With the recent NDP budget cutting $3 million from the Alberta Media Fund, Edmonton filmmaker Shaun Donnelly explains that Alberta is still thriving and will continue to thrive because of the resources and people within the Alberta industry. Donnelly’s email was in response to Calgary Journal reporter, Thomas Bogda’s story, Alberta NDP re-casts funding for film industry, cuts $3 million from media fund

I have read several articles recently claiming that Alberta lacks tools filmmakers need to produce films here. I could not disagree more. As the President of Mind Engine Entertainment, Edmonton’s largest film and television production company, I am always amazed by the talented actors and crews in this province. I am in Los Angeles this week meeting with a major Hollywood studio who wants to bring a very unique western/horror movie to Alberta.

Even with a reduction to the Alberta Media Fund there is plenty of opportunity for commercially viable productions. Too many Alberta producers don’t bother to think about what the market is actually looking for. They give no thought to how they’ll sell what they produce. As a result you see a lot of short films. That’s not where the market is.

This year alone we have three feature films and two reality series scheduled to shoot here in Alberta. Tomorrow we begin production of a dark comedy called “The Zombie Apocalypse in Apartment 14F” starring Griffin Cork, Ben Francis and Wesley Sellick who is in Edmonton while the NBC series he works on, “This Is Us”, is on break.

In June we are producing a drama called John 316 that touches on issues of mental health. In November we begin production of “Gone By Dawn 2: Dead By Dusk” which, like the original, will be shot entirely in Edmonton. These movies feature a mixed cast of actors from Alberta and Hollywood and an almost exclusively Alberta crew.

“Breaking Spirits” which we shot last year in Edmonton with funding from China will be released this year. It stars Ludan Cui (China) and Skylar Radzion (Edmonton).

Our upcoming television series “Life of the Party” is filmed between Edmonton and San Diego and features some of the biggest names in hip hop including Kanye West, Tyga, Keri Hilson, Lil’ Boosie and D.R.A.M. just to name a few.

We also produce “Lingerie Fighting Championships” which features several cast and crew from Alberta who travel all over the world filming the league’s live events and reality series.

We recently acquired the rights to the novel “The Crescent” by Cynthia Vespia which we will be shooting as “Gladiatrix: Crescent Moon”. It is a female gladiator movie that will be shot in Alberta with an expected budget of $2 million.

None of this would have been possible if Alberta didn’t have the people, equipment, locations and talent to rival other film centers.

Correction: An earlier version of the author’s letter to the editor incorrectly attributed  Ben Bishop as a lead in the film, The Zombie Apocalypse in Apartment 14F. The lead is Ben Francis, not Bishop. We regret the error.

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