June 24th, 2024

Good times for Alberta’s film and television industry


By Tim Kalinowski on August 11, 2021.

Herald FILE photo Crew work around the iconic ambulance/hearse Ecto-1 during a break in shooting on the set of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" during production in 2019 in Fort Macleod. The film is expected to be released this fall.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

It’s good times for Alberta’s film and television industry with over 50 productions being filmed representing a billion in value in the province this year, and Associate Minister for Rural Economic Development Nate Horner is confident the benefits will be widespread for the entire Alberta economy.
“A lot of the studio space and studio time is in Calgary,” Horner explains. “There is also one in Edmonton. But a lot of the filming, we are seeing that in the Fort Macleods, High Rivers and Drumheller. And, of course, the mountains get a lot of scene time.
“Fort Macleod is certainly benefiting from having a great location and backdrop,” he adds. “Much like Drumheller, High River- and I think as this plays out it is just going to cascade through rural areas. There will be more small towns as fortunate as Fort Macleod.”
Horner says over 9,000 jobs have been created in the Alberta film industry, and it is having a trickle down effect on various local trades and on the hospitality and tourism industries.
“There is so much spin-off employment,” he states. “You know in construction and these small town trades benefit greatly. It is very helpful. It works so well with our tourism sector. It is really complementing that sector well. It’s diversifying the economy.”
Horner points to the provincial government’s decision to increase funding for its Film and Television Tax Credit and to take off per production caps earlier this year for helping to bring larger productions to the province like HBO’s “Last of Us.”
“We lifted the per production cap, which is important if we did want these big ticket shows,” he confirms. “With HBO’s ‘Last of Us’ choosing Alberta, we can definitely say that’s paying dividends.”
While Alberta has always been a popular place to film because of its diverse landscapes and good studio infrastructure all in close proximity to one another, Horner says with “massive growth” going on in the provincial film industry at the moment his government foresees challenges, such as labour shortages, ahead which it will work to meet.
“You do need a certain critical mass of infrastructure,” he states. “You need so much studio space. And right now HBO’s production is taking a lot of that up in the province on such a massive production. I think we are just going to try to keep growing and listening to that industry, and help them work through the growing pains because we are in that phase of massive growth.”

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