Calgary's film production ready to jump into high gear with new soundstages
A boom in the film industry has led to an explosion of development in Calgary's film infrastructure.
Calgary now has more than ten times the amount of soundstage space than it did in 2020, and it's attracting some big projects.
While many film productions come for Alberta's scenery - think everything from Legends of the Fall to Unforgiven to Brokeback Mountain - soundstages mean work can happen all year long.
A huge new soundstage has just been completed, and right beside it, construction is wrapping on another one just like it.
It's all a part of Rocky Mountain Film Studios' latest expansion, fuelled by a spike in demand.
"We've really gotten the attention of the L.A. market," said Rocky Mountain Film Studios executive vice-president Scott Evans. "It's been great."
Part of the mega-budget TV series The Last of Us was shot at Rocky Mountain Film Studios, in a retrofitted warehouse. The two soundstages opening soon are built specifically for film production, including specific wiring and completely sound-proofed.
Scene from HBO's The Last of Us, which was shot in Calgary and across Alberta in 2021-22
"It's one of the core aspects that the studios and streamers look for," said Luke Azevedo with Calgary Economic Development.
That's not all. The studio is also completing construction on a support building for set building building and costume creation.
"Essentially a one-stop shop," said Evans. "And it's really hard to find that anywhere."
"They've taken into consideration everything," said Damian Petti, President of IATSE Local 212. "Be it the speed of the Internet, be it the access for costumers, or the parking for a crew of 300, they've got it all.
"And so this is the first time we've seen it - studios at this level."
The growth in the city's film and television infrastructure is a major move to lock in more business.
"This is an industry that has an opportunity to be extremely impactful on Alberta and Calgary's economy as well as job creation here," said Azevedo.
The ripples from productions that spend millions of dollars will be felt right across a spectrum of Calgary small businesses, says Evans.
"It doesn't matter if you're a small coffee shop down the street, or you have a lumber store, or whatever you have," he says. "Everybody really is benefitting from a lot of cash coming to the area."
Alfter a booming 2022, 2023 looks promising.
"In a typical year, we see between 10 and 15 projects withh budgets over $10 million," says Petti. "This year, we're expecting to see more than that."
Seaon 2 of Fraggle Rock is being shot in Calgary
Rocky Mountain Film Studios says it has a big budget Netflix project moving in next month. They can't reveal the title, but say it will involve a lot of work in the wardrobe department of the support building they're constructing.
People in the industry say five productions are already shooting or being prepped in Calgary and five productions are expected to be greenlit in March, including two projects with budgets in excess of $100 million.
If you want to see what $100 million looks like on screen, The Last of Us, which spent a year shooting in Calgary and throughout locations across Alberta, debuts on Crave Sunday.
Calgary film production, 2022
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