Alberta’s film and television industry came to a screeching halt on Mar. 17 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold here in Canada.
The Canada-United States border has since been closed to anyone aside from essential service providers.
The film industry relies on large production crews, actors, makeup artists and wardrobe departments, extras and more in order to create movie magic. Many of these productions include people who travel from abroad.
The local branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union says there was an immediate impact.
“Everyone is hurting in every industry, but arguably our industry was the first to go down and it went down entirely,” says local IATSE president Damian Petti. “We had a number of projects in various stages of production that went down immediately, so the job losses are across the board.”
Petti estimates there are around 3,000 screen workers in the province who are all now out of work.
One of those people is Airdrie based makeup artist Amanda Tozser. The three film projects he had lined up have been placed on hold or completely shutdown.
“Everybody's been told to stay at home and every part of the industry has been put on hold for now,” says Tozser.
In 2018, film and television was a $236 million industry in the province.
Last year, some big-budget productions used Alberta as a backdrop including "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." The COVID-19 situation has led to movie studios pushing back the release dates for those films.
The shutdown has also impacted another production slated to take place in the province. The Amazon series "Outter Range," being produced by Brad Pitt and starring Josh Brolin, has cancelled plans to shoot in Alberta.
At this point, Petti says they are expecting this shutdown will likely continue for at least the next four or five months.