Calgary govt plans to privatize Calgary Film Centre
by Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Last May, the City of Calgary started the process of selling the Calgary Film Centre Ltd (CFCL) to a private entity and plans to complete the sale by the end of the year.
This is five years after CFCL opened in southeast Calgary and had been operating under the city government and the Calgary Economic Development through an independent board of directors.
“The industry is flourishing and there is increased demand and competition for studio space, so the time is right to explore a sale. Calgary Economic Development and the city were never intended to run the Film Centre over the long term, and it will develop further when owned by a private-sector player” said Patricia McLeod, the Board Chair of CFCL.
The film centre has three purpose-built sound stages on an 8.35-acre site with warehouse and workshop facilities. The centre also houses the mainstay tenant William F. White International that provides production services and equipment in film, television, digital media and theatre.
“The film and TV sector is seeing exponential growth and the Calgary Film Centre played an important role in helping make that happen, so it was a good investment but it’s time to let the private sector to take it forward and grow the business,” said Jeff Davison, Councillor for Ward 6 and member of the CFCL Board.
Even with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the film and television sector was responsible for contributing $90 million and more than 2,000 new jobs to the city’s economy.
“The potential of film and television as a major contributor to creative industries in a diverse economy is starting to be realized. In addition to the quality of our talent, crews and outstanding venues and facilities, the right level of government support is serving as a critical catalyst to the significant growth,” said Luke Azevedo, Vice-President, Creative Industries, Calgary Economic Development and Alberta Film Commissioner
The centre is now back in full capacity since its reopening in June 2020. In fact, the centre is fully booked until the summer of 2022.
Calgary is slated for several confirmed productions this year. Although not confirmed to be produced in the film centre, this means a busy season for the city’s film and TV industry. HBO’s The Last of Us, which is expected to hire hundreds of local members, will be shot in the city between July 2021 and June 2022. Another TV series called Billy the Kid and the fifth installment of the Predator series also starts in June.
“In the last five years, film and TV has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy and created thousands of jobs. The industry is on a trajectory to be an even greater contributor to Calgary and Alberta’s economy.” Azevedo adds.