Series on pipeline industry set to begin filming in Sundre, Alta.
SUNDRE, ALTA. -- The pilot for a series the producers hope will be picked up by Netflix is about to start shooting in the central Alberta community of Sundre.
Produced by Raoul Bhatt, an Edmonton tech entrepreneur turned filmmaker, Pipe Nation will focus on the men and women working in Canada’s oil field and pipeline sector.
Bhatt says he wants to show the world a more positive image of the industry and its workers than is often portrayed on screen.
“We show our latest technology, our care for the environment, our reclamation.” said Bhatt “Things that the world does not see and that the media around the world loves to miss-understand about who we are.”
On Tuesday morning, hundreds of Sundre area residents turned out for a casting call to be extras in the show.
Some, like Larry Frischke , were attracted by the pro energy perspective the series will portray.
“One of the most important things to me is that it's the whole oil industry is misunderstood," said Frischke.
“Everybody wants to oppose it and yet everybody wants the benefits of all the products that it's given us.”
Others like Gracie Jackson were just excited to see a movie production coming to their small town.
“I’m just so excited," said Jackson.
“Sundre’s such a small town and something big is coming here.”
Alberta film production has been at a standstill since it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Securing one of the first productions since the province’s reopening is a big win, according to Sundre’s economic development officer Jon Allen
”You've got this massive expenditure that will be spent and distributed among all the different local businesses that exist in the Sundre and District Trade Area,” said Allen.
“Which benefits of course our community, creates jobs, it sustains jobs, it means that businesses will stay open longer.”
According to the film production advocacy group Keep Alberta Rolling, small towns and rural communities benefit most from film production in the province. The group's head of advocacy, Brock Skretting, says that’s why the Alberta government should do more to help the industry.
“We should be encouraging it through a tax credit. (One) that doesn't limit how many productions can shoot here per year,” said Skretting.
“Because we're in rural towns, we're buying our gas from the local gas station. We're buying our coffee from the local coffee shop. We're staying in the local hotels, where we're using local suppliers.”
At Tuesday morning’s casting call, Bhatt told the crowd he is attempting to hire an “all Alberta” cast and crew. His two lead actors were both pipeline workers in the province before chosen to star in Pipe Nation.
The shows female lead, Natallie Gamble, is a third-generation pipeline worker from Bonneyville, Alta.
“I flaunt everything I do in pipelines, our strength, and our pride, our sacrifice,” she said.
“It's what makes this country roll, and we need to continue showing that. I want to represent the people and not just the industry.”
The 60-minute pilot will be shot in the Sundre area over 12 days in August.
Bhatt expects it will take two to three months of post-production before being sent to Netflix for final approval.
If the streaming giant gives the OK, the rest of Season 1 of Pipe Nation will go into production in May 2021.