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Film training, education centre breaks ground in southeast Calgary

Calgary’s film and television industry will get another boost, with a new training facility that broke ceremonial ground Monday.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) 212, hosted the ground-breaking at their new 212 – 62 Avenue SE location that will train more workers for Calgary – and Alberta’s – growing film scene.

The estimated $6.5 million, fully union-funded building will offer state-of-the-art training and education opportunities and be a hub for skill development, the union said.

“The surge in production has led to a need to train new crew, but also ensure that our current members maintain their credentials to keep pace with new technology and help keep motion picture sets safe,” said Damian Petti, IATSE 212 president.

“We already have some of the best crews in the world. This new training centre will help us maintain that reputation.”

Brian Jean, Alberta Minister for Jobs, the Economy and Northern Development highlighted the provincial support that’s helped catapult the province’s film and television industry forward in the past two years.

“We’re interested in this industry because we believe it’s the best way to diversify our economy moving forward by working with industries coming to Alberta and bringing money and talent back from places that it was going before,” he said.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley, who was also at the event, praised the current government for the tax credits that have helped move the industry forward.

“I will say that we will continue the work to bring the biggest studios, the biggest productions, the biggest Hollywood stars here working with talented Albertans in production, makeup, set design, cinematography and so much more,” she said.

Film and television a big driver in Calgary’s economy

Artist’s conceptual drawing of the proposed new IATSE 212 film and TV training facility. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

According to Calgary Economic Development’s (CED) Report to the Community, delivered Tuesday, they’ve attracted, retained or expanded 38 local companies in the film, TV and digital media sector.

The spend in Calgary from film and TV is roughly $461 million, according to CED. Further, it created 5,455 jobs in the Calgary area. There were also 1,100 film permits issued in 2022.

The Calgary Film Centre also operated at close to 100 per cent capacity throughout 2022.

Doug Schweitzer, former MLA and Minister for Jobs, Economy and Innovation, was at the event Monday and said that when he was working to advance the province’s film and television industry, IATSE was very collaborative. It was one of the first initiatives he worked on in the economic portfolio.

“They (IATSE) gave us a roadmap for what needed to be done to try and bring more and more productions to the province of Alberta,” Schweitzer said.

“This is just continued momentum and hopefully this is just the beginning of even more and more success in the province of Alberta.”