News / Calgary

Second film studio opens in Calgary

J R Studio will be home to productions not quite big enough for the Calgary Film Centre

Managing director Jim Walsh in front of the 37,000 square foot JR Studio.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Managing director Jim Walsh in front of the 37,000 square foot JR Studio.

The Calgary Film Centre now has a little brother.

J R Studio, located in Calgary’s northeast, has officially opened, becoming the city’s second dedicated film studio.

The 37,000 square foot facility is intended to work with film and television shows that don’t quite make the AAA budgets that the Calgary Film Centre is intended for.

“Our facility taps into shows that I would say are $40 million or less – probably even a little lower than that,” explained managing director Jim Walsh. “But, 80 to 85 per cent of movies made are in that range.”

Although the facility just now officially opened, it has been operating in some capacity for the past 14 months, and has already seen numerous productions move through, including HBO’s Lewis & Clark miniseries starring Casey Affleck.

The current project filming in the centre has full-fledged sets and about 200 crew working night and day in the studio.

On a tour of the studio, it’s clear that it can house some major projects.

On the back end, the five sets, almost all of which were oversized dwellings, sat comfortably spaced apart from each other, with plenty of room for cameras to move around. Nearby, an area has been sectioned off where crew were actively making props, and even a storage-unit set with removable panels for the camera to peer inside.

At the front of the building were offices and wardrobe, but there were also a set of stairs leading to a mezzanine, which not only overlooked the whole production, but also was home to another set – this time, graffiti-covered walls of a rough neighbourhood.

Outside the building is two acres of land, with more than enough space for the many trailers and mountains of equipment that accompany a major film production.

The studio is a venture by the Regal Group of Companies, which includes Regal Auctions. The building itself already had a bit of film history before Regal stepped in – it was the filming site of Don Johnson’s 1989 crime movie Dead Bang.

Walsh said Calgary has been fortunate to attract a number of productions in the past, and with more infrastructure for them to film, more will see Calgary as a great destination to make a movie or TV show.

“We have a downtown that can be a downtown anywhere in North America or the world,” said Walsh.

“We have scenery second to none. If you just want some rolling hills, we have that. You want mountains? Boy we got them. And if you want the plains, we got that. The diversity of what’s available is helping the industry grow further.

“Our facility takes it one more leap forward simply because it’s another studio, and that’s what’s important.”

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