The inaugural Global Production Awards presented at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, May 23rd honoured Calgary, Alberta as the recipient of the Location of The Year award and shortlisted the city among global entries as City of Film.
Where the Oscars recognize those in front and behind the camera, the Global Production Awards shine the spotlight on the best production sets, locations, film commissions and studios around the world. The awards celebrate the great initiatives, projects and work that are setting the highest standards in sustainability and diversity, and ensuring local economies benefit from the productions being hosted in their cities.
"Calgarians have come to know that our city is one of the top up-and-coming cities in the film and television sector. With this award and nomination, now the whole world knows it too,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek. "Film-friendly municipal policies, along with economic development initiatives, and an incredible talent pool will continue to cement Calgary as the location of choice for productions.”
Calgary’s landscape has a long history of attracting creative directors and producers drawn to shoot in unique locations like the collection of standing sets that won the international award. The three Alberta-based permanent sets CL Ranch near Aldersyde, Albertina Farms near Okotoks and John Scott Ranch near Longview have hosted productions like The Revenant, Wynonna Earp, Fargo, Night at the Museum 3, in addition to The Last of Us and Heartland.
Protecting the natural landscape of their properties while providing a high level of production support in a stunning natural setting is a key priority and reason why this award belongs to those who oversee the standing sets.
“Those folks that are managing that land and ensuring that it stays as good or better than it was found and continue to do the work that they do to enable us to be there on those sets is incredible and we’re forever grateful to them,” Azevedo said. “This award is going towards them and the amount of work that they’ve done for us.”
The nomination for City of Film is also a major honour for Calgary. While this award went to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, making the shortlist demonstrates Calgary’s commitment to being a no-surprise jurisdiction as City management, the Calgary Film Commission and all industry partners strive to deliver exceptional service and quality on each project’s creative, financial and project management requirements.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing productions come here because of our modern studios, skilled talent pool, post-production support, focus on sustainability and Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) across Calgary’s creative economy,” said Luke Azevedo, Calgary Film Commissioner and VP, Creative Industries and Operations, Calgary Economic Development. “This recognition is testament to Calgary being a leading destination for global, large-scale productions because we work together to create the right environment for their success.”
With productions including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock and HBO’s The Last of Us filmed in Calgary capturing global attention, it’s no surprise Calgary first made Moviemaker’s 2021 ranking in tenth spot as Best Cities to Live and Work as a Moviemaker and in 2022 rose two spots placing eighth among the Top 25 cities in North America in 2023.
In fact, having filmed in the third most livable city in the world, actors including Bella Ramsay, Pedro Pascal, Andrew Garfield and Jon Hamm have gone on the record giving kudos to the community’s facilities and culinary scene.
Calgary’s Mayor, City Council & Civic Administration have committed to make Calgary a film-friendly location and are investing in its growth and sustainability. The unprecedented ability for The Last of Us to successfully shut down a major downtown flyover and the new airport tunnel with a runway overtop was a direct consequence of the joint commitment.
Behind the forces attracting the productions in the first place, Hollywood productions and indie film studios alike select film locations that steward the environment and champion opportunities for local talent.
To respond to this priority, the Calgary Film Commission and provincial partners introduced its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy for film and TV productions. The strategy helps productions access streamlined logistics and operations support, source talent trained at local post-secondary institutions and act responsibly as environmental stewards with the guidance of the Alberta Sustainable Production Guide.
While Calgary’s screen industry tells the stories of the world, international film and TV productions are turning to Calgary for their next chapter.