Fargo's Emmy spotlight reflects on Alberta's booming film industry

People involved in Calgary's film industry say Fargo's success at the Emmys has helped drive production in the area — even when it gets cold.

Made-in-Calgary TV show up for 18 Emmy awards

This photo released by FX Networks shows Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo in Fargo. The TV series has 18 nominations and one win for the 2014 Emmy Awards. The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards are on Monday night, (Matthias Clamer/FX/Associated Press)

Calgary's harsh winter has meant a hot award season for some productions filmed in the area.

Fargo received 18 Emmy nominations this year — second only to HBO's hit show Game of Thrones. The dark comedic miniseries based on the Coen brothers' 1996 film was shot in downtown Calgary and other areas around the city in some extremely cold weather.

Stephanie Gorin, left, Rachel Tenner and Jackie Lind, right, celebrate their win for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special for Fargo at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys. (emmys.com)

Calgary's film commissioner Luke Azevedo says the show's success has helped drive production in the area —​ even in sub-zero temperatures.

"Because of our weather, obviously, for many years you start to see things drop off around the October, November time frame because of how cold it gets," he said. "But with the building of the studio facilities and with the type of projects that we're now seeming to attract on a consistent basis we are hoping this will keep working consistently all year for many years to come."

Jackie Lind, the show's casting director, took home a Creative Arts Emmy last week for her work finding actors who can nail a Minnesota accent. 

She thanked her husband, crew and her mom.

"My mom is dying and I wanted to win this one for her," said Lind backstage at the awards.

Klondike, a miniseries filmed around Calgary and Kananaskis, also picked up a nod for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries. An Apple commercial, which featured Chris Ippolito and 22 members of his family from Calgary, also took home an award.

New studio to bolster Calgary's film industry

Talent agent Wendy Lumby, who also recruited actors for Fargo, said the show "really sucks you in and gets you involved in the characters."

"And for having it been filmed here, in downtown Calgary and surrounding areas, it's really good for our economy and I think it's a fantastic opportunity to showcase what we have as Calgarians here," she said.

This photo released by FX Networks shows Colin Hanks as Gus Grimley in Fargo. The actor reportedly called Calgary's winter "demoralizing." (Matthias Clamer/FX/Associated Press)

Lumby says the last year has been busier than usual for the industry.

"We filmed six movies so far already just in the summer months," she said.

Lumby says big productions like Fargo and Hell on Wheels have kept crews bustling, and her phone has been ringing off the hook.

She says another exciting project coming up is a movie from Leonardo DiCaprio. He took a tour of Alberta's oilsands last week to do research for the project.

Lumby says the Calgary Film Centre, a new state-of-the-art studio expected to open in the fall of 2015, is also helping draw Hollywood to Alberta's picturesque Prairies.

"Calgary, especially with our westerns, it's getting out there in the public eye," she said. "We're in a lot of movies. Our scenery is amazing out here. And with this new studio coming up it's really looking up for Calgary and Canada."

Azevedo hopes that successful TV show featuring Calgary's winters, as in Fargo, will keep drawing new films to the area year round.

"With the amount of accolades and Emmys that Fargo has generated, the attention is coming onto Alberta fairly significantly," said Azevedo.


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