At a time when Albertans can’t have big, splashy weddings, perhaps the next best thing was happening Wednesday at the historic Lougheed House in Calgary: a production crew was busy shooting a wedding scene for a movie.
“The movie we are making here is called Rent-A-Groom,” writer and associate producer Steve Goldsworthy said. “The story is about a young book editor whose grandmother’s dying wish is to see her get married, and romance and comedy ensue.”
Lougheed House is usually booked solid for ceremonies on weekends all through the warm months, but that hasn’t been happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has been difficult, definitely,” said Lougheed House’s Judy Uwiera, adding that having the national historic site booked for three days of shooting is a nice boost.
“Having the production here has helped the bottom line, for sure,” Unwiera said.
Alberta’s film industry has done well during the pandemic, fueled by demand for new material brought on by the growth of streaming services.
“The film industry really seems to be a bit of a poster child for doing COVID correctly,” Goldsworthy said.
That includes productions having a COVID compliance officer on set all day, every day.
“Our temperature is taken. Every third day, everybody gets swabbed and tested,” Goldsworthy said. “You have to have a negative test before you can come anywhere near us.”
About 50 cast and crew members are working on Rent-A-Groom — all of them from Alberta.
“Some of them have actually come from other industries, including oil and gas,” Goldsworthy said.
Production manager Josh Brennand is enjoying the experience after working in a field that’s been hit hard by COVID-19.
“I went from (the restaurant business), not having a job,” Brennand said, “and to leave that and be in an industry that’s rising, this is just a dream.”
There’s optimism that big weddings will soon be back for real at Lougheed House.
“People are looking into the future,” Uwiera said, “and so they are booking in 2022 or later in 2021.”
“Rent-A-Groom is already booked to run on TV in Europe, with producers hoping to soon sign a similar deal for North America.
“This is probably what people need to see a little bit more of,” Goldsworthy said. “A little taste of hopefully things to come.”