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Fort McMurray production company hopes Spider-Man fan film will encourage growth in local film scene

By  Jenna Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

FORT MCMURRAY – M’Guphynn Media, a Fort McMurray-based production company, says their latest Marvel Fan Film shows how much the film industry is growing at all levels locally and across Alberta.

The fan film is called Miles Behind and follows Miles Morales, one of the many different versions of Spider-Man inside the spider-verse. Morales rescues Peter (not Parker) from a mugging. But the situation quickly gets out of control and Morales has to peacefully deescalate a tense situation before it gets violent.

The production team is entirely from Fort McMurray but was shot in Calgary to simulate New York. Matt Salem, marketing director for M’Guphynn Media, said the local film scene is a small but vibrant one that is growing. There are also more people working on their own projects and plans for larger ones to be filmed in the region.

“Alberta as a whole is becoming the next nexus for filmmaking in Canada,” said Salem. “Because as we know, a lot of people film in Vancouver. It’s been called Hollywood North. But within the last few years, there’s been a new tax credit in place for a lot of bigger film projects to come here.”

Salem said he is helping a production company scout shooting locations in the region for a large project coming to Fort McMurray. He could not give any details.

Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism (FMWBEDT) said in a previous interview that it hopes to begin attracting movie and TV productions to the region. The group has listed shooting locations in trade publications, such as the winter road, Athabasca sand dunes, the boreal forest, empty warehouses and the old airport terminal.

A film based on a Stephen King novel will be shot in Fort McMurray, but FMWBEDT could not offer more details. All the group could confirm is the production company is Indigenous-owned, stars a well-known actress who is American and Indigenous, and that it was going to be shot in the Northwest Territories.

In January 2020, the provincial government introduced the Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit. This program covers 22 per cent, or 30 per cent for Alberta-owned productions, of eligible spending for production and labour costs.

It was announced last August that the Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit had brought in nearly $1 billion to the province, generating roughly 9,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province since January 2020.

The high-budget HBO series Last of Us recently filmed in Fort MacLeod, which is also where scenes for Interstellar and Ghostbusters: Afterlife were shot. The HBO series is the largest production to be filmed in Canada.

HBO said the province’s enhanced film and television production incentive made it an especially attractive destination for the company.

Salem said the team has plans to produce more films in Fort McMurray as a way of championing the community.

“I really hope that this will help bring more people—not just within our community, but within Alberta in general—to film here and work in film,” he said.

Miles Behind can be viewed on the M’Guphynn Media YouTube channel.

By  Jenna Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Fort McMurray Today

-With files from Vincent McDermott