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Mountain View Regional Film Office racks up another award

Online database endeavours to entice film production opportunities to Mountain View County, Didsbury and Sundre
From left: Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers; Eloisa Klementich, International Economic Development Council chair; Amanda Mercer, Economic Developers Alberta chair; Alexandra Ross, Didsbury’s economic development officer; Jon Allan, Sundre’s economic development officer; Sundre mayor Richard Warnock; and Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter. Allan and Ross high-five Mercer after the Mountain View Regional Film Office was named winner in the category of Innovative Approach to Economic Development Project for Small Community/Region at the Economic Developers Alberta 2024 Xperience Conference. Submitted photo

DIDSBURY – The Mountain View Regional Film Office’s ongoing effort to entice production teams to pursue their next big project in the area has once again been recognized.

The MVRFO was recently named winner in the category of Innovative Approach to Economic Development Project for Small Community/Region at the Economic Developers Alberta 2024 Xperience Conference, a three-day event that is held annually in Kananaskis and this year reached its milestone 50th anniversary.

Alexandra Ross, economic development officer for Didsbury, and her Sundre-counterpart Jon Allan said being named the recipients of the award demonstrates the extent to which the results speak for themselves.

They were among a participating panel of six people representing the office at the conference, including Sundre mayor Richard Warnock, Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter as well as Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers.

“It feels like we’ve accomplished something really tangible and impactful,” said Allan.

“We were able to really showcase the effect, the impact the project had from I would say the number of productions, the number of inquiries we got. We really put our region on the map,” said Ross, adding the office continues to receive numerous inquiries.

While there is physical representation at each partner’s municipal office, the project thrives primarily as a digital product and resource page that delivers an online database that also serves as a single point of contact to help facilitate film productions in the region.

“It’s very intense what needs to be done when a production is coming into your area,” said Ross.

“There’s considerations like policy, the labour that is required, community impact, but also considerations that make it all worthwhile,” said Allan.

“It creates jobs, it puts direct money right into the economy. It puts your community on the map,” he said, adding it can also potentially pave the way for greater economic diversification.

So the MVRFO opens many doors, said Ross.

“Our website is not just a tool for customized service to the film industry,” she said, adding it also has the potential to provide investment opportunities as well as entice tech companies and talent that cater to the industry.

“It’s something that is intended to also attract spinoff industries like the tech industry that serves specifically the film and media industries as well,” said Allan.

“We’ve already been seeing dividends,” he said.

Productions of course have many expenses involved, and when an independent production company came to Sundre to film a show tentatively called Project: Six-Shooter, that team “contributed directly into the Sundre economy about $45,000 just from about a week of shooting, which is really good,” he said.

“And that’s a small independent project. So imagine what the larger projects could bring.”

Yet the beneficial economic ripple effects extend beyond the direct impact of film productions spending money in a community like Didsbury, where parts of shows like Wynonna Earp: Vengeance were filmed.

“Tourism is a big thing,” said Ross, adding the number of visitors at the museum in Didsbury was up by about 900 people compared with the year prior.

And roughly 200 people are expected to come to Didsbury later this year for a one-day event leading up to a weekend convention in Calgary called Earptopia.

“So we can see the impact it has on our community,” she said.

Looking to the year ahead, they could not confirm whether there might be any upcoming production plans or provide any sneak peaks on the next big film project planned in the region.

“It’s really hard to actually disclose anything that does come,” said Ross. “They are very hush-hush about those things.”

However, she added an effort to develop and implement a strategic plan is underway.

“We need to take the film office to the next level,” said Allan. “We’re going to be working on developing a major strategic plan that will guide us into the future for the next few years ... it will also incorporate a film festival component as well.”

Ross said the latest accolades marked the third award the office has received after winning two national awards last year during the Economic Development Association of Canada’s annual convention, where it was recognized in the categories of Community Collaboration as well as Promotional Video.

“The film office is now a multiple award winning show office,” said Allan, adding the latest award is a testament to what can be achieved through regional collaboration when people put their minds together in the spirit of innovation.

“And we’re just getting started.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated to clarify that Mountain View Regional Film Office does not have a physical office and exists primarily as an online database and removed a reference to filming around Didsbury’s museum.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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