A gritty television drama about a debt-ridden, single mom working in the oilpatch has found a home in the small town of Sundre.
Work on the pilot begins in August, and Sundre will make its fictional debut as the community of Hardwell in the upcoming series Pipe Nation, being developed independently for Netflix.
Filmmaker Raoul Bhatt, of Edmonton, said while it is unusual for a woman to be the leader of a pipe gang, he wanted to tell a story from his own backyard and use an Alberta production team that understands the culture.
“Everyone has problems, and that’s what the show is all about. It’s humanizing our oil and gas industry. We’re not just Dow Jones. We’re not just energy numbers. It’s about the camaraderie, and the friendships, and overcoming a lot of hurdles,” Bhatt said.
And the Sundre area was the ideal location with fresh and beautiful landscapes, he said.
“We shopped all over. We went to Edson, Hinton. We even went into the parks. We found a lot of the cinematic views had already been done in Jasper and Banff. It’s all kind of been seen.
“We wanted to create a unique experience and a unique world where it’s not easily recognizable,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt, who has worked as a cinematographer and producer for the Daytime Emmys, as well as with Universal Studio’s Jurassic World, said shooting in Sundre is a chance to create 100 to 200 local jobs.
He said community support has been amazing. Sponsors have come forward to supply equipment and to consult for industry accuracy.
The main characters for Pipe Nation have been hired, but another casting call will be held in Sundre on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to about noon at the Greenwood Community Gazebo, located at 139 Centre St.
Bhatt said a lot of extras will be required for scenes on job sites and in town.
“We are looking for people beyond the pilot to develop other characters further down the season, so we want to hear from everybody,” Bhatt said.
Jon Allan, economic development officer with the Town of Sundre, said the municipality was working on a policy to streamline film production in the community when it learned about Bhatt’s project in early June.
“It’s a huge opportunity to create jobs in the film and creative arts industries, and construction, and trades, and tourism and hospitality. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to just promote the town in general,” Allan said.