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Erin O'Connor, General Manager of the Calgary Film Centre during the media tour of the new Calgary Film Centre in Calgary, Alta., on Thursday May 19, 2016. Leah Hennel/Postmedia

2016: The year's top moments in Alberta film and TV

Erin O'Connor, General Manager of the Calgary Film Centre during the media tour of the new Calgary Film Centre in Calgary, Alta., on Thursday May 19, 2016. Leah Hennel/Postmedia

The Alberta-shot epic The Revenant cleans up at the Academy Awards, Calgary gets a new film centre and the second season of Fargo gets 18 Emmy nominations. These were just some of the highlights for the local film and television industry this year.

Jan. 19

Bruce McCulloch’s Young Drunk Punk, a sitcom about Calgary in the early 1980s, nets seven Canadian Screen Award nominations, including one for best comedy series. There were nominations for Gavin Smith for best photography in a comedy program or series, two best picture editing nods for Trevor Ambrose and Paul Winestock, Ron Murphy for best direction in a comedy series, Atticus Mitchell for best performance by an actor in a support role and Tracy Ryan, McCulloch’s wife, for best performance by an actress in a supporting role. The show debuted on City last January and was made a part of the CBC’s fall season. Sadly, it was not picked up for a second season.

Feb. 28

The Revenant, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s epic Alberta-shot film, picks up three wins on Oscar night, including a best actor win for Leonardo DiCaprio, best director for Inarritu and best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki. The movie hired more than 700 film workers during its difficult shoot in 2014 and 2015. But with 12 Oscar nods, it was also the most nominated film in the history of Alberta film. While no Albertans were on the ballot, nominations in production and costume design, visual effects, makeup and hairstyling recognizes the work of dozens of locals.

March 8

The Calgary Film Centre names Erin O’Connor as its first general manager. The facility, which opened in May, tapped into O’Connor’s long history in art’s management. The one-time Highland-dance champion and Young Canadian and worked with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and One Yellow Rabbit. Before becoming GM of the film centre she was managing director of Contemporary Calgary.

March 16

CBC announces it will renew the Alberta-shot family favourite Heartland for a 10th season.

The series, which is filmed in Calgary, High River and other areas of southern Alberta, began production on Season 10 on May 9 and wrapped earlier this month. The show, which is the longest-running Canadian drama, averaged more than a million viewers per episode in Season 9. The Calgary International Film Festival celebrated Heartland’s contribution to the local film and TV industry with a red-carpet gala in October.

April 1

The Calgary-based sci-fi series Wynonna Earp debuts on SyFy in the U.S. and CHCH.com in Canada. Developed and produced by Calgary-based Seven24 Films, the action-packed series was shot over six months in various parts of the city and in Cochrane, Springbank and Didsbury. It debuted to respectable ratings and great reviews and quickly garnered a strong cult following in Canada and the U.S. It was enough for SyFy to order a second season, which began production earlier this month.

May 8 to 12

Calgary plays host to the International Public Television Conference 2016 Screening Conference that attracted hundreds of producers, directors and writers from around the world to screen, watch and debate public television. It was the first time in 16 years that the event was held in Canada. CBC hosted the conference and formal discussions included Tough Topics: Would You Want Your Kids to See This?, Kill Bill: (How) We Can Adapt Entertainment Asian Style?, Ahaa! or Blaa Blaa? How To Turn New Ideas into Aha!-moments for Your Audience.

May 19

After years, many would argue decades, of chatter and debate, Calgary finally gets its first state-of-the-art film facility when the Calgary Film Centre opens its doors on May 19. The $28.2-million facility in Calgary’s southeast industrial area boasts three sound stages and 15,000 square-feet of warehouse space. At the moment, the centre is operating to full capacity with both the British western-noir series Tin Star with Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks and Season 3 of Fargo, which will star Ewan McGregor, setting up shop.

June 13

Filming begins on the British series, Tin Star, a modern “western-noir” starring Oscar nominee Tim Roth and Emmy nominee Christian Hendricks. The six-month shoot, which wrapped earlier this month, used High River, Bragg Creek and Waterton as locations. It was also the first production to make use of the $28.2-million Calgary Film Centre. The dark drama focuses on a Jim Worth (Roth) a former London detective turned police chief in a small town in the Rocky Mountains. When a giant oil company arrives in town, led by the mysterious Mrs. Bradshaw (Hendricks), it brings a criminal element that wreaks havoc on Worth and his family. After being terrorized by assassins, he revives a nasty alter ego named Jack Devlin. Producers are still negotiating a broadcaster in North America.

July 5

Calgary is more than ready for its closeup as a the star of Amazing Race Canada’s second episode, which aired July 5 but had been shot on a beautiful Sunday in late April. The nine teams met a grinning Mayor Naheed Nenshi in front of City Hall before embarking on an action-packed day that involved rappelling down the Calgary Tower, herding trout, sleeving vinyl records and ending the day in Calgary’s magnificent National Music Centre. As perhaps a reflection of Calgary’s friendly nature, no teams were eliminated during this round.

July 13

FX confirms that the Emmy-winning series Fargo will return to Alberta to shoot its third season. The season, which stars Ewan McGregor, is currently occupying two of the Calgary Film Centre’s state-of-the-art sound stages. While returning to Alberta may have seemed a given, industry insiders were nervous that the show was going to relocate. Cameras began rolling in December.

July 14

Season 2 of Fargo receives 18 Emmy nominations, including many for local crew who worked on the darkly comic series. While it would only go on to win two — for sound-editing and cinematography — it was the second year that the series had a major haul of nominations. It received nods in acting, writing and directing and one for best limited series. Local crew members were honoured with nominations in hair, makeup, casting, production design and sound mixing.

July 23

American network SyFy announces that the Calgary-based western Wynonna Earp will be renewed for a second season. The announcement was made at the San Diego Comic Con, where the cast was busy enjoying the devoted cult following it had earned in the first season. Production began in mid-December.

Sept. 21 — Oct. 3

The 17th annual Calgary International Film Festival breaks attendance records, attracting 36,693 film buffs to downtown theatres over the 12-day event. In its 17th year, the festival screened 211 films and attracted 76 filmmakers from around the world. Guests included directors Kim Nyugen and Aisling Walsh and actor Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Freaks & Geeks)

Oct. 3

Production begins on the high-profile American pilot Damnation in Alberta, a USA Network and NBC project that takes place in Iowa circa 1931.  Acclaimed British director David MacKenzie, who made waves this year with the Jeff Bridges’ film Hell or High Water, was at the helm for the pilot, while Irish actor Killan Scott was cast in the lead.  According to Deadline Hollywood, Scot was an 11th-hour replacement for Rectify’s Aden Young, who departed the series a week before shooting due to creative differences. Scott plays Seth Davenport, “a man pretending to be an Iowa preacher who is pitted against an industrialist tycoon and professional strikebreaker.” So far there has been no news if Damnation has been picked up as a series.

Dec. 13

Cameras begin rolling on the second season of the Calgary-based sci-fi series Wynonna Earp.

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