Calgary recognized as a top place to live and work for movie makers

·2 min read
Photos from the set of the FX miniseries Under The Banner of Heaven, taken outside the Palace Theatre on Stephen Avenue in Downtown Calgary on Dec. 14. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)
Photos from the set of the FX miniseries Under The Banner of Heaven, taken outside the Palace Theatre on Stephen Avenue in Downtown Calgary on Dec. 14. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)

Move over, Hollywood.

Calgary has been named a blockbuster city for those who make film and television.

The city made MovieMaker Magazine's list of best places to live and work as a filmmaker in 2022, placing 10th among 25 big cities in North America.

Cities are ranked by production spending, tax incentives, recent productions and personal visits.

Calgary offers stunning backgrounds of mountains and lakes, wheat fields and urban centres, but screen time for Alberta's photographic vistas might not have been possible if the provincial government had not removed the funding cap for projects last year.

That cap limited film and television productions to a maximum $10-million tax credit claim.

Luke Azevedo, film commissioner with Calgary Economic Development, says that was a game changer.

Millions in production spending

"What Minister [Doug] Schweitzer was able to do with the change in the incentives hit the mark globally, and we felt the impact immediately," said Azevedo, who is also vice-president of creative industries and operations with the agency.

Production spending topped $520 million in the Calgary region in the past year, with Calgary Economic Development facilitating 123 projects and more than 500 filming permits.

Included in those projects were some high profile productions such as HBO's The Last Of Us, the reboot of the children's classic Fraggle Rock, and other series for streaming services Apple TV+ and Netflix.

And there are more on the docket for 2022.

Damian Petti, president of Local 212 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, says he was happy to see Calgary highlighted in an industry magazine.

"Our capacity has massively increased by tenfold in terms of sound stages. And then our attractiveness for the film incentives, the tax credit, has also increased. So it's not surprising that we're climbing the charts," Petti said.

That's translating into more job opportunities.

Conor Samphire is a training locations manager on HBO's The Last Of Us, an adaptation of the popular post-apocalyptic video game.

He says Calgary made the list but he thinks of it more as an Alberta recognition and is proud of that.

Things are busy now, but knowing what it was like two years ago, when the province's filming slate was almost bare, Samphire says he doesn't take the work for granted.

"It's been so bare-bones for so long. Everybody here in Alberta knows how to work hard and make sure that the best quality stuff is coming out to try to attract more. And now that everybody's coming, we're not going to sit back and not work that hard. It's very much we're good — good workers with a lot of talent," Samphire said.

Calgary was one of four Canadian cities to make the list. Toronto came in second, Montreal fourth and Vancouver sixth.

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