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Calgary: Award-winning production epicentre

Alberta has had more Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe wins in the last 15 years than any other province in Canada. At the very centre of it all, Calgary leads the charge.

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Calgary: Award-winning production epicentre

Alberta has had more Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe wins in the last 15 years than any other province in Canada. At the very centre of it all, Calgary leads the charge.
The Calgary Peace Bridge is one of many unique filming locations in Calgary, Alberta.

The Calgary Peace Bridge is one of many unique filming locations in Calgary, Alberta.

As the production home of major series like Netflix’s Black Summer, FX’s Fargo, SyFy’s Wynonna Earp, and the upcoming motion picture Rust City (a.k.a. Ghostbusters 2020), Calgary has proven itself a favourite when it comes to providing the perfect backdrop for film and TV projects.

The Calgary Film Centre is at the epicentre of this hustle and bustle, serving as a trusted partner to these and over 600 other film, television and digital production projects that made the City of Calgary their home in 2018 alone.

Conveniently located 20 minutes from the city and 25 minutes from the airport, facilities include three purpose-built sound stages that cover 50,000 sq. ft., and an additional 25,000 sq. ft. of workshop and warehouse space. Add Canada’s largest provider of production equipment and on-site tenant William F. White into the mix, and it is a one-stop shop that can meet virtually all production needs.

“We service projects of all different sizes from indie to commercial, from small to large, and full-budget projects,” notes Calgary Film Centre Business Development Manager Erin O’Connor. “The Film Centre and the jurisdiction have been able to service individual client needs very well. We try to be a no-surprise jurisdiction and stand on
our reputation.”

The Calgary Film Centre boasts three purpose-built sound stages that cover 50,000 sq.ft., and an additional 25,000 sq. ft. of workshop and warehouse space.

The Calgary Film Centre boasts three purpose-built sound stages that cover 50,000 sq.ft., and an additional 25,000 sq. ft. of workshop and warehouse space.

That reputation includes providing world-class crews and ensuring that productions run seamlessly, along with trying to anticipate as many production needs as possible.

“We’re considered a location that is going well above and beyond, making sure that facilitating the production of film and TV is front and centre,” states Luke Azevedo, Commissioner, Film, Television & Creative Industries at Calgary Economic Development. “We are film-friendly: we are the one-window access to permitting in and around the city that
ensures the ability to get the project done in the manner that directors and producers need to have it done.”

That means connecting early in the production’s lifespan with location managers and location scouts to ensure the most successful results. “Everything is addressed with the city early on so that we have a longer term to deal with things that can be complicated or complex, like street shutdowns,” Azevedo confirms. “By the time a project gets here, all of the logistics have been worked out.”

Financially, there are also attractive incentives. Unlike every other province, Alberta has no sales tax. It will also contribute up to 26% of all eligible Alberta expenses for foreign productions at a cap of $7.5 million per project, with the Federal Government kicking in an additional 16% labour tax credit for nonAlbertan crew members who are Canadian citizens.

The Badlands and the Rocky Mountains provide a glimpse at Alberta's diverse filming locations – all within driving distance from Calgary.

The Badlands and the Rocky Mountains provide a glimpse at Alberta’s diverse filming locations – all within driving distance from Calgary.

And then there’s the spectacular geography that Calgary and its surrounding area has to offer. “For projects that require specific looks and vistas, we have the Rocky Mountains, the Prairies and the Badlands – as well as two municipalities of over 1 million people all within a three hour radius,” Azevedo enthuses, adding that it’s actually possible to film in the studio and in the Rockies in the same day.

“The quality of projects that have come out of this province are worldclass, critically acclaimed and award-winning,” he adds. Having been the production home for more Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy wins in the last fifteen years than any other province in Canada, the bar for success is set high indeed.