Looking back on Alberta’s role in the Ghostbusters franchise
The Alberta film industry is heating up, and the Alberta Film Commission is gearing up for its “biggest year yet.” More and more locations featured in film are becoming recognizable to the average Albertan.
Nov. 8 saw the release of the first trailer for 2024’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, The sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021). The trailer teases the characters from Afterlife teaming up with the original Ghostbusters from the 80s.
If any of the physical settings in Ghostbusters: Afterlife looked eerily familiar, it might be because you’ve been to some of them. The film was shot in multiple locations across Alberta, including, but not limited to, Drumheller, Calgary, and Fort MacLeod. The likes of Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, and Paul Rudd were chased through a Calgary Walmart and battled ghouls in the Turner Valley Gas Plant. To an Albertan, the locations are obvious — they weren’t trying to hide where they were filming. Put the movie on with your dad, and he’ll be pointing at the screen telling stories of when you drove through that town, shopped at that Walmart, and ate at that diner.
Afterlife is unique in that way. Numerous blockbusters have shot scenes in Wild Rose Country. Brokeback Mountain, Interstellar, and Inception are just a few on a long list of films filmed in Alberta. This isn’t necessarily something that every Albertan will pick up on upon their first watch, however. Afterlife doesn’t try to dress Alberta up as something it’s not, and the result is a film shot in some truly stunning country.
The filming of Afterlife captured the attention of the Alberta Ghostbusters, a fan society that raises money for charity through cosplay-based events. They are frequently seen at Calgary’s annual Comic Expo, fundraising money in support of Alberta’s children’s hospitals. As of 2021, the group consisted of 51 individuals from all across the province (but they’re always accepting new member applications.)
On top of hosting screenings of the film in a couple of the small towns it was shot in, the Alberta Ghostbusters also visited the set where they met the original Ghostbuster Dan Akroyd, and befriended crew members of the film. Just a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and many of the group’s charitable appearances were forcibly cancelled. However, the group wouldn’t let that stop them. Their desire to help people quickly overtook them, and they put their prop-making skills to the test by designing, manufacturing, and providing items to health-care workers. These items included scrub caps, ear-saving tabs, and face shields. Using the connections they made with the production crew a year prior, the group teamed up with prop-makers for Ghostbusters to take production to the next level.
Together, the group provided thousands of Alberta health-care workers with life-saving gear as they fought the pandemic. The Alberta Ghostbusters’ excitement for the film stood out to its producers, and because of that, they provided aid in a time of incredible need to the people they have been supporting since their inception.