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Filming Abracadavers in Sundre 'like returning home,' says producer

Alberta-based Numera Films was in Sundre to shoot part of Abracadavers’ third season

SUNDRE – Returning to shoot a portion of Abracadavers’ third season in Sundre was reminiscent of a homecoming, said one of the show’s producers.

“It kind of felt like returning home,” said Griffin Cork, who was in town last year with a cast and crew from Alberta-based Numera Films to work on a production tentatively called Project: Six Shooter.

“The crew still talks about their time in Sundre,” Cork told the Albertan during a phone interview.

“People still talk about like how great the background performers we brought on were or how great the locations were,” he said.

A film team was most recently at the Sundre and District Museum’s World of Wildlife exhibit as well as the Sundre Contracting gravel extraction site to shoot part of Abracadavers Season 3 on May 19.

“We missed the town, so it’s good to be back,” he said. “It was almost like a little mini vacation in the middle of filming, funny enough.”

Asked what about Sundre ultimately led the production team to pick the town as a location to film part of the third season of Abracadavers, he said, “It’s kind of three-fold.”

The film team first discovered the museum and its wildlife taxidermy exhibit last year while in town filming Project: Six Shooter, he said.

“So when we knew we had the production coming up in the year, we wrote a scene in the series specifically to film at the museum. We liked the location so much that we wrote the scene for that location,” he elaborated.

The welcoming, open-arm reception and the proverbial rolling out of the red carpet also further solidified the film team’s decision to return to Sundre.

“Being received by the town so warmly when we shot there last summer, it was kind of an impetus to come back,” he said.

“There’s always a charm to shooting in the smaller towns rather than the big city centres in Alberta, I think, just because of how well it’s received. It’s a bit more of an event and people are a bit more personable.”

And the municipality also goes an “extra mile” with support from the Mountain View Regional Film Office facilitating the effort to scout locations and find to right spot to shoot, he said.

“Sundre makes it easy to film there," he said.

Yet there are always unpredictable factors such as the weather that can make a production a little more challenging, especially when filming away from a closed and controlled stage setting that’s outdoors and at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“We had some rain but in classic Alberta weather, we put our production on hold for about 20 minutes and the rain passed and then we kept shooting,” he said, adding everything worked out well regardless.

“We’ve had much longer delays even on this production. It’s what I’m sure a lot of people call the nature of the beast.”

Responding to another question about whether the Numera Films team intends to keep Sundre on the short-list of locations to return for future projects either for more Abracadavers or other productions, Cork said shooting for the former wraps up on May 27 and that he did not anticipate being back to film any more for this season.

“But we’ve got some development money for a new series we’ve been planning,” he said, adding a location at Schott’s Lake just west of Sundre has caught the team’s attention.

“That’s been in the mouths of our writers and producers quite a bit as maybe the central location for the next series,” he said, emphasizing the idea remains in the discussion phase.

“I won’t sit here and make promises, but it’s come up quite a few times.”

As for an update on Project: Six Shooter, Cork said that production “has progressed further than we could have imagined it did.”

That success can to no small degree be attributed to the locations in Sundre, he said.

“I think a large part of that is because of locations like the pioneer museum and the historic building,” he said.

“The studio that we partnered with was really impressed with the production value of the project.”

Unable to comment much further on Project: Six Shooter’s status, Cork was able to confirm that the show was initially going to be more of a “niche-boutique” release but later called it an “expectation-surpassing project that had to change the scope of the release.”

“After watching the first iteration of the project, the studio has since shifted gears and the release will be a bit more a bit more grand,” he said. “There’s a lot of international partners who are teaming up on how to release it.”

However, anyone with an itchy trigger finger to see Project: Six Shooter will have to remain patient a while longer as there is no tentative release date yet.   

And while Cork candidly confessed not holding his breath, he was encouraged by the interest expressed by the studio and said it was a matter of waiting and seeing where that goes.

“We should have more news – at the very latest – by early 2025,” he said.

Over at the Sundre museum, executive director Carrie Couch said they were pleased to welcome the crew.

“We started very early in the day to minimize guest disruption,” said Couch by email in response to questions.

“When guests did start to arrive, the crew was so accommodating, explaining the process, and showing some of the action from behind the scenes,” she said. “It certainly was a unique museum experience that does not happen every day.”

With filming wrapped up after lunch, guests were still able to check out all of the exhibits in the World of Wildlife and throughout the rest of the grounds where filming was not occurring, she added.

Couch said the Sundre and District Historical Society and museum staff feel fortunate to have all of those spaces available and be able to share them publicly in a such a way.

“It always amazes us how they can shoot these scenes in such confined locations and with such unique obstacles,” she said.

“The museum director admittedly is nervous on these days, but this film crew has been very good to deal with and they respect our history and the importance of our museum and the objects we safeguard.”

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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