New film studio means more jobs
by Kaila Sept
A new opportunity for Alberta’s film industry has been announced by Alberta’s Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, Lindsay Blackett: Calgary will be getting its own permanent film studio. This is good news for theatre students who are looking to find jobs in film after graduation.
People working in the film industry in Calgary have been struggling to find work recently, particularly with the economy the way it is. Some actors don’t have much choice but to work several part-time jobs because productions aren’t filming in Alberta as often. As it stands, Calgary has no studio space available. Mount Royal University theatre graduates like Briana Lowe are grateful that the province is hearing their call for help.
“It’s exciting, we’ve all been writing letters about it, writing to the government, trying to get it to happen,” said Lowe, who currently works for Jubilations, Pegasus Theatre, and Stage West. “This is about getting studio space to make your own independent films. Those opportunities weren’t available in the past, but I think just providing this opportunity would not only provide more jobs in the industry but also I think it’s going to boom and I think Alberta will benefit from this facility.”
The studio, which has an estimated cost of $26 million dollars, will offer many jobs to not only actors, but also other creative minds in this industry.
Lowe said she thinks having a film studio will offer graduates and long-time professionals in Calgary the chance to perform and have the opportunity for more audition practice.
“Hopefully there will be more auditions and parts available for the actors to get seen and keep practicing,” Lowe said. “It would be great to have more opportunities and even to do independent films; there will be more opportunity for that.”
Tina Alford, a branch representative from ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) Alberta, said that the company is hopeful this studio will be a positive change to the film industry.
“Every project that comes in employs Albertans,” Alford said. “So you have performers, technical staff, not to mention all the spin-off industries. This studio will help keep hotels full and restaurants are busier and it’ll have a significant impact.”
Alford said the plan is to have two stages — one that is 30-thousand square feet and another that is 45-thousand square feet, as well as green rooms and office space.
“It’s a valuable piece of the puzzle that Calgary has been missing,” Alford said.
“People come to Alberta for our crew, our cast, our locations, you know, Legends of the Fall, Unforgiven, beautiful locations here, but we’ve never had a permanent place for people to set up. I think it’s going to help lure productions from the US, and even from Toronto.”
Alford said that ACTRA Alberta hopes to have the studio built within the next year. Whether or not this happens will depend on ongoing negotiations between Alberta government, Calgary Economic Development and WinSport, as the studio is going to be built right by Canada Olympic Park.
Robyn Ayles, the technical program coordinator of the department of theatre, speech and music performance at Mount Royal University, said that a studio has been needed for the last 20 years in Calgary, and it will be a big help to theatre graduates.
“More films mean more work. More series means more steady work,” Ayles said. “Our technicians in particular tend to move over into the film industry, as carpenters, set decorators, props people, or costumers. But more filming always means more work for actors as well.”