The Rabbit Lane Project
I’m Douglas Coupland and welcome to the Rabbit Lane Project. Its goal is the creation of a series of large-format photos to be shot in late August of 2021. These photos will draw on the themes and storyline of my 1998 novel, Girlfriend in a Coma. The works, set in 1979 and 1996, aim to create an almost supernatural sense of a spell being cast on West Vancouver’s Rabbit Lane neighborhood where the novel takes place. The photos need not be taken in the neighborhood itself, but in North Shore locations that are of the same era and aura. The works will be exhibited in March 2022 at the West Vancouver Museum.
I’m asking people in North and West Van to volunteer locations, props and acting services for these works. Community engagement is a part of the project’s process, and my thanks go to the North Shore News for their assistance.
Shooting date is the last week of August, historically the driest week of the year here.
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Some conceptual details about the project…
(This is a statement from the West Vancouver Art Museum)
“In 1998, Douglas Coupland published Girlfriend in a Coma, a work of fiction that traces the lives of a group of friends from their teenage years through to middle-age. Set in West Vancouver, the story centers around Karen McNeil, who falls into a coma that last 17 years. When she awakens, the friends come together once again to face an impending apocalypse. The novel, which weaves deftly between literary genres, comes with a moral and a warning.
“The book is set in West Vancouver’s Rabbit Lane neighbourhood which Coupland chose because he spent much time there growing up and he always saw it as “a place that time forgot.”
“The West Vancouver Art Museum is pleased to be working with Coupland to present a series of photographs stemming from the book, which will be staged in the local community. “
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Here’s what I need for the shoots:
Houses of a certain era
Anyone who’s watched TV or films shot in Vancouver can tell it’s Vancouver almost immediately because of the houses in the background, and the plant life that surrounds them. Many of these houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s from blueprints supplied (basically) for free by the CMHC (the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation). Check the following examples. People of my own generation all know these houses intimately — we grew up in them, we partied in them — and helped our parents move out of them. And this is the sort of house Ideal for the shoot.
Wear and Tear
But… I’m also hoping that people might not mind if I messed with the house a bit. Nothing destructive… something like adhering duct tape on the windows or using spray-chalk to “spray paint” surfaces. Again, nothing permanent. But… if there’s a surface that’s going anyway, perhaps it might be possible to be genuinely intrusive. It could be a case-by-case situation.
But… I really really want to do a definitive 1970s house-wrecking party photo. So if you’re about to demolish a place, this is the last chance to let it shine.
These things are all over the North Shore. I suppose the people who own them not only don’t live in them, they probably don’t even remember owning them. Having said this, perhaps you have a derelict house that might be used. (I’m not holding my breath, but I had to ask.)
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In 1979 what car did you drive to high school in? If you borrowed your dad’s car, what was it? Do you currently own one of these cars? Want to help it have a more interesting life?
Also, in 1996 what car did you drive to high school in?
Are you feeling and looking like a 1979 high school graduate? Then maybe you’d be into being a photo model in this gig. By and large I tend to not physically or racially define characters in my novels, so all of its characters are wide open for casting. The main characters are:
Karen age 18
Jared age 18
Richard age 18 + 36
Hamilton age 18 + 36
Pam age 18 + 36
Wendy age 18 + 36
Linus age 18 + 36
Karen’s mother 42
Karen’s father 44
Richard’s mother 44
Richard’s father 43
Megan age 16
I’m also wondering if there are any parents out there with mini-me children in these categories who might be interested in being a 1979 v. 1996 duo. Think about it?
Also, are you into styling and wardrobe? And might you be willing to loan assistance? It doesn’t pay, but it will be fun and good resumé fodder.
If you wanted to volunteer in any capacity, it would be for free, and hanging around during a shoot can be really really boring, but then you would also be a part of a project that attempts to take us out of the everyday world and places us in an unexplored new place. That’s what this is all about.
I’m not out to exploit people… there’s just almost no budget, and the point is to do a project on the North Shore that is about North and West Van. And August can get so boring, especially near the end… this would be something to do.
If you have a house or car that you think would be appropriate — or if would like to volunteer in the project as a model or set person, please send jpegs and mp4s to:
We’ll be updating this blog in the weeks leading up to the shoot. If you have thoughts or ideas, please send them along. It’s going to be interesting no matter what.
And yes, this is me 44 years ago in 1977
And this is me now. Trust me, time flies.
All the more reason to be doing this.