Blog by Chloe Cartwright, BSW, RSW, ABR

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Movies & Films Made Here! Fran's Two Cents

Movies & Films made in the Calgary & Surrounding Areas? Believe it or not Alberta has a fair few connections to the silver-screen, featuring in some major award winning Hollywood movies and for this London City transplant it is great knowing there is so much going on here.  I thought I was going to be isolated but actually I am much busier here than I was back in London.  I will write more on this topic in another post but for now I will focus on television and movies made in this area.  In fact in researching this piece I decided to look for some bit parts and work as an 'extra'.  Who knows my future blogs could be about meeting Brad or, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed here, Matt Damon!!!!!

There’s no getting away from the fact that the majestic mountains of the Rockies are an awe-inspiring backdrop in any film, especially where cowboys are involved!  But the most famous flick to be shot in the area has got to be the controversial “Brokeback Mountain”.  The stunning views, which represented Wyoming in the USA, were actually Mount Lougheed, just south of Canmore, and Moose Mountain, in Kananaskis.  Other scenes from the blockbuster movie were shot at Elbow Falls and Canyon Creek both close to Calgary.

Brad Pitt has also witnessed the breathtaking landscape whilst shooting “Legends of the Fall” in Ghost River, Morley and Calgary.  He couldn’t keep away and returned some 10 years later to star in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” which was filmed in Canmore and Calgary.  Another couple of westerns to add to the list, “The Unforgiven”, which drew filmmakers, along with Clint Eastwood, to Calgary and Drumheller and “Little Big Man” starring Dustin Hoffman filmed in Morley and Calgary.

But CowTown is not just ‘cowboy territory’.  Oh no.  Surely every film lover has enjoyed the film about the first Jamaican Bobsled Team trying to make it at the 1988 Olympics.  Well it was a true story from the 1988 Olympics held in Calgary, no less, so where better to film it than the City itself?  Those Olympics produced some other unlikely sporting heroes and guess what?  Film producers are back again with their clapperboards to make a motion picture about England’s first ski jumper “Eddie the Eagle” due to be released sometime in 2011.

Now strangely, “Doctor Zhivago” was a film about Russians which was set in Russia - or was it?  Some scenes were actually captured in Morley – Canada that is.  Another big blockbuster, “Inception”, released just last year, starring the gorgeous Leonardo Di Caprio had some scenes shot in Kananaskis or K Country as it is locally known. And we can all recall the immortal words “Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?” but in Calgary we all knew it was just Superman flying back to downtown Metropolis or as we residents call it, Calgary (if you look hard you can see the c-train and the Calgary Tower!).

There’s just a couple more that I can’t fail to mention although there are a few hundred, yes a few hundred, films that have been made in Alberta.  The “Son of Lassie” was shot in Banff National Park at Lake Minnewanka and Runaway Vacation (RV) starring Robin Williams boasts a list as long as your arm of Alberta locations.  For a spectacular view of local scenery you might want to rent 'The Edge' starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.  The movie crew were on location for over a month in the Canadian Rockies near Canmore and whilst filming Anthony Hopkins injured his back and had to be hospitalized for 3 days.  For a full and thorough list of all films and TV shows shot in Alberta take a look at www.imdb.com.

Okay, so who are the major Hollywood players from Alberta?  Well, the most famous has to be Michael J Fox, born in Edmonton Alberta, although he now resides in Vancouver.  Another hit movie star to call Calgary home for a while was the late Leslie Nielsen.  Although he was born in Saskatchewan, his first media job was as a disc jockey in the City (so I guess you could say that we helped make him famous!).  Then there is Eric McCormack.  Who the heck is he I hear you cry?  Well, if I said he was Will from Will and Grace, I think you’d get the picture.  Now we can’t lay claim to him exactly but apparently he did attend the Banff Centre for the Arts AND make some early TV shows in Bragg Creek.

Okay so maybe we are struggling with famous movie actors but we can boast that, the Banff Centre up in the Rockies, also hosts the Banff World Television Awards annually.  Last year, notable speakers included Ricky Gervais, William Shatner, Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance – UK and Canada; Nasty Nigel on Popstars, etc.etc.) and Jason Priestly (Beverly Hills 90210).  Previous recipients of an award include: Eastenders, Cold Feet, Extras, John Cleese, Dame Edna, Ricky Gervais and Sir David Attenborough, to name but a few.  Take a look at www.banff2010.com for more information on this star-studded event that you probably didn’t even know existed!

So to sum up, Alberta is in touch with the “reel’ world!  I know I didn’t mention “MacGyver” or “Im Tal der wilden Rosen” and I’m sorry to any Richard Dean Andersen fans or any Germans reading this!  I’m sure those TV shows were great as well but there were just too many shows to ‘reel’ off.  (Please stop me before the puns get any worse!)   Travel Alberta, the tourism site for the province, suggest several driving tours that movie buffs can take.  Take a look at www.travelalberta.com.  The tours are called ‘Reel Adventures’ under the title Things to Do-Scenic Road Trips.

 In Dorothy Gale’s words “There’s no place like home” and I believe she meant Alberta!  Well, I am home for good. 

                                                                                                            London Girl Transplant - Fran.

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