On May 2, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike, slowing film production all over North America, including the Foothills region.

Then, on July 2, actors with the SAG-AFTRA followed suit, putting a halt on American productions.

Roughly 3500 film workers in Southern Alberta have been affected by these strikes.

Brock Skretting, Head of Advocacy with Keep Alberta Rolling, explains that film workers have had to adapt.

"It's meant a limited job opportunity this year in the industry, which resulted in a number of crew members getting by on either stage work, with their skills, or alternate sectors, or using their skills in other ways," says Skretting. 

Not only have the strikes affected the local film workers, but communities have also been affected.

"So, the economic impact is probably going to be about half of what our good last couple of years have been, or what it would've been had the strike not happened," Skretting explains. "To put that in numbers terms, it will probably be anywhere from a $200-300 million-dollar economic impact instead of a $500-600 million-dollar economic impact on Alberta's economy." 

He says it's a drastic decrease of money flowing into Alberta's economy. Skretting adds that businesses outside of the film industry have been affected as well.

"Small businesses in communities throughout Alberta have benefited from these large productions coming in and using things like wardrobe, antiques, caterers and restaurants, service industries, lumber, paint, things that are used in materials to build these productions," Skretting says. He adds that this has also affected larger companies, such as airlines, hotels, and rental agencies.

But, there is a positive that came out of these strikes. According to Skretting, they helped to put a spotlight on local filmmakers.

"It also did result in some uptick on the independent and 100 per cent Canadian production side of things. So, if there is a positive to take out of it, it's that the spotlight that it shone on the need for us to grow our Indigenous and local film industries."

Skretting adds that this is simply a delay in business, not a complete loss. With the WGA and SAG-AFTRA having finalized new deals, work can be expected to return.

Larger productions, such as The Abandons and Billy the Kid plan to return to filming in the Calgary area next year.

Skretting adds that the momentum the local film community has garnered in the last several years will continue now that the strikes have ended, especially after how well shows like The Last of Us and Fargo have fared in ratings and awards nominations.

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