British Columbia

Liam Neeson film deemed too outrageous for Alberta park gets to shoot in B.C.

The Hard Powder crew had wanted to film in several of Alberta's mountain parks, but was turned down due to concerns over its plot featuring an Indigenous gang leader, played by Tom Jackson.

Parks Canada denied filming permits due to concerns over plot featuring Indigenous gang boss

Actor Liam Neeson, seen here in a promotional still from 'The Grey' (2011), will star in the movie 'Hard Powder,' which has been denied filming permits by Parks Canada. (Open Road Studios)

A movie denied permission to film in Alberta's mountain national parks is now on location in British Columbia.

"We have moved four to five days into B.C. for now," said Mark Voyce, unit manager for the film Hard Powder.

Voyce said staff for the movie are looking for extras for several days of filming in Fernie and Cranbrook.

The filmmakers had originally applied to Parks Canada for permits to film in several parts of the Rocky Mountain national parks in Alberta, including Banff, the Lake Louise townsite and ski hill, and the Columbia Icefields.

Weeks before the crew was scheduled to begin filming, Parks Canada turned them down. A letter from the agency listed eight deficiencies in their application, although staff with the production company said most of those questions had been answered in the original application.

Parks Canada officials later acknowledged the film's plot was a concern.

Banff National Park, seen in this undated handout photo, was one of the national parks in Alberta in which Hard Powder had wanted to film. (Travel Alberta/Canadian Press)

Indigenous gangster 'important factor'

Action star Liam Neeson is to play an honest snowplow driver whose son is murdered by a local drug kingpin. He then seeks to dismantle the cartel, but his efforts spark a turf war involving a First Nations gang boss, played by Indigenous actor, musician and Order of Canada recipient Tom Jackson.

Actor Tom Jackson poses with his humanitarian award at the Juno Awards gala dinner in 2007. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Parks Canada said concerns over the fact the gang leader was Indigenous was "an important factor in the agency's final decision."

Jackson wrote a letter to Parks Canada saying he had been given the chance to vet the script and insisted it wasn't disrespectful.

The movie's producer Michael Shamberg — whose previous credits include Erin Brockovich, A Fish Called Wanda and Get Shorty — said the crew planned to spend almost $5 million in Banff and Jasper over the course of the shoot.

Bill Evans, the head of the Alberta Media Production Industries Association, said he wasn't aware of a similar situation occurring previously. He worried the Parks Canada decision could affect future film activity in the parks.

"Funders are very risk averse so the potential for a production to get cancelled at the last minute is damaging."

Parks Canada said it receives far more applications to shoot movies than it can accommodate. Decisions on which productions can go ahead are made at the local level, a parks spokesperson said.