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‘Creating Content’ Workshop a Success!

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AMPIA and Digital Alberta’s workshop ‘Creating Content in the Film, TV and Digital Worlds’ was delivered this past weekend at the Banff Centre, and we are happy to report it was a resounding success! Over 50 participants from both the Film/TV & Digital communities heard insightful commentary from a high profile group of broadcasters, digital strategists and Government agencies inlcuding Tessa Sproule, Head of Interactive for CBC, Neal MacDougall, Senior Policy Analyst of the Canada Media Fund, and CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies.  ***Read Peter’s presentation HERE (as posted on the CRTC website)***

The workshop included panels on Narrative Strategies, Social Media and the Law, and Following the Money. The session also featured case studies of successful cross-platform content productions, and a number of networking events designed to encourage collaboration between Film, TV and Digital Producers. In all, over 60 meetings were facilitated, and participants left the Banff Centre enthused about future collaborations and already talking about next steps – very exciting!

Thanks to Michelle Sklar, Kevin Dahl, Owen Brierley and Joanne Douthwaite of Digital Alberta, Kerry Stauffer, Mark Resch, Greta Hall and Jean MacPherson of the Banff Centre and as well as our moderators, Luke Azevedo, Philip Letourneau, Colin Curwen and Chair of AMPIA’s Professional Development Committee, Joe Novak. Thanks also to our sponsors Telefilm Canada, Alberta Film, The Banff Centre, Calgary Economic Development, Macleod DIxon, Adobe, Chelsea Lukas Creative, techvibes and Prime Capital Leasing. Well done everyone!

2011 David Billington Award Luncheon a Smash Hit!

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From L to R: AMPIA Executive Director Bill Evans, Cael Johnston, Mike Shields, Shaun Johnston & his wife Susan

A great big thank-you to all who came out Saturday November 5th to honour Shaun Johnston at our 23rd Annual David Billington Award Luncheon!

Approximately 200 people were at this year’s event, and many stories and many laughs were shared.  In the words of former Billington Award recipient Fil Fraser: “It was like the room was one big hug.”

Other comments we’ve received:

-“Congratulations to Bill and the team for producing a ‘moving’, entertaining, well organized and successful celebration of excellence in Alberta!”

-“Really enjoyed seeing Fred Keating hosting again!”

-“Your organization did a great job of venue, meals, speeches and overall organization. Great job!”

-“A wonderful event guys. Congratulations to both of you and your team for putting on one of the best Billingtons I have attended.”

-” It was a great afternoon.  Well planned and well executed.  I was proud and happy to be a part of it.  Nice to see Shaun get the award and also so many former winners in attendance.  It was a great day.  Our industry needs a big “hug in” once in a while.  Build a little community spirit!”

Read about the recent AMPIA sponsored Comedy Panel at CIFF

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“The Great Canadian Comedy Sellout” – held October 1st  in conjuntion with the CIFF, was an overwhelming success!   Those who attended got to hear a panel of industry experts advise indie filmmakers on how to produce and sell a comedy movie. Guest speakers included Michael Petersen (Lloyd The Conqueror), Aaron Houston (Sunflower Hour), Michael Sparaga (Servitude), Dave Lawrence ( A Legend Of Whitey, Fubar, Fubar II), and independent sales and distribution consultant Angie Burns, formerly of Maple Pictures (now bought out by Alliance Films). Read all about it HERE

And the Gemini goes to…

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The 2011 Gemini Awards, were handed out Sept. 7th in Toronto and there was a big win for Prairie Dog Film & Television’s drama series Blackstone. Congratulations to Michelle Thrush on winning the Gemini for Best Actress in a Drama! This is the second Gemini award for Blackstone, the show also took home a Gemini Award for Best Achievement in Main Title Design.

AMPIA also extends its heartiest congratulations to the Alberta-based winners who received their Geminis at earlier award ceremonies.

Edmonton’s Clearwater Documentary won two Gemini Awards for The Code Breakers – ‘Best Science and Nature Documentary’ and ‘Best Photography in a Documentary Program’. The one hour documentary, written, produced and directed by filmmaker Tom Radford and Arctic scientist Niobe Thompson, also won multiple awards at AMPIA’s Rosie Awards in May.

Congratulations also go out to Calgary’s SEVEN24 Films for Alberta Watson’s ‘Best Performance in a Guest Role’ award for Heartland – Where the Truth Lies.

We salute our winners, and all our Alberta nominees – well done!

Shaun Johnston to receive the 2011 David Billington Award

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2011 David Billington Award Luncheon to take place November 5th at the Westin Hotel Calgary

Shaun Johnston

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 – The Board of the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) is pleased to name Shaun Johnston as the recipient of the 2011 David Billington Award.

Shaun grew up in Ponoka, Alberta. “Having grown up on the prairies has had a great influence on my work as an actor.”  Shaun explains, “I like to believe my approach is open and natural.  I guess I’m a product of my environment.”  After a few hard working years on the farm and in the oil patch, Shaun decided to return to college and study law.  It was at the University of Alberta that a drama elective inspired him to change direction. Shaun was classically trained in theatre at the U of A, and from this beginning, he has built his career in Alberta.

He won his first of several Rosie Award for his portrayal of Wes in Two Brothers a Girl and a Gun, and continued gathering accolades in a variety of roles. Today he has an impressive list of film and television credits, the most recent being Jack Bartlett, the patriarch on the CBC hit series Heartland, a role for which he has won the Best Actor Rosie for the past two years, and for which he has received a Gemini nomination. Other roles Shaun is known for are Rich Dearden in Destiny Ridge and Jake Trumper in the classic series Jake and the Kid.  He’s guest starred on X-Files, Outer Limits, DaVinci’s Inquest, Blue Murder, Dead Man’s Gun, North of 60, The Dead Zone, Smallville and Traders. He also had roles as Capt. Alexander Fancher in September Dawn, as Col. Nelson Miles in HBO’s Emmy Award winning Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and as adventurer P.V. Scaturro in Touch the Top of the World. Features Shaun has acted in include Heart of the Sun, Tribe of Joseph, Super Volcano, Agent of Influence and Dinosaur Hunter.

Shaun was a co-founder (along with John Hudson) of Shadow Theatre, a well respected, subscription based theatre company that is thriving today in Edmonton. Shaun will perform in their 20th anniversary production of Fool For Love in February, 2012.Shaun has been very active in charity work. He founded the Big Brothers Big Sisters Centre Ice Challenge, an annual celebrity hockey game that raises funds and awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary. He is also responsible for the Doug Blackie Memorial Crew Challenge. This is an anytime event that creates an honourable competition of any kind between working film crews in Alberta and benefits the charity of their choice. The Doug Blackie Memorial Cup has been awarded 5 times and has raised over $40,000.00.

Shaun lives in Edmonton with Sue, his wife of 27 years and their two sons, Shea and Cael.

“We are very excited to have Shaun as our Billington Award Recipient this year,” says AMPIA Executive Director Bill Evans. “He is the embodiment of the true spirit of Alberta in his work as an actor and as a person dedicated to our industry.”

The Award will be presented at a gala lunch on Saturday, November 5th, 2011 at the Westin Hotel in Calgary.To order tickets, please click here:

Billington Ticket Order Form – 2011

Heartland, FUBAR II Nominated for DGC Awards

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AMPIA sends hearty congratulations to two Alberta productions nominated for 2011 Director’s Guild of Canada Awards! the CBC dramatic series Heartland is nominated for two awards: Best Television Series – Family, and Best Sound Editing; while FUBAR II: Balls to the Wall is nominated for Best Picture Editing- Feature Film. A full list of nominees can be found on the DGC website.


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Wednesday, August 03, 2011 – The Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) congratulates all Alberta nominees for the Gemini Awards, announced today by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. We are also proud to note that five of AMPIA’s board members are included in this year’s Gemini Awards nominations list. This year’s 26th Annual Gemini Awards celebrate the best in Canadian English language television and digital media.

In total, 19 Alberta-based entries are nominated in 18 class, craft and performance categories – the highest number of nominations for our province in the past 3 years!

Calgary’s SEVEN24 Films leads the way with 5 nominations for their dramatic series Heartland and the dramatic movie-of-the week A Heartland Christmas (CBC); Edmonton’s Aquila Productions follows with 4 nominations for their documentary series Rodeo – Life on the Circuit (History Channel) and Oil Change (TSN); Edmonton’s Clearwater Documentary also has 4 nominations for their documentaries Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands and Code Breakers (CBC); and Edmonton’s Prairie Dog Film & Television had 3 nominations for their dramatic series Blackstone (APTN).

Other Alberta nominees include: X-Weighted (Slice) from Edmonton-based Anaïd Productions, CAUTION: May Contain Nuts (APTN), from Edmonton’s Mosaic Entertainment, and Anash and the Legacy of the Sun Rock (APTN), from Edmonton’s Panacea Entertainment.

The 26th Annual Gemini Awards will be held in Toronto over three nights, with the Industry Awards taking place on Tuesday, August 30th and Wednesday, August 31st. The Red Carpet Gala will be broadcast live on CBC Television on September 7th at 8pm ET.

For a complete list of all Alberta nominees please download the pdf below:
26th Annual Gemini Awards – Alberta Nominees
**If your Alberta-based production nomination is not included on this list, please let us know by emailing:

To see the complete list of 26th Annual Gemini Award nominees please go to:

AMPIA Welcomes CRTC Group Licence Renewals

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On July 27th the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) renewed the licences of all English-language television services operated by Rogers Media until 2014, and the licences of the services operated by Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Shaw Media until 2016.

In renewing the licenses for almost all English-language television services in Canada, the CRTC estimates Canadian content requirements will spark billions in domestic programming investment over the five- and three-year license terms.

In the next five years, Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Shaw Media must allocate at least 30 per cent of their gross annual revenues to the production of Canadian programs. They must also direct at least 5 per cent of these expenditures to finance Programs of National Interest (formerly referred to as Priority Programming), with the exception of Corus Entertainment who will be required to allocate at least 9 per cent of their gross annual revenues.

Along with other intervenors, AMPIA appeared at the CRTC Group Licence renewal hearing this past April during which we submitted to the Commission a copy of a report that we and AAMPTU jointly commissioned from Nordicity, in which it was detailed that a number of tangible benefits for regional programming resulting from previous changes in ownership transactions as well as certain previous license renewals remained unexpended at the end of 2009. The report also detailed that the level of investment in regional programming by private broadcasters in Alberta as well as the prairie provinces overall had significantly diminished between 2003 and 2009.

AMPIA is pleased to note that one of the key conditions of these licence renewals requires specific and annual reporting of regional spending and, where applicable, a plan to disburse any existing unexpended tangible benefits for independent production.

The ruling also requires regular visits to the regions by Broadcaster programming executives. Overall, this is a significant CRTC decision both for independent production across Canada and more specifically for independent production in the regions.

Thank you to the AMPIA Broadcast Committee, the AMPIA Board and AAMPTU for their help in putting our intervention together, and thank you to the CRTC for their strong support for regional independent production.

To read the complete decision, please click here.

The Alberta Creative Hub Receives City of Calgary Funding

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Calgary Film Commission - Calgary Economic Development
Long-awaited funding is a major step towards development of permanent sound stage facilities in Calgary.

(CALGARY) – Today, the Alberta Creative Hub Corporation (ACH) is excited to announce that it has received approval from Calgary City Council for $10 million in funding through the Cultural Space Investment Process for the building of the Alberta Creative Hub, an innovative initiative by Calgary Economic Development.

“The approval from Council for $10 million in funding represents a significant step towards the development of the Alberta Creative Hub,” says Luke Azevedo, Calgary Commissioner – Film, Television & Creative Industries, Calgary Economic Development. “After completing extensive stakeholder engagement and due diligence, we are confident that this facility will enable Calgary to remain a competitive location for film and television production and grow our local industry.

Calgary is no stranger to the film and television industry. The city is well-known for its breathtaking scenery as well as its award-winning crews. To date, Calgary- and Alberta-based crews have amassed more Emmy, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations than any other jurisdiction in Canada. However, the city is also the only major film and television centre in Canada without permanent sound stage facilities. The Alberta Creative Hub will address this concern, along with providing collaborative space and opportunities for training and mentorship.

“The support of Calgary City Council through the Cultural Space Investment Process highlights the City’s ongoing commitment to arts and culture spaces,” says Bruce Graham, President & CEO, Calgary Economic Development. “The Alberta Creative Hub will allow Calgary to continue to attract foreign projects while ensuring the next generation of local filmmakers have opportunities to train and work without moving to another jurisdiction.”

The City of Calgary’s funding will be released over a two year period, starting in 2011. The Alberta Creative Hub has also applied for funding from the Provincial and Federal Governments through applicable granting programs. An offer to purchase has been presented to WinSport Canada for land at Canada Olympic Park.

For more information contact:
Calgary Economic Development


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