The HBO TV series The Last of Us has not only made many Albertans proud to recognize their province on screen, but the wildly popular post-apocalyptic show is also expected to bring in more filming opportunities, and visitors.
Alberta is no stranger to the film industry, with movies The Revenant, Interstellar and Brokeback Mountain also shot in the province.
With The Last of Us achieving paramount success, Travel Alberta says it’s anticipating more filmmakers will want to use the province’s diverse landscape for shooting.
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Vice-president of Travel Alberta Tannis Gaffney says it’s also hoping for an increase in tourism.
“We’re optimistic for a busy summer season in Alberta and we’re hoping this is going to add more interest and more destination awareness,” Gaffney says. “Not necessarily just for Canadians, but we’re hoping that this really reaches the American audience and U.S. travellers because our U.S. travellers stay for longer and spend more.”
Travel Alberta has a map on its website that shows all 180 locations where The Last of Us was filmed and provides an itinerary for travellers to check out during their vacations, including sites like the mountain town of Canmore, downtown Calgary and Edmonton, Waterton Lakes National Park and others.
“We’ve been so excited about putting these sort of hidden gems on a map that you wouldn’t necessarily know,” Gaffney says, adding one of them is the town of Fort Macleod about 170 kilometres south of Calgary.
Gaffney says that The Last of Us is one of the biggest filming productions in Alberta’s history, matching similar production levels to Game of Thrones.
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Jessica Rovansek, who lives in Calgary and is a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology alum, worked on post-production of the show. The campus was also used for some scenes.
“It’s really like the first time that we got to do this for a big production company,” Rovansek says.
As a big fan of the video game The Last of Us is based on, Rovansek says having that personal connection was fulfilling.
She’s now working on the TV show Fargo as a direct result of working on The Last of Us.
About half of the sixth episode of The Last of Us was filmed at Mount Royal University in Calgary, says Brent Mann, director of Event, Theatre and Hospitality Services at the school.
“It’s really a huge accomplishment for the university and for this city to be able to meet the requirements they’re looking for,” Mann says. “We’re all pretty happy about it.”
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Over the last few weeks, the university had others approach it for filming opportunities and it’s done site tours with some production companies, Mann says.
During the pandemic, the school was looking for ways to make extra revenue and turned to the film industry.
“We’ve got some pretty incredible architecture that spans multiple decades here. So that always seems to be of great interest to those who are doing any kind of project that is film or television.”
Mann says what started out as a minor inconvenience for students and faculty turned out to have a positive effect on the campus community.
“I think any time you’re connected to something that is so popular, it gives you a little bit of cachet, a little swagger,” he says. “Students are proud of it. I sit in five meetings a day and it comes up in every one.”
– Angela Amato, The Canadian Press; this story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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