Award-winning Calgary-based director, Michael Peterson, is recognized globally in filmmaking. But, despite offers from L.A., or Vancouver, he has no plans to leave Alberta.

Peterson lives an already well-accomplished career as an artist in his industry recognized globally by his films of Knuckleball and Lloyd the Conqueror.

“You know, the people in my network in L.A., and Montreal, and London… They talk to me about the films I make; they know about the stuff I’m doing,” exclaims Peterson, who says that his connections around the world see the calibre in his films.

“He had good success with this. Obviously, you know, you gotta be making quality stuff,” Peterson’s network states of his career as a filmmaker.

Making a name outside Alberta

Peterson often receives offers elsewhere from productions seeking his talents.

“I get job offers in L.A., and Toronto and Vancouver,” he says.

But, despite this, Peterson still believes that his films are best done within the backyard of his upbringing: Alberta.

“Would it be easier somewhere else? Maybe. But, you know, for the foreseeable future this is where I’m going to be, and I’m gonna make the best of it,” Peterson continues.

Alberta-born First Nation’s director and actor, Julian Black Antelope, recognizes the idea to make the best of one’s home.

“I think we’re all just a bit crazy enough to do it regardless of conditions or pay, just because we love what we do,” Antelope expresses. “To film in Alberta, you have to be extra crazy, because as everyone here knows the weather and conditions can change in a heartbeat.”

Antelope and Peterson both truly value Alberta.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Peterson explains. “My family is here. I really like living here. [There is] a good community of filmmakers here.”

Vancouver-based director Kurtis David Harder comments on the strong sense of community within Alberta and Calgary-based filmmaking.

“It’s more tight knit communities in your life. I think there’s still a kind of magic draw in filmmaking in Calgary,” says Harder.

Antelope also remarks on the magic of film that makes him confident in Alberta, saying it’s, “The people, the talent, the resources and of course the stories.”

Meaning beyond location

But as Peterson continues to grow his career at home, and his films are produced in the heart of his home, it’s not what defines them.

“It’s been good to me in general, it’s just not a regional thing. This just happens to be where we live.”

Harder also acknowledges the idea that the region doesn’t matter when filming, but rather what creates the highest quality movie. “It’s nice to shoot here. I think there’s great people, great locations, but I’m not married to a single place,” says Harder.

Antelope, who has worked around the world on sets like Penny Dreadful, agrees with Harder.

He says, “My experience working around the world, from the Rum Wadi desert of Jordan to the lush green of Ireland. It has taught me that no matter where you’re filming, the people involved are as passionate to the craft and art as they are in your own background.”

Peterson understands that at the core of his productions, being successful is what ultimately matters, not the location.

“When I’m telling something, I’m not telling to, you know, people that grew up in Calgary at a certain time period, it’s really much broader than that.”

Embracing the human condition

The underlying theme that Peterson holds dear when presenting his stories and productions for borderless film is: “I believe in a humanism sort of storytelling and characters.”

Peterson continues to move forward in his filmmaking in Alberta, as he tackles a new genre in his productions with a brand-new untitled web series.

“It’s about these two hip-hop artists, the one member of them owns a Chinese restaurant… They’re forced to leave Toronto to help the family restaurant [but] they’re still going after their hip hop dreams while they work in the kitchen of this small town,” Peterson says.

The unique experiences Peterson has experienced has allowed him to truly explore his film projects in Alberta, as the idea of borderless film enables this.

Editor: Holly Maller |

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