The red carpet rolled out for the grand opening of the Calgary Film Centre proved to be an “open-for-business” sign as productions were lining up to book the new sound stages even as the ribbon-cutting ceremony was still underway.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was among the hundreds of guests attending the gala and he got to break the news that the “western-noir” TV series Tin Star by the U.K. production company Kudos had just booked studio space from June through December.
“It was great to be able to cap off our gala by announcing our first major project,” said Erin O’Connor, General Manager of the Calgary Film Centre. “It’s also really good to be getting to work so quickly because we have business targets to meet.”
Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda echoed Mayor Nenshi’s enthusiasm for the film centre and looked forward to seeing productions from the studios.
“Now it’s a matter of filling the facilities, growing this industry,” said Luke Azevedo, Calgary’s Commissioner of Film, Television & Creative Industries.
In the days after the official opening, there were numerous inquires from companies about renting the three purpose-built soundstages housed in a $28.2-million facility in southeast Calgary that will allow filming year-round in southern Alberta.
“The world is going to come to Calgary and make movies,” said Paul Bronfman, Chairman and CEO of William F. White International Inc., the anchor tenant at the film centre and Canada’s oldest and largest provider of professional motion picture, television, digital media and theatrical production equipment.
In early May, Mayor Nenshi joined a delegation from Calgary Economic Development that travelled to Hollywood to pitch top studio executives on the facilities and promote Calgary as a “film friendly” city.
Film, TV and creative industries generated approximately $175 million in southern Alberta in 2015 and industry analysis indicates the Calgary Film Centre could be a catalyst to increase spending to $500 million in five to seven years.
The quality of the local talent and crews has been evident in award-winning movies like The Revenant, Brokeback Mountain and Interstellar, along with critically acclaimed TV series such as Fargo and Heartland but the purpose-built soundstages make Calgary a destination location for the industry.
The film centre is intended to be a catalyst for innovation and excellence in creative industries and digital media in Calgary and contribute to economic diversification. In partnership with local post-secondary institutions, unions, guilds and industry associations, the film centre will support the growth and mentorship of the crew base in Calgary and area.
"Culture is one of the pillars we need to ensure that this city and this province develops in a way that's meaningful and continues to grow," Azevedo said.
Top (L-R): Erin O'Connor, General Manager of Calgary Film Centre, Brett Ironside, Chairman of Calgary Film Centre Board of Directors, Paul Bronfman, Chairman & CEO of William F. White, Luke Azevedo, Calgary Commissioner of Film, TV & Creative Industries, Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Mary Moran, President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development.
Middle: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Franca Gualtieri, Executive Assistant and Office Manager,Office of the Mayor, walk the red carpet.
Bottom: Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, addresses the official opening gala.