Alberta - Filming Locations

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Mar 6th, 2018, 04:29 AM
  #1
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Alberta - Filming Locations

Hi there,

I'm currently organizing a shoot with a television crew, based in the UK but flying over to Canada in June/July.

We're looking for a location that is almost a wilderness - deserted, bleak, no trees or life anywhere. It's supposed to represent an alien landscape - I suppose the thing that springs to mind is glaciers.

We'll be based in Edmonton, Alberta, but can travel if necessary.

I suppose my question is firstly, do you have solid glaciers in Edmonton/Alberta at that time of year? (Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but I'm worried as it'll be summer!)

Secondly, are there any specific areas we should check out that sound like they fit the bill?

Thanks in advance!
katex57 is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2018, 09:40 AM
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Take a look at Sudbury Ontario. There has been some regreening but it still fits your description.

Sudburians recall Armstrong's giant leap for ma... | Sudbury Star
xcountry is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2018, 10:52 AM
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I'm not sure a glacier would make sense. For one, it would take a lot of safety precautions for filming to even be feasible. At a minimum, you'd need to have the area cleared for safety by mountain guides and have guides provide training and on site during filming to ensure safety. Secondly, there is only one glacier that is accessible by road (and even then, not by private vehicle), and most are within national or provincial parks. To film in the parks you must apply for special permits -- that has to be done well in advance, isn't cheap and they don't approve all applications. You've got to have a pretty good reason to be filming in parks and be able provide details about how you will meet their requirements/prevent & mitigate any damage.

To answer your questions - glaciers are solid year round. Otherwise they wouldn't be glaciers. They're snow covered in winter -- here that''s usually sometime in October until sometime in June. In the summer, some areas may stay a bit snow covered, but many areas are just ice. That makes it easier in terms of being able to see crevasses, but you need to have crampons to safely move around on the surface.

It really sounds like you're looking for either alpine scenery or tundra rather than glacier - that would be no trees, possibly some scrub. In this area, that's going to be tricky as most alpine areas are either in parks and/or difficult to access. It's generally helicopter access, which isn't cheap and needs to be booked in advance. I doubt you'd find anything within easy driving distance of Edmonton -- it's a good 4hrs to the mountains from Edmonton. You might find something on crown land in David Thompson Country, but you'd have to find out about any needed permits and find a place to stay. Mid June through end of September is VERY busy in the mountains - accommodation is already booking up for holiday weekends (July 1 weekend, for one).

Remember that here, unlike the UK, there is no "right to roam" -- filming just about anywhere here will require permits, so you need to get going on that now. I would suggest contacting Yamnuksa (https://yamnuska.com/group-corporate/movie-and-film/). They're a mountain guiding company that has for many years provided location scouting, location support, rigging, climbing doubles etc for TV and film. Of recent they've done things like Revenent and Amazing Race Canada and Heartland. They will know the area very well and can give you a realistic picture of costs, permits, locations etc.
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Mar 14th, 2018, 02:09 PM
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For filming you may want to contact some of the BC Government supported groups that support filming, including finding proper locations.
https://www.creativebc.com/
Film & Television Production - Vancouver Economic CommissionVancouver Economic Commission

BC has far more glaciers than does Alberta, and many are not in parks and may have less restrictions. The Pemberton Icefield just north of Whistler springs to mind.

But if filming on glaciers, take special note of the warnings kgsneds mentioned about filming on glaciers. His warnings are right on. They can be deceptively treacherous and many experienced mountaineers have found themselves falling into hidden unapparent crevasses - if they were properly roped up and trained they usually survive, if not, the film ends. (When I was younger I went through typical mountain club training before venturing onto glaciers, including being lowered into a crevasse and told to do a self rescue with prusicks ... even after training it was difficult ... one of the guys in our course got stuck ... it took all 5 or so of us pulling on 2 ropes to free him.)

But... all sorts of "other-worldly" country abounds, such as (you can google them):
  • The badlands and hoodoos around Drumheller Alberta
  • The massive amounts of rubble around collapsed mountain sides at the Frank Slide near Crowsnest Pass Alberta or the Hope Slide near Manning Park BC (both are near roads and habitation, but well framed shots would avoid them)
  • The semi-desert country near Kamloops and Cache Creek, and Lillooet BC
  • The tundra in the far north north of Edmonton
  • The northern stunted forests hundreds on miles north of Edmonton
Or further afield:
  • The Belknap Crater and Lava Fields near Bend Oregon
  • some of the areas devastated by the Mt St. Helens volcano in Washington State

But as you know, by framing careful shots and proper editing you can make any location seem desolate ... even locations inside cities. You need to figure out what kind of shots and scenery you need.
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Mar 18th, 2018, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by xcountry View Post
Take a look at Sudbury Ontario. There has been some regreening but it still fits your description.
I agree, beautiful place
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Mar 19th, 2018, 01:10 PM
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Pemberton would be a good suggestion if your budget stretches to what is required for glacier filming. It's certainly been used for many a film & movie. Much of the hoodoos around Drumheller are either in provincial parks, and my guess is that they'd be reluctant to allow filming right by any hoodoos as they are often fragile. Same for Crowsnest Pass - the actual Frank Slide is a provincial historic site and I doubt, given it's essentially a mass grave, they'd allow filming there.

Again, I would get in contact ASAP with one of the companies and/or provincial agencies that is familiar with locations and processes and costs. They will be much better equipped to know where it's feasible given your needs, budgets and permitting issues. At this point, you will also need to have accommodations settled soon as places can book up quickly in tourist destinations like the Rockies and BC. If you can come sooner, that might be better - accommodation costs tend to be a lot cheaper prior to mid May, and thinks will be a lot bleaker prior to spring bloom (another week or two of melt and just about anywhere from Edmonton south would probably be suitable for your shoot!).

Sounds familiar about crevasse rescue training. Even with a pulley system, getting someone out of crevasse takes work. We didn't prussik out of a crevasse, but we did have to prussik up a rope tie to the front porch of one of the alpine huts. Not easy!!
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