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New Calgary studio, sound stage expected to boost Alberta film production

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CALGARY - Alberta's burgeoning film industry is about to get another boost with a new studio and permanent sound stage slated for Calgary.

The $22.8-million studio is scheduled to be running by the summer of 2015, but no location has been announced.

With several series being filmed in the Calgary area now, including "Heartland" and "Fargo" based on the 1996 Coen brothers Oscar-nominated movie, the demand for a new facility has never been greater, says Bruce Graham, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development.

"The creative industries sector in this city and the province has really reached a critical tipping point with terrific growth opportunities and a driving need for these purpose-built facilities," Graham said.

The studio will feature two sound stages — one 1,800 square metres and the other 2,700 square metres — with the ability to subdivide the larger space. It will also include warehouse space and space for a workshop.

Alberta's film, television and digital media industry was responsible for more than $400 million in economic activity over the last five years and 80 per cent of all production dollars are spent in the southern part of the province.

"'Fargo' is being filmed as we speak and we know every time you get series being filmed that's the magic," said Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk.

"We have four series happening right now in Alberta. I also know there's many more on the table so we know the timing is absolutely critical right now to get this done."

The Alberta government chipped in $5 million toward the development of the film studio.

Industry equipment maker William F. White International will be the anchor tenant and will act as the sound stage operator.

"I think this is the most underused jurisdiction in Canada," said Paul Roscorla, executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

"You can't do a TV series without a studio. 'Heartland' has had to move their show three or four times and every time they move, it costs them at least $250,000," he said.

"You can't expect an American producer, any producer, to keep incurring that cost, so we need a home for people like 'Heartland.'"

Some to the notable films shot in Alberta include "Unforgiven," "Legends of the Fall," "Brokeback Mountain," "Inception" and "The Bourne Legacy."

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