Vaux­hall na­tive looks at Alberta Film with a dif­fer­ent lens

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - CLASSIFIED­S - By Ryan Dahlman [email protected]­

Vaux­hall na­tive Brock Skret­ting has worked hard at es­tab­lish­ing him­self in the Alberta film in­dus­try. He has been an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor on tele­vi­sion shows Wy­onna Earp and Jann to a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant on CBC’s Heart­land to a trainee pro­duc­tion co­or­di­na­tor on the Acad­emy Award winning film The Revenant.

Now as the Head of Ad­vo­cacy for the non profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Keep Alberta Rolling, Skret­ting is work­ing hard to es­tab­lish Alberta on the North American and world stage for film pro­duc­tion stage.

He de­scribes it as “meant to be a last­ing ed­u­ca­tional re­source - con­tin­u­ally up­dated sto­ries that show peo­ple dif­fer­ent ca­reer paths they can take to get into the in­dus­try and tools for cre­ators within the prov­ince so they can cre­ate wealth by cre­at­ing con­tent and live happy healthy lives.”

He says that mem­bers of Alberta Film as well as oth­ers in the film and tele­vi­sion in­dus­try pro­duc­tion got to­gether as a “strength in num­bers” to help keep the film in­dus­try strong.

You may have seen the com­mer­cials on tele­vi­sion or on the In­ter­net.

Skret­ting ex­plains that Keep Alberta Rolling went from an idea into a move­ment into to an of­fi­cial non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. He says a lot of many film in­dus­try or­ga­ni­za­tions started meet­ing last Oc­to­ber and re­al­ized there was a dis­con­nect amongst the groups.

“There is stag­ger­ing global growth in the film mar­ket. Every­body knows that more con­tent is be­ing made than ever be­fore with peo­ple binge watch­ing shows on Net­flix and tech gi­ants Ama­zon, Ap­ple, Facebook and Hulu cre­at­ing stream­ing plat­forms for Cana­dian’s liv­ing rooms,” Skret­ting noted.

“In Alberta how­ever, few peo­ple know about just how suc­cess­ful and es­tab­lished the film in­dus­try is and the amount of pri­vate in­vest­ment and jobs it brings to cities and rural ar­eas. How do we spread that positive mes­sage? How do we get every­one in the in­dus­try to tell their story so that we can cre­ate more jobs and bring more money into the prov­ince?”

They de­cided to make this a grass roots, worker, Alberta based non-profit be­cause that’s who they are.

He says for ev­ery big name out there who “makes it” as an ac­tor there is “Jeff Mars­land the Gen­er­a­tor Operator who “makes it” not only as a worker but also as a hus­band, a father, or a friend.”

Skret­ting says there are 50 to 150 peo­ple on ev­ery film set who have jobs that touch ev­ery sec­tor and re­quire ev­ery skill not­ing each are equally valid - the at­ten­tion is fan­tas­tic and brings money with it - but it’s im­por­tant to respect Alberta and the Al­ber­tan worker.

“Th­ese are re­mark­able peo­ple and their sto­ries need to be told. Telling sto­ries of dif­fer­ent fea­tur­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions in the in­dus­try it also al­lows peo­ple to see dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tional paths that lead to em­ploy­ment so they can make a game plan and take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties when they come up,” says Skret­ting in de­scrib­ing the Keep Alberta Rolling cam­paign.

The Vaux­hall na­tive said he, Scott Lut­ley, a Gaf­fer (Head of Light­ing in Film), and Vince Varga (an Al­ber­tan Publi­cist) de­cided to pull to­gether th­ese Alberta film or­ga­ni­za­tions to discuss how we can pro­mote the ben­e­fits of film in­dus­try, train more peo­ple, and build in­fra­struc­ture to keep up with growth.

“Peo­ple are now ask­ing how their town can be like High River and at­tract the next “Heart­land” se­ries or how they can help pro­mote the in­dus­try so their sons and daugh­ters may one day have a job right here in Alberta. It’s out­stand­ing,” ex­plains Skret­ting. “How can we set up the small towns of Alberta to cap­i­tal­ize on this op­por­tu­nity by be­com­ing film friendly? Lots of great ideas and many vol­un­teer hours later and what we’re start­ing to see is a shift. For the first time in Alberta his­tory the film in­dus­try was iden­ti­fied as a pri­or­ity cul­tural and eco­nomic en­gine for all po­lit­i­cal par­ties. In Fe­bru­ary, the UCP and stake­hold­ers from the in­dus­try held a round ta­ble at­tended by 24 MLA candidates - an un­prece­dented level of en­gage­ment for Alberta.”

Skret­ting says that what peo­ple may not re­al­ize is that Al­ber­taalso has a very strong and grow­ing com­mer­cial, web-se­ries, and in­de­pen­dent film tal­ent pool that gar­ners in­ter­na­tional recognitio­n.

He be­lieves be­cause of the beauty of the lo­ca­tions and the strength of the crews there is a wide va­ri­ety shot in Alberta. There is award­win­ning movies like The Revenant, In­ter­stel­lar, The As­sas­si­na­tion of Jesse James all the way back to Un­for­given and a strong group of hugely pop­u­lar TV shows: Fargo, Tin Star, Heart­land,and Wynonna Earp.

It is more than just sta­tus to have th­ese pro­duc­tions shot in Alberta. It brings a lot of ex­po­sure and helps with down-the-road tourism, but there is def­i­nitely more di­rect ben­e­fits.

“It’s all about the econ­omy. Kevin Cost­ner brought with him mil­lions of dol­lars spread to the lo­cal economies of Fort Ma­cleod, High River, Leth­bridge, Drumheller, and Dids­bury,” ex­plains Skret­ting.

“So that pic­ture you might be able to get with the stars rep­re­sents money for small town busi­nesses and land own­ers. It means that ho­tels are full and pubs are packed. Take what ‘Al­pha’ did for Brooks, what Heart­land and Tin Star has done for High River or what the fea­ture films have done in Cochrane and Banff/Kanan­skis area - those be­come driv­ers for the lo­cal econ­omy. The com­mu­nity pride that comes from peo­ple around the world com­ing to see where Mag­gie’s Din­ner is filmed, where the Ranch house on the ‘In­ter­stel­lar’ or where the moun­tains in ‘The Revenant’ are lo­cated - it’s pal­pa­ble and it brings in ad­di­tional money to th­ese busi­nesses that re­ally need it right now.”

En­ter­tain­ment ex­ec­u­tives love Alberta for other rea­sons, one of which is landscape.

“Alberta has the things that you can’t build or buy - the mag­nif­i­cent moun­tains, the rolling hills, the end­less prairies. All of th­ese things make for great cin­e­matog­ra­phy be­cause we live in one of the most beau­ti­ful places on earth,” ex­plains Skret­ting. “Alberta used to be sort of type-cast as “western only” but now with shows like Fargo you’ve got a win­ter crime drama, Wynonna Earp is a su­per­hero sci-fi, in­ter­stel­lar was a sci-fi show, it’s re­ally opened up and pro­duc­ers now know any type of movie or tv show can be made here.

“I think the crews stand out here be­cause the Al­ber­tan work ethic stands a cut above other places in the world. With the beau­ti­ful and rugged ter­rain some­times comes dif­fi­cult lo­gis­tics - con­di­tions that Alberta crews are used to and thrive in.”

One as­pect the or­ga­ni­za­tion wants to work is the tax struc­ture. Alberta film or­ga­ni­za­tions feel. They are caught in “an out-dated grant sys­tem and a world of red tape left by pre­vi­ous government­s.“

Skret­ting adds the ma­jor­ity of film ju­ris­dic­tions in the world have a re­bate sys­tem that help boost lo­cal jobs, busi­nesses and rural towns, in­cen­tiviz­ing where a pro­duc­tion spends its money. Mod­ern­iz­ing, removing red tape, and mak­ing the shift to a sim­i­lar sys­tem would send a sig­nal to the world that Alberta is ‘Open for Show Busi­ness’.

To have an idea of all that Skret­ting has done re­cently when it comes to work on films, tele­vi­sion se­ries and spe­cials to see how much he has done mem­berView?m=31344

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