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Regina is home to North America's second largest LED Wall. Here's how it works

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Representatives of government and Creative Saskatchewan provided a tour of Regina’s new virtual production stage – touting it as another sign that film and television have returned to the province.

The Volume Wall – a 28 foot by 85 foot installation made entirely out of LED lights – can be used to project any backdrop a filmmaker would ever need.

The $12.5 million marvel of technology operates out of the John Hopkins Regina Soundstage and is hosting its first entirely virtual production.

The film “Hostile Takeover” is set to fully utilize the technological behemoth. The film stars the likes of Michael Jai White, best known for Black Dynamite and The Dark Knight, Saskatoon-raised Aimee Stolte (Escape the Night, Megladon) with stunt direction from Markos Rounthwaite (The Bourne Ultimatum, Zombieland: Double Tap, Casino Royale).

The action/comedy is set in New York City. The wall is allowing filmmakers to cut costs and be more efficient.

“There’s a lot of places that you can’t actually access or get permits to use or to be able to manipulate to suit the film you’re making,” Karma Film CEO Anand Ramayya told reporters on Tuesday.

“Trying to clear a street in New York might be a challenging thing. Getting a spot on this location, again, near impossible. So it gives you a lot of freedom, as well as cost savings and efficiency.”

Creative Saskatchewan CEO Erin Dean told CTV Morning Live Saskatchewan on Monday that the digital canvas has unlocked untold possibilities for Saskatchewan.

“It's very impressive, it's incredibly innovative technology [and] to see it in person is really spectacular,” she explained. “That'll be a very different kind of show and Saskatchewan will be able to be anywhere in the world, on any day of the year.”

Saskatchewan’s newly expanded film grant system invested 3.3 million into “Hostile Takeover.” The provincial government estimates economic spinoffs to generate approximately $14 million.

Since revamping the province’s film and TV incentives program in 2022 – Saskatchewan has experienced a surge of activity not seen since the cut of the film tax credit in 2012.

However a decade of inactivity has taken its toll on the sector – which has led to massive efforts in the realm of training and rebuilding.

“It's a labor driven industry,” Dean said. “So it's about developing crew and the capacity to host these shows. So we have partners at the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association, SMPIA – so if anyone's looking to kind of break into the industry and get their start, that's a great place to start because they do help to develop the crew.”

Speaking with CTV News in 2023, SMPIA Executive Director Ken Alexce explained the importance of building the behind the scenes staff that are absolutely vital to any production.

“Now we have an industry that's approaching $200 billion a year globally. Over 10 billion a year in Canada and Saskatchewan gets a piece of that action. However, in order to really get it going – you need crew,” he said.

“We need to bring them all back and we need to train them up. And we need a lot more new recruits, new trainees to help this industry get going and we've been doing that.”

On top of a slate of workshops, providing training on anything from the role of production assistants to electric grips, a steady flow of students are entering the work force from institutions such as the University of Regina’s film program, the Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon and Sask. Polytech.

“I was here when the industry got going 20 years ago. So it's refreshing to see it going again and I know what the potential is.”

While the success story of Alberta, which has hosted massive productions such as the first season of the HBO hit "The Last of Us," cannot be entirely matched in Saskatchewan – Alexce believes that Saskatchewan will certainly seize its share.

“Interestingly, when Alberta just got going about five years ago, they are at the same level we are now,” he explained. “They had about $12 million in a grant program and that got them going. And this is what's getting us going.”

With the “generous industry” of film and television promising economic spinoffs in sectors such as catering, transportation and construction – Alexce said its no wonder that public opinion is behind the return film and television to Saskatchewan.

“We’ve done a global survey through Insightrix for the past three years. Very consistently there has been well over 80 per cent of the entire population surveyed in Saskatchewan who support this industry and mostly they're going ‘well, why not?’” he explained.

“They see what happens in other provinces. They see all the trucks, they see all the jobs, and it's not just in Regina and Saskatoon it's wherever they film.”

--With files from Gareth Dillistone.

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