Mayor leads Calgary delegation to L.A. to lure more films north

·3 min read
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek will be leading a delegation to Los Angeles in an attempt to bolster this city's stakes in the film production industry. (Ishita Singla/CBC - image credit)
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek will be leading a delegation to Los Angeles in an attempt to bolster this city's stakes in the film production industry. (Ishita Singla/CBC - image credit)

After being the site for several recent high-profile film and TV productions, Calgary's message to Tinseltown is:  we want more.

A Calgary delegation, led by Mayor Jyoti Gondek, is in Los Angeles this week.

Its members will be rubbing elbows and bending the ears of industry executives with the message that Calgary has what they want.

The area's screen time has been increasing in recent years with productions like The Last of Us, Prey, The Revenant and Ghostbusters: Afterlife being shot in Calgary and southern Alberta.

But Gondek said it's still important to go to a major industry hub like Hollywood to showcase what Calgary has to offer.

David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

She pointed to the feedback from the cast and crew of The Last of Us.

"They didn't know what to expect and when they came to Calgary and they realized that it is a beautiful place and it has so much to offer, there's a lot of folks that have relocated to live here permanently," said Gondek.

"I think it's the idea of getting people out to Calgary, out to Alberta, to experience it, to really sell the fact that we're an amazing place to do business and make a life."

Diversity a calling card

With the return of greater financial incentives for film makers and more production facilities, Calgary is attracting more shows and movies. Gondek said that creates jobs and draws investment.

As well, she said Calgary's diversity is just what Hollywood is looking for right now.

"We've recently seen the production of Prey and it was very important that it was Indigenous led and they were able to do that here in Alberta. So I would like to encourage people to look at our province as an incredibly diverse place," said Gondek.

The mayor said when you practice equity, diversity and inclusion as Calgary can, it makes people feel like they are seen and heard.

Axel Tardieu/CBC
Axel Tardieu/CBC

The city's film commissioner, Luke Azevedo, said it's a bonus to have the mayor lead this delegation.

Members of the city's film community will be chatting up more than 70 studio officials, streamers and independent film makers at a reception that will be hosted by Canada's consul general in L.A.

Better prepared

Azevedo said Calgary is more prepared today for what Hollywood wants and expects than it has been in the past.

Traditionally, producers and industry players asked about asked about competitive financial incentives, whether local crews are up to Hollywood standards and about local film infrastructure.

Azevedo said Calgary is financially competitive on a global scale, its crews have proven their skills and Calgary has 480,000 square feet of new film production space ready to roll.

Now, he said they're getting questions about equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility — and Calgary is ready.

"We are now going in to these meetings, identifying that we have plans long term. This is a journey that we're on with the industry and we want to ensure that Alberta is a leader in some of these aspects, not a follower."

With the roster of high-quality productions that have been done in Calgary and southern Alberta recently, Azevedo said Calgary is ready to do even more.

"We're going into a scenario where we're able to attract the productions here. We're able to complete them and not just in a good form. In a world-class form. We have the crews, we have the infrastructure and the incentives to allow us to do this."

Calgary is now Canada's fourth city for film production behind Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

The mayor and local film officials say they're optimistic Calgary can move up the rankings, given the wide range of productions this city can accommodate and the variety of filming locations it can offer.