Ministry of Arts and Culture evaluating bids for new facility


Calgary film makers are currently awaiting a budget verdict from Alberta’s government to publicly fund $5 million out of the $13 million needed for an arts and culture sector plan, for building a dedicated film studio in Calgary.

This sector is now looking for a public-private funding model for the rest of the money needed to build an adequate facility.

“We don’t anticipate that $5 million will be sufficient to build a film studio,” says Shannon Marchand, assistant deputy minister at Alberta Culture.

A comprehensive film studio would have sound stages, filming space and storage facilities, all for the filmmakers to use.

“The call for a film studio in Calgary has been underway for some time,” Marchand says. “We started to identify the need for a film studio in Calgary, and the urgency around that has intensified. There is a lot of film and television production that happens.”

Despite the limited studio space, the film industry is expanding in Calgary, but one of the few spaces will not be available much longer.

“A lot of (the production happening in Calgary) is accommodated in old warehouses that have been converted in the former Currie Barracks land, and the whole process of the development of that land is moving forward, so those spaces are going to be lost fairly soon,” Marchand says.StudioSet space on Canadian Broadcast Corporation TV series of Heartland, one of Alberta’s biggest T.V. exports.

Photo by Tyler Klinkhammer

Eric Durnford has worked on many large productions filmed in the Calgary area, including Christopher Nolan’s current project, Interstellar, as well as television shows, Hell on Wheels and Heartland.

Durnford says the current space bottlenecks productions because “everyone wants to get into these small spaces and obviously they can’t all be in there at the same time.”

Matt Watterworth is the founder and president of Full Swing Productions, a Calgary based production company.

Watterworth says the current lack of studio space not only impedes productions, it also denies opportunity to individuals trying to find work in the industry.

“There are some really talented people (in Calgary), and they don’t always stick around,” Watterworth says.

“Either they go to a different town, or they change industries.

Watterworth says he thinks a comprehensive studio is the first step to expanding the film industry in Calgary.

The film studio proposed for Calgary is still in the beginning stages, but the process is in motion. Marchand was unable to comment on the current status of the project, or it’s potential location.

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