The film’s trade mission from Los Angeles to Calgary has sparked interest from studios

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A recent trade mission to Los Angeles is already generating callbacks from studios scouting Calgary as a potential filming location, according to Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

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The mayor, accompanied by representatives from the Calgary film industry and Calgary Economic Development, traveled to Los Angeles last week to meet with studio executives for two days.

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The trip included a City of Calgary Film and Television Industry Night hosted by the Canadian Consul General in LA

“I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised that on the second day of the trip, we received two phone calls from people we had met the night before at the Consul General’s,” Gondek said.

“It was amazing to be there with a lot of our farming and ranching families, so they could talk firsthand about what their sites have to offer.”

John Scott, the owner of John Scott Productions and Scott Ranch in Longview, was invited on the trip. He said the local contingent had done a “sensational job” selling the city and province as a film location.

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“The mayor has done a great job talking to producers and executives from the various studios and welcoming them to Calgary, and there’s been tremendous interest,” Scott said. “We will be very busy next year.”

He confirmed he’s had at least one encore since the trip, and he knows other ranches have heard from the studios as well.

He said the studios were interested in much of what Calgary and Alberta have to offer, including several stand-up western sets that are available. Scott said this kind of existing infrastructure can help productions reduce filming costs.

Scott said what we need now is a bigger workforce, and he believes Albertans are more than ready to take on these new roles.

“There can be a big transition between the oil industry and the film industry,” Scott said. “The man of the land in the oil sector can become a man of the field in the cinema sector.”

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He said trades such as electricians are needed on film sets and directors can become production coordinators.

“Part of it is high-level expertise, like a soundman and special effects, things like that. But, still, you need people to come into the business so you can train them,” said he declared.

Scott has over 50 years of experience in the film industry and said last year was by far the strongest he had ever seen. He also praised the provincial government for seeing the potential and coming on board.

“Last year it employed just over 7,000 people and it’s just going to expand now,” Scott said.

In 2021, the film industry generated more than $500 million in spending in the local economy, according to figures from Calgary Economic Development.

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Teresa Copithorne, owner and manager of CL Western Town and Backlot, was also on the trip. His ranch was the backdrop for Lonesome Dove: The Series in the 1990s, and producers continue to use this set today for other projects.

Like Scott, she said she’s already had recalls as a direct result of the trip and expects word to spread quickly in the industry. She joked that in the film industry, you can’t sneeze without everyone else in the industry knowing about it.

“It just has a ripple effect,” Copithorne said. “You know, the producers who work for Sony, they know those of Hallmark or MGM. So they all talk to each other.

Gondek said she also received good feedback and heard that producers were already calling with requests.

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“We were told by Amazon and Netflix that they were incredibly impressed that we knew what they were looking for, that we had all their questions answered,” the mayor said.

  1. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek speaks to the media outside council chambers on Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

    Gondek and CED head to Hollywood for a two-day trade mission

  2. Savj, a Tank Standing Buffalo short, will be featured in Alberta Spirts at the Calgary International Film Festival.

    Spotlight on Alberta films at the Calgary International Film Festival this fall

She said it was still too early to talk about the timing of upcoming projects, but said those announcements would come as soon as possible.

“There’s a big process that Calgary Economic Development has to go through with these different companies,” Gondek said. “So hopefully we can tell you everything we know as soon as we find out.”

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Twitter: @brodie_thomas

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