It’s been three years since local film actor Sonia Donaldson landed a major role, a sign of the limited opportunities available for veteran actors in the city’s pint-sized film industry.
But that bleak outlook for local talent will transform by the fall, she says, when Lions Gate Entertainment, a major U.S. film studio, embarks on a two-year project planned for the city.
The California-based company will film 26 episodes for a new sci-fi TV series at locations around Edmonton, spending at least $40 million over two years while spin-off activity is estimated to haul in an additional $36 million in revenue.
“We finally have a chance to flex our muscles in the acting community and get to be actors again, maybe on a regular basis,” Donaldson said upon hearing of the TV series.
Mayor Stephen Mandel said initial plans to bring the production to Edmonton began last year and finally solidified when the city and the province offered nearly $9 million in grants — enticing the studio away from Vancouver and Montreal.
“This is a great day for our acting community,” he said. “It’s a great day for those people that left Edmonton because they couldn’t find the jobs.”
The series could bring long-term stability to the city’s film industry, he added, by tempting other studios to follow their lead and set up local production outfits.