she rescues Simon in Dorothea’s apartment. She wore a black leather jacket, and her black pants were just as torn up as Jamie’s. She had leather gloves on that the fingers were cut off of, and wore some amazing rings. Her make-up was made to look dirty, like she’d been fighting. We did have to stop between questions a few times while filming was going on, but Lily was patient and genuine. She was a fan of the novels before she got the role of Clary, so it was great to hear her thoughts on the novels and characters, as well as what she thought of the filming so far.

The most wacky thing that happened on set was the arrival of an ice cream truck. We all took a break and walked outside to get ice cream, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a pimped out food truck filled with several flavors of ice cream, and any topping you could ever want. After we all surrendered to our sweet tooth we took a group picture with Cassandra Clare along the side of the building.

Robert Sheehan (Simon) was the last interview we did (Simon is also my favorite character in the series), and he kept it very interesting. We made our way back to the City of Bones, and he came and left once for filming in the middle of first questions. When he returned he wanted to know who we all were, to put faces with names.  He explained to me that since I was already married in the U.S. our nuptials would only stand in Canada. Robert spoke with a slight Irish accent, and wore a ‘Made in Brooklyn’ t-shirt with a red hoodie. He was in his wardrobe for playing Simon, and admitted that he and Simon had similar taste. When filming I noticed that Robert slipped into and out of his American accent easily, he also slid into playing the character Simon easily. I admit that I preferred his natural charm, in Robbie-mode, and his Irish accent.


To end the day on set, we watched a few scenes they recently filmed. One scene was Jace and Isabelle tending to Alec with a Stele, and another was Dorothea being possessed and Simon attacking her. The best part of this scene was that Robert (Simon) had to straddle Dorothea to gain control. (A few of us couldn’t stop giggling at this since we had all just met Robert.) Jace and Clary rescue Simon just in time, and the scene ended with them all leaving the apartment.

Before leaving Cassandra took a few minutes to sign our books, and then the director Harald Zwart stopped by to say “Hi!” As we all left, and recovered our cell phones, we saw Robbie going to ‘lunch’ even though it was pretty late in the evening. We headed to dinner with Cassie, Jordan, Kat, and Karen. It was delicious, and a great way to recap our day and discuss what we loved most about the visit.

I took YOUR questions, YOUR videos, YOUR artwork, and YOUR favorite quotes with me to the set… It was an honor to relay your thoughts to the cast and filmmakers. Over the next few hours TST will release the interviews, so stay tuned!

*All links to interviews will be live at noon (Pacific) each day following this post!

Thursday (Today) at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Cassie Clare
Friday at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Jamie Campbell Bower
Monday at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Robert Sheehan
Tuesday at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Kevin Zegers and Jemima West
Wednesday at 3pm ET/Noon PT: Lily Collins

So, for the last several months I have been holding on to some pictures from my trip to Toronto! Here they are…

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