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Aggressive approach lures film crews to Alberta

last of us mural
Crews filming the new HBO series ‘The Last of Us’ transformed downtown Fort Macleod for scenes shot in July.

An aggressive tax credit combined with beautiful landscapes and a skilled workforce make Alberta an attractive destination for film and TV crews.

Since the enhanced tax credit was launched at the beginning of 2020, 50 productions totalling $965-million have created 9,000 new jobs in Alberta.

That includes Ghostbusters: Afterlife and The Last of Us filmed in part in Fort Macleod.

“From breathtaking landscapes to a skilled and growing workforce, Alberta has much to offer the global production community,” said Jay Roewe, senior vice-president of production and incentives for HBO.

HBO is filming the TV series The Last of Us in Alberta and is projected to spend close to $200-million.

Crews filmed scenes from The Last of Us in Fort Macleod last month over a period of two weeks, transforming the historic downtown core into a U.S. city.

“The province’s enhanced film and television production incentive has also made it an especially attractive destination for HBO,” Roewe added. “We look forward to filming The Last of Us here, and to working with talented Alberta crews.”

Roewe took part in a news conference last week at Rocky Mountain Studio in Calgary.

Premier Jason Kenney said the government’s decision in March to remove the $10-million cap on the film and TV tax credit tipped the balance in Alberta’s favour.

Kenney said The Last of Us is the best example of how the enhanced film and TV tax credit got the attention of the international industry.

The Last of Us is the single largest television series production in Canadian history.

“Alberta offers a landscape on which great and beautiful stories can be told,” Kenney said.

Kenney said that landscape, combined with world-class cities and charming towns weren’t enough in the competitive film and TV industry.

“Now productions of every size and scale can qualify, and that has helped to land some major projects that are game changers for film and television in this province,” Kenney said.

“We wanted to send a message to the HBOs, the Disneys, Universals and MGMs of the world that Alberta is open for business and keen to land their productions.”

Since the tax credit was enhanced, the new series Billy the Kid (MGM). the latest installment in the Predator franchise, the new series Guilty Party (CBS)  and Joe Pickett (Paramount), as well as a reboot of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock started filming in Alberta.

“These large scale productions from some of the entertainment industry’s most prestigious studios have been a huge boost to Alberta’s economic recovery,” Kenney said.

The biggest of them all, though, Kenney said, is The Last of Us, which is being compared to Game of Thrones in terms of scale, budget and ambition.

“Without the steps we have taken in the recovery plan, they would not have been able to bring this epic, epic production to Alberta,” Kenney added.

The premier said a billion dollar industry is springing up around Alberta as the film crews spend money and create jobs in the province.

“They’re driving economic diversification and growth, at a time when we desperately need it,” Kenney said.

A highly talented work force is emerging in Alberta to provide services to film crews in Alberta.

The budget for the Film and Television Tax Credit in 2021-22 is $50 million.