June 8, 2014
Calgary’s long-planned film studio now has a home in the city’s southeast industrial area. At the Banff World Media Festival Monday afternoon, Luke Azevedo, Commissioner for Film, Television and Creative Industries of Calgary Economic Development, announced the location of the $22.8-million facility. It will be built on 8.5 acres of land at 5750 76 Avenue S.E. It is scheduled to open in fall of 2015.
Calgary Economic Development secured the land at the cost of $4.7-million from the City of Calgary. Easy access to the core and the airport was essential, Azevedo said, as was a location that was not under a flight path, railway line or other noisy neighbours.
“We did an entire process and evaluated 18 different locations within the city,” said Azevedo after the announcement. “From that we had certain requirements that had to be met. This particular piece met all the requirements.”
The facility, now called the Calgary Film Centre, will include 50,000 square feet of sound stages, 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and 15,000 square feet of office space.
Lawson Projects and Kasian Architecture, both Calgary firms, were named project manager and prime consultant, respectively.
Calgary was the last major centre in Canada that did not have such as facility for its film industry, said Paul Bronfman, CEO of William F. White International, which will be the anchor tenant of the facility.
“It’s amazing that we are actually here today and it’s real,” said Bronfman. “Despite the fact that the city of Calgary has not had a studio, it’s been successful. Every other regional market in Canada — Halifax, Winnipeg and Regina — has all had the advantage of those facilities. Calgary is really the last market to havea film studio. It’s long overdue.”
The announcement was made at the Rockie Awards Luncheon at the Fairmont Banff Springs, where the 35th Annual Banff World Media Festival has attracted film and television industry delegates from around the world.
The studio will be funded using $5-million by the province, $10-million from the City of Calgary, $6.8-million from Calgary Economic Development and $1-million from William F. White.
In February, Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk announced that Calgary Economic Development’s proposal for the film hub beat out six others to win the $5-million in provincial funding.
Calgary Economic Development has spent four years on the project, establishing a non-profit corporation to study and support the idea.
But the need for studio space has been an issue in the city for decades, which some insiders saying the lack of space has cost Calgary millions in major film and TV work over the years.
“You don’t get good news like this very often,” says Damian Petti, chair of the Association of Alberta Motion Picture and Television Unions. “It’s a longtime coming. Forty or 50 years at least.”