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Calgary’s number 10 for filmmakers — how did that happen?

By Roog Kubur, February 27 2022—

Calgary managed to snag the number ten spot for the best places to live in North America for filmmakers out of 25 cities. To Calgarians, that may come as a shock as we tend to reduce our city down to cowboys and its colourful tower. Can you blame us? When you’ve lived here for a while, you don’t have the same mystique in your eye that visitors may have.

Those more acquainted with Calgary’s artistic sphere will know that the city and its surrounding area have always been a hotspot for filmmakers, including big names like Christopher Nolan and the Coen Brothers. Some of its most interesting trivia comes in the form of “did you know [insert major film] was filmed here?” This city has a lot to offer but what makes it worth the top ten?

First and foremost, Calgary is a comically large city. The third largest city by population and one of the fastest-growing metropolises, it is huge and  will only keep growing. With this ever-expanding landmass comes a diverse range of landscapes that can be taken advantage of, especially for those with an artistic vision. It’s able to adapt and transform into the necessary setting needed to capture the essence of the films.

The Revenant is a film that takes place in the snowy outskirts of civilization or what we know as Kananaskis Country. The Last of Us is set in a dystopian wasteland overtaken by a deadly virus or the illustrious Victoria Park. Cool Runnings is a heartfelt story of a group of athletes beating the odds and making it to the Olympics or everyone’s favourite skiing spot, Canada Olympic Park.

All of these movies have very different premises and storylines but each was able to find their home in Southern Alberta. Calgary is not only big enough for these different cities but adaptable enough for whatever story needs to be told. 

Admittedly, Kananaskis Country isn’t exactly Calgary but herein lies another quality that makes it such a great spot for filmmaking.The brilliant thing about Calgary’s location is that it is enclosed by impressive topography that is always an arm’s length away.

Popular filming spots for small towns, like Nanton, or impressive mountainsides are both just under an hour away, allowing filmmakers to take a short day trip to get the necessary shots. As Calgarians, it’s common knowledge that there are about a hundred different options if you’re looking to get away from the city but for visitors, this is a treasure trove of opportunity waiting to be explored.

When it comes to convenience, Calgary takes the cake for delicately balancing an urban centre fit for investigating crimes, housing superheroes or providing rugged terrains perfect for fighting bears or mining for gold.

Alas, here is what makes Calgary so appealing to creatives. Aside from the plentiful material for visual artistic mediums, there lies a hidden glamour shrouded by the illusion of it being merely a “comfortable” city.

While it’s not a boisterous hotspot like other Canadian cities on the list, Calgary continues to be a place that allows its artists to have free reign when they need it. From the numerous art installations across the city, to the live street performances that can be caught throughout the year, Calgary has a rich artistic sphere that is often overlooked.

The city is a goldmine of inspiration waiting to be unlocked and a lot of filmmakers can find this vision and bring it to life. Calgary’s a cool place to be, you just got to give it a chance. 

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