Calgary leading the way in international film
The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) ended on Sunday, Oct. 1 with a record-breaking estimated attendance of 40,000 people. Though the CIFF has come to an end, it isn’t the end to the filming being done in Calgary.
“[Calgary has evolved] more and more, lots of international films come to Calgary because of the prairies and the mountains,” said SAIT Film and Video Production alumni, Thomas Robert Lee whose film Empyrean premiered at the CIFF back in 2015.
Lee was excited to see the new ideas for movies coming from filmmakers in the 2017 festival, compared to what it was like for him in 2015.
“It was really exciting for me, so many people I’ve went to school with and grew up with came out for the screening,” he said.
Lee says that the film industry is very welcoming, especially when starting a film career at SAIT where career interactions begin the large process of networking.
“The Calgary film community is small, there are lots of familiar faces so it brings us all together.”
Lee said because of Calgary’s desirability as a filming location, the constant need of extras and background actors is growing. He recommends the service Actra Alberta for those seeking gigs as extras.
Anyone that has done some acting work before can apply for Actra insurance. Whether it’s for pursuit-of-passion, hobby or work, Actra gives coverage to secure extra actors in the industry.
Actra Alberta is insurance built for actors and directors who can get contracted work that guarantees payment, gives health benefits and helps to plan for retirement. Contracts put money away for actors later in life to claim a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
When signing up for Actra’s apprenticeship membership, members get advertised to star in international productions. To become a member of Actra, members pay a $75 membership fee and $75 yearly for professional advertisements in the union.
Other resources to look for work are accessible through the Cast Caller service, which you can sign up for free. Filming locations vary throughout Canada and through The Calgary Film Centre.
According to the Calgary Film Centre’s website, Alberta has garnered more Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy wins than any province in Canada in the last decade.
The Calgary Film Centre is a filming studio where many productions get made. The centre has produced scenes for movies and TV shows that include Inception, Hell on Wheels, Fargo and Wyonna Earp.
According to Hell on Wheels actor Anson Mount on the centre’s website, “Alberta, simply put, is a film and television-maker’s dream.”
Lee said that if he could apply to the program again, he would do it differently. He said there is a lot of film opportunity in Calgary and not many people know about it.
“[I would] make more short films, and reach out to the film community outside of Calgary,” said Lee.
His film Empyrean, was just released on iTunes at the end of September along with the soundtrack for the film created by the music-group Jung People.