Made-in-Alberta Film Land brings international attention to vibrant local film and television industry, led by award-winning crews


CALGARY – Alberta’s landscapes are more than ready for their close-up, judging by some of the reviews received for Earth, an Alberta-made feature film directed by Robin Wright.

The New York Times made Earth a “critics’ choice” last week, although it seemed the newspaper was more in love with the cinematography than the plot of the film, written by the crew of Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam.

“The beauty of the mountainous regions of Alberta, Canada is presented in both lush and piercing fashions in Robin Wright’s first feature film, Earthwrites critic Glenn Kenny.

(Earth was produced by Chad Oakes of Calgary and Nomadic Pictures of Mike Frislev with Leah Holzer and Peter Saraf of Big Beach and Allyn Stewart and Lora Kennedy of Flashlight Films.)

In People, Wright spoke to reporter Kara Warner about the experience of filming a movie in Kananaskis Country in October 2019.

“The weather in Alberta is very unpredictable,” she said, “and mean and you have to be prepared to shoot a summer scene in 75 degree weather with the sun out, and then all of a sudden 30 minutes later [adapt to] a deluge of rain and wind and freezing temperatures, ”she explains. “So you kind of had to keep jumping with the program, but it was worth it because it was so much more authentic. What you see [onscreen] was we there, the breath coming out of our mouth in the cabin, it was so cold. “


It is not only the landscapes of Alberta that have helped propel Earth, That is.

It was the local crew, said IATSE 212 President Damian Petti.

“Over 95 percent of the team that worked on this production were Albertans many of whom held key creative positions, such as production designer (largely responsible for the appearance of the production), Trevor Smith,” Petti wrote, in an email to CTV News.

“Over 150 Albertans worked on this project. Alberta has always been known for its spectacular views and the hardy, dynamic attitude of our teams who often work in extreme locations and climates with great efficiency.

Earth is just one of many film and television productions that have landed in southern Alberta in recent months, a list that includes Tribal (APTN), Jann (Bellmedia), Joe pickett (Paramount), a restart of Fragile rock (Apple TV Plus), Guilty Party (CBS), while producers say they have no longer wait for crews and studio space to be available.

Throw in the last ghost hunters Kevin Costner movie and drama Let him go, both of which were filmed in Calgary and High River, in addition to a recent Hallmark movie, and Alberta’s film and television industry is on a roll that some industry experts say could translate into by injecting $ 400 million into the Alberta economy at a time when it is particularly fragile.

Earth, cinema, Demian, Bichir

(Demian Bichir co-stars in Land with Robin Wright. Photo credit: Daniel Power / Focus Features)


For Calgary producer Chad Oakes of Nomadic Pictures, part of the boom is because Vancouver no longer has a (production) hostel room and no more crews to spare.

“There’s a natural fallout in Alberta because their teams are overloaded,” Oakes wrote in an email to CTV News.

Another unlikely catalyst for producers to choose Alberta is the pandemic, Oakes said.

“Alberta had implemented the YYC pilot program which allowed incoming actors and crew from US / Europe to only have to quarantine 48 hours, instead of 14 days as in the rest of Canada, ”Oakes said. “A bunch of high profile shows with big stars felt it was the most convenient for their talent.”

What worries Oakes is that the quarantine rules have changed (to eight days) and will change again next week – although his production company Nomadic Pictures is currently in full swing, with a Netflix series in pre-production. in Vancouver, and two new TV series and two feature films in search of a location.

“The hope was to shoot in Alberta, but there are no teams available until the summer,” he said. “And we’re now competing with our studio partners on their other shows, so we don’t know where or when we can shoot them.”

Luke Azevedo, the commissioner of Film, television and creative industries at Calgary Economic Development, said the boom has resulted in growing infrastructure being installed in the city, as 2021 is shaping up to be one of the best the local film and television industry has seen.

“We anticipate that we will see a growth in the team base, an even greater absorption of infrastructure in the industrial and office space, as there are now organizations that have now moved into the region. with an office that are studio owners or operators, or suppliers of equipment for the film and television industry, ”Azevedo said in an interview with CTV News.

“Some of the biggest in the world and some of the biggest in Canada have now taken up residence in Alberta,” he added, “and are moving into a warehouse space that has been laid out and created in Alberta that is committed long-term filming and TV. “

“These are not isolated cases,” he said. “It’s about having facilities accessible to the film and television industry over the next five to ten years.

Earth hit theaters in North America on February 12. However, with most theaters closed in Canada, it is expected to receive a premium Video on Demand (PVOD) release the first week of March.


Gladys T. Hensley

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