Police Academy (1984)

 

Produced by Paul Maslansky and Alan Ladd Jr.

Directed by Hugh Wilson

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​​The Police Academy franchise consists of seven movies, filmed over a 10-year span between 1984 and 1994. Police Academy I, III, and IV were filmed on the Lakeshore Grounds and at other sites around Toronto.

Toronto is never explicitly identified in the films, standing in instead for "Any City, U.S.A.," but there is no mistaking the familiar landmarks featured throughout the series. 

Click here for details about the filming of Police Academy III and Police Academy IV.

Filming on the Lakeshore Grounds

Police Academy filmed all over the Lakeshore Grounds: both inside and outside the red brick buildings as well as the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The movie offers a snapshot of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital property as it appeared at closure. In many ways, they simply replaced the sign for the Hospital with one for the Police Academy.

Production Designer Trevor Williams made the pitch to film on the Lakeshore Grounds, arguing that the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital buildings were the "perfect embodiment" of the police cadet training centre he envisioned for the films. The buildings were institutional in look, providing a serious backdrop to the comedic script. They wanted everything to seem as believable as possible - from the setting of the Academy to the uniforms worn by the actors to their training regimen.

The size of the grounds and their location along Lake Ontario were also cited as benefits, allowing the production team to bring in cranes and helicopters that could capture multiple views with a simple adjustment to the angle of the camera.

G Building

The Administration Building of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, today known as Humber College's G Building,  features prominently throughout the film. It serves as a main location in many of the exterior shots, with the new recruits arriving at its doors. The second floor alcove that overlooks the circular garden also served as the office of Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes).

Shoreline and Cricket Pitch

During the training of the new recruits, the shoreline of Colonel Samuel Smith Park serves as an extensive obstacle course complete with zip line. The recruits are also put through many of their drills on the Cricket Pitch south of the cottages with the chimney of the Powerhouse of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital clearly visible in the background. 

Although Police Academy was a comedy, Director Hugh Wilson wanted to sell a realistic backdrop - which extended beyond the setting of the film to the training of the recruits. To make the training as close to the actual experience demanded of police cadets as possible, Special Missions Group, an Ontario-based company, were hired  to consult on how to run an obstacle course. They also coached each of the actors in proper weapons handling.

Inner Courtyard of the Cottages

The inner courtyard of the cottages used by Humber College's Lakeshore campus looks very different from how it did in the early 1980s: there used to be a parking lot where the field is! Police Academy made use of this lot for their driving obstacle course.

The walking path of interlocking brick the runs along the inside of the cottages? It used to be roughly paved path with metal railings running along both sides, painted a maroon colour.

Look carefully!

 

The driving course in the inner courtyard provides something rather unique: the only images of the windows that used to be open to the underground tunnels! Made of wooden frames with glass panes, these windows are located at ground level inside the courtyard but are well above head when inside the tunnels. These openings were sealed when Humber College began renovations to convert the property for use by its students and staff.

The Assembly Hall

Physical drills continued for the recruits inside the buildings as well as outside. The Assembly Hall, built in 1898 by the patients of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and today operated by the City of Toronto, was used as a gymnasium. The room remains in use as a multi-purpose space to this day, accessed via the second floor of the building.

Cumberland House

The former residence of the Superintendent of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital that sits to the east of H Building was also highlighted in Police Academy: it served as the residence of Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes) and his wife. In one of the earlier scenes, new recruit Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) attempts to get himself kicked out of the Academy by sending a fellow recruit into the residence to collect their uniform. 

Fun Trivia

At the end of filming, actor Bruce Mahler (who played Doug Fackler) had a real-life police moment: in 1983 while Mahler was out at the Eaton's Centre on a Friday night, he witnessed a purse snatching and chased the young perpetrator for four blocks up Yonge street before actual police officers intervened and made the arrest.