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Tin Star moved mountains to film in Alberta

Tin Star

Tim Roth’s crime drama Tin Star moved mountains in Alberta, western Canada, to create the visuals for the Sky Original Production. 

The ten-part series follows a British detective as he relocates his family to Alberta in search of a quieter life but ends up becoming embroiled in a local crime wave.

British production company Kudos filmed in Alberta, but had to combine two separate filming locations in the province to get the perfect setting.

The fictional town of Little Big Bear was filmed in High River near Calgary. These visuals were combined with mountain backgrounds captured as plate shots in the more distant and much smaller town of Waterton, which couldn’t support the full Tin Star crew.

“High River itself was perfect because most of it was built between 1930 and 1979, so it has a feeling of a town preserved in aspic,” said Rowan Joffe, creator and writer of Tin Star.  

“You’re reminded as you walk around of the iconic small towns of films from [David Cronenberg’s] A History of Violence through to [the Coen Brothers’] Fargo. 

“It has little cinemas, a small Chinese takeaway, red-brick banks, [and] its streets are perfectly clean and well-manicured. It has a funeral home you couldn’t have drawn more succinctly or poignantly in a comic book. It has the feel of a Western town because that’s what it was – it was a town established by cowmen and ranchers.”

For local contacts and more on filming in Alberta see KFTV's regional production guide.

Alberta is becoming a more popular Canadian filming location and is in fact currently best known for hosting three seasons of the acclaimed TV adaptation of Fargo. 

The province’s first film studio, the CA$28m Calgary Film Centre, opened in the spring of 2016 and just last week JR Studio opened as a smaller facility positioned in the regional market for productions with budgets up to about CA$10m. 

Offering improved studio infrastructure is a step towards boosting Alberta’s screen sector but the province is under pressure from Hollywood to expand its filming incentive support if it’s to truly stand out in the Canadian market.

Image: Sky Atlantic