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Fort Macleod to lobby for more film industry investment

matthew mcconnaughey
Director Christopher Nolan talks to star Matthew McConaughey during a break in the filming of ‘Interstellar’ in Fort Macleod in August 2013.

Fort Macleod will join a growing chorus for greater investment by the province in the film industry to help diversifying the economy.

Council voted last week to draft a letter to Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid and other elected officials.

“I think more than ever we need to be doing this and lobbying our provincial politicians hard for diversification,” Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said.

Council made the decision June 8 after reviewing a letter from Didsbury Mayor Rhonda Hunter.

Hunter told council that following recent funding announcements from the province, people in the film industry are still concerned Alberta is losing its competitive advantage over the rest of the country.

Hunter referred to a recent meeting with Brock Skretting, head of advocacy for Keep Alberta Rolling, and Dave Reynolds, a location scout and manager with the Director’s Guild of Canada.

ted danson
Ted Danson was in Fort Macleod in March 2015 for the filming of the TV series ‘Fargo.’

“The outcome of this meeting, with unanimous support, was to put together a letter that municipalities could support and endorse that would be forwarded to our MLAs and the provincial ministry of economic development, trade and tourism.

The letter calls for the province to consider increased funding for the Films and Tax Credit Program.

“Alberta could be in the forefront of film productions if attractive and effective initiatives and incentives were in place for Alberta to continue to grow the industry which could result in billions of dollars of investment in our province,” Hunter wrote in her letter to council.

Hunter noted the film industry in Alberta employs 3,357 people and investment extends beyond to catering companies, taxi services, hotels, airlines, commercial real estate, building support stores, gas stations, restaurants and other businesses.

The filming of Ghostbusters: Afterlife resulted in booking of 14,627 rooms valued at just over $2-million in Calgary, Fort Macleod and Drumheller.

The film crew spent $395,560 on catering, local grocers, restaurants and distributors, $800,000 on rental vehicles and $500,000 for lumber.

kevin costner
Kevin Costner was in Fort Macleod to film ‘Let Him Go’ in the spring of 2019.

The filming of Let Him Go starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane generated $217,000 for the Fort Macleod economy

Hunter cited other examples of the economic benefit of filming in Alberta.

Coun. Kristi Edwards was pleased to see Fort Macleod listed as a key location for the film industry.

Edwards was in favour of following the recommendation to write provincial officials.

“I think it really does matter to us, and it matters to our province to have the filming industry continue here,” Edwards said. “I think it’s a good idea to do what they’re asking. It can’t hurt.”

Mayor Brent Feyter noted the Alberta government gets many requests for tax breaks and other measures, from many sources.

“I feel for the province in many ways,” Feyter said. “They have a limit on how much they can allow and free up, just as much as we do. I support the letter but I think overall we’re still at the mercy of the province.”

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