‘The Last of Us’: All the Alberta locations that got a dramatic makeover | Globalnews.ca
And while Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey’s characters, Joel and Ellie, steal the spotlight in each episode while trying to evade deadly fungus-ridden creatures, cannibals and rogue gangs, there’s been a lot of attention given to the stunning Alberta backdrops, which fill in as post-apocalyptic U.S. cities and states.
The show was shot exclusively in Alberta starting in 2021 and used an astonishing 180 locations around the province, from Grande Prairie all the way down to Waterton Lakes National Park.
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The show is a thrill ride on its own — the storyline closely follows the video game on which it was based — but for Albertans it’s been extra exciting to spot some of the province’s most recognizable streetscapes, buildings, mountains and parks.
Sure, there’s been plenty of CGI and special effects to mask many of the Alberta landmarks, but in many instances the locations are very clear.
Episode by episode, here are some of the Alberta locations and landmarks that stood in for Boston, Kansas City, Austin, Texas, Jackson, Wyo., and more.
** NOTE: Mild spoilers ahead for the entire first season of The Last of Us. **
Episode 1: When You’re Lost in the Darkness
The series premiere of The Last of Us sets the stage for a post-apocalyptic adventure, introducing viewers to characters Joel (Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv), who are tasked with the dangerous mission of maneuvering teenage Ellie (Ramsey) across a ravaged U.S. in the hopes of finding a cure for the fungus outbreak that has the ability to take hold in humans, turning them into creatures intent on infecting others.
When You’re Lost in the Darkness uses Calgary’s downtown as a stand-in for Boston, and a specially designed set situated in the industrial area behind the Calgary Stampede grounds serves at the show’s Boston Quarantine Zone (QZ.)
Viewers also catch glimpses of Calgary’s historic Inglewood neighbourhood, interior shots of a couple Calgary high schools, as well as shots of the Bow River as it runs through the city’s Beaver Dam Flats.
Meanwhile, the historic Southern Alberta town of Fort McLeod doubles as downtown Austin, Texas, in the early days of the outbreak.
Episode 2: Infected
The cold-open for the show’s second episode sets a chilling scene for just how bad this outbreak is going to be. In it, viewers see professor Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim) suggest just one word on how Jakarta should respond to the outbreak of the cordyceps fungus in humans: “Bomb.”
The scene was filmed in a staff lounge in the Senator Burns building at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).
Eagle-eyed students of the polytechnic will also notice the building’s main floor lounge in an ensuing scene, and that the basement of the building, with its distinct floor-to-ceiling blue tiles, serves as part of a Jakarta hospital.
As the show flashes forward to modern day, there’s plenty of other familiar landmarks to be spotted. Joel, Tess and Ellie are spotted hiking over the 4th Avenue flyover that leads into downtown Calgary, and enter a historic building in the city’s core that serves as the Boston Museum.
Perhaps no landmark in the episode is as recognizable as Alberta’s legislature building.
It serves as a very acceptable stand-in for the Massachusetts State House and one of the show’s most unforgettable scenes.
Scenes for this episode were also filmed on downtown Edmonton’s Rice Howard Way.
Episode 3: Long, Long Time
One of the more subdued episodes of the first season, Long, Long Time gives viewers an intimate look into a tender and heartbreaking love story that blossoms in the years following the cordyceps outbreak.
The episode largely takes place around the home of Bill (Nick Offerman), a solitary survivalist who’s doing just fine on his own, until another person stumbles into a trap on his compound. The pair bond over a love of music, wine and good food and grow old together as the episode progresses.
Bill’s bucolic hamlet was shot in the High River neighbourhood of Beachwood — an area not immune to its own real-life disaster.
The neighbourhood was abandoned in 2013 when the Highwood River breached its banks during the province’s devastating flood event.
The Alberta government bought out the homeowners after the floods and returned the area back to its natural state of floodway.
During the episode viewers see Bill, who had been hiding while his neighbours were trucked away by officials, visit the real-life Mezzapa Gas Plant east of High River to turn the utility back on.
He then travels to a Home Depot to stock up on supplies, which was actually shot inside a Lowes Home Improvement location in Calgary.
Strangely, a real Home Depot was located just a few blocks away from the Lowes store where the scene was shot; no word on why the show chose the Lowes.
Episode 4: Please Hold My Hand
The opening scenes of the show’s fourth episode feature lots of scenic shots near Strathmore, including a scene where, thanks to CGI, a train can be seen dangling from a broken High Level Bridge/Viaduct near Lethbridge.
Ellie and Joel are on their way to Kansas City, but as they approach the city limits they’re stopped by a blocked freeway tunnel, which was designed around Calgary’s Airport Tunnel in the city’s northeast.
The action picks up as they manoeuvre around the tunnel and are funnelled into Kansas City, with several alleys in Calgary’s downtown core serving as a backdrop for a particularly vicious and vendetta-fuelled gang of freedom fighters.
As our protagonists fight to evade both menacing humans and the infected, their bond grows deeper.
They’re seen passing by Calgary’s Globe Cinema, whose sign was kept in the show, as they head to an office tower to hide out for a while.
Episode 5: Endure and Survive
In the fifth episode, viewers meet another pair of supporting characters — two brothers, Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard), who are also attempting to make their way out of Kansas City. The brothers pitch an escape route to Joel and Ellie in exchange for protection.
Much of the episode takes place in underground tunnels, which were provided by real-life tunnels in Calgary’s brewery district.
The Calgary Courts Centre, the largest court building in Canada, also makes an appearance, playing a U.S. Post Office building as well as a backdrop for a resistance group’s uprising against federal officials.
The episode culminates in a massive battle, and the sets were built from scratch outside the Calgary Film Centre.
The massive film studio is equipped with everything needed to make on-screen magic, making it the perfect place to watch the show’s healthy and infected battle it out.
The final, and most heartbreaking, shot was filmed at the Ranchland Inn in Nanton, located about 45 minutes south of Calgary.
Episode 6: Kin
In the sixth episode, viewers catch up with Joel and Ellie three months into their journey and learn they’ve made it safely to Wyoming.
But despite being safe, it’s the dead of winter and they’re hopelessly lost.
They come across a pair of two odd homesteaders who point them in the direction they need to go, but are warned not to cross the “River of Death.”
The bridge that crosses said river is the picturesque Canmore Engine Bridge, a familiar sight to anyone who’s visited the mountain town, which is located about an hour from Calgary at the mouth of the Canadian Rockies.
Joel’s on a mission to find his brother, Tommy, and the search leads them to the walled-in city of Jackson, Wyo., played by a shabby-looking Main Street in Canmore.
While in Jackson, Joel and Tommy reunite and catch up over a drink at an Old West-style bar which was recreated, somewhat ironically, at the Wainwright Hotel at Calgary’s Heritage Park, which is its own old-timey replica town.
Viewers also see Ellie and Joel share a meal at the Willow Lane Barn in Olds, which usually serves as a special events venue, popular for weddings and fundraisers.
As their journey continues, Joel and Ellie make their way to a compound that’s new to them, but a familiar shooting location for the show.
This time, SAIT doubles as the fictional University of Eastern Colorado, with the stately sandstone Heritage Hall dressed down with ominous-looking debris.
Episode 7: Left Behind
Left Behind opens with both Ellie and Joel in a dire situation and a flashback brings us back to the Boston QZ and a time earlier in Ellie’s life.
But it’s a mall in northwest Calgary that steals the spotlight in Episode 7.
Calgary’s Northland Village Mall has been closed since December 2021 as it undergoes a redevelopment into an open-air shopping centre, giving set designers a clean slate to recreate a dilapidated mall that would not have been used since the onset of the outbreak in the early 2000s.
The designers had to rebuild much of the gutted mall, including all the storefronts.
They also brought back a retired merry-go-round from another mall, which had been moved to Calgary’s horse jumping tournament facility, Spruce Meadows.
Episode 8: When We Are in Need
In the penultimate episode, viewers are taken about as far south as one can go in Alberta, to the gorgeous backdrop of Waterton Lakes National Park.
However, what happens in the park, which serves as the town of Silver Lake, Colo., is downright creepy.
The episode was filmed in the winter, when most of Waterton is boarded up for the season, making it the perfect setting for the disturbing and twisted events that go down.
Episode 9: Look for the Light
In the final episode of the season, without giving away too much, Ellie and Joel arrive in Salt Lake City and soon after arriving, Ellie finds herself regaining consciousness in an abandoned hospital, which was filmed at the Queen Elizabeth II Ambulatory Care Centre (the city’s former hospital that was replaced with a new facility two years ago) in Grande Prairie.
The final battle of the season ensues, and as Ellie and Joel escape and begin making their way back to Wyoming, their car breaks down, overlooking Barrier Lake in Kananaskis.
There’s also an episode-stealing scene where Ellie has a joyful encounter with an animal she’s never seen before.
The logistics of the shoot took place on-site at the Calgary Zoo, with the help of plenty of special effects, and feature one of the zoo’s most beloved (and tallest) animals.
There is definitely no shortage of places to visit in Alberta if you’re a TLOU fan.
Season 1 of The Last of Us is streaming in its entirety on Crave.
Fans petition for Pedro Pascal to be 2023 Calgary Stampede parade marshal | Globalnews.ca
A Change.org petition wants Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel in the TV show, to lead the charge.
The parade marshal is usually announced at the end of May or early June.
Pascal spent time in Calgary and across the province filming the hit Crave series, including the Alberta legislature, the Bow River, the Ranchland Inn in Nanton, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Canmore Engine Bridge and Waterton Lakes National Park.
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In fact, in episode 1, When You’re Lost in the Darkness, Calgary’s downtown is used as a stand-in for Boston, and a specially designed set situated in the industrial area behind the Calgary Stampede grounds serves at the show’s Boston Quarantine Zone (QZ.)
Pascal has also spoken about his love for Alberta, like exploring the mountains and seeing the northern lights.
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As of 8 a.m. Monday, March 20, the petition had about 4,700 names.
Actor Kevin Costner was parade marshal in 2022.
Calgary Heritage Buildings featured in HBO’s The Last of Us
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Bruce Willis’ wife shares tearful message about grief on actor’s 68th birthday – National | Globalnews.ca
In an emotional video posted to Instagram on Sunday, Heming Willis, 44, said she “started the morning by crying.”
“I think it’s important that you see all sides of this,” she told her followers, referring to the struggles of dealing with Willis’ frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
In February, Willis’ family shared an update that the actor’s aphasia has progressed into FTD, a condition that often strikes younger patients than other forms of dementia. Symptoms include difficulty with speech and movement and gradual memory loss.
Heming Willis said people always call her “strong” for supporting her husband.
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She continued: “But I’m also raising two kids in this, so sometimes in our lives we have to put our big girl panties on and get to it, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Willis and Heming Willis share two daughters, 10 and eight years old. Willis also has three other daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore.
Heming Willis said she experiences “times of sadness” and “grief” every day, but they were especially strong on Willis’ birthday.
She grew teary eyed as she spoke about editing another Instagram post that included several clips of Willis and his family over the years. Heming Willis called the videos “a knife in my heart.”
Alongside the video, also posted Sunday, Heming Willis wrote: “My birthday wish for Bruce is that you continue to keep him in your prayers and highest vibrations because his sensitive Pisces soul will feel it. Thank you so much for loving and caring for him too.”
Willis’ ex-wife Moore, 60, also shared a video, this one from Willis’ birthday party. In the video, Willis, who is missing a tooth, is seen blowing out his birthday candles atop a pie.
“Right at it!” Willis declared, stumbling slightly. Thrice his family chanted “Hip-hip-hooray!” before they embraced Willis.
Willis retired from acting in March 2022. At the time, his family said he was “experiencing some health issues … which are impacting his cognitive abilities.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, FTD is an umbrella term for a group of rare disorders that most often affect the parts of the brain associated with personality and behaviour. Approximately five to 10 per cent of all diagnosed dementia cases are FTD, but the condition accounts for about 20 per cent of all young onset dementia cases diagnosed in people under 65.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Alan Cross: How much longer will we be able to buy digital downloads of songs? – National | Globalnews.ca
Music piracy, kicked into high gear by the original Napster the previous June, was a threat to the recorded music industry. The new frontier for music was online and the labels were completely ill-equipped to deal with the greatest shift in music distribution in a century. They had to get in on the business of selling music digitally, but how?
Oh, the labels tried to build their own download stores, but Pressplay (originally called Duet and owned by Universal and Sony) and Musicnet (all the other majors) were miserable failures. First, they were expensive. For $15 a month, fans could stream 500 songs each month, get 50 song downloads and the ability to burn each of those songs to CD 10 times.
Third, the labels couldn’t work together on a unified platform because that would have violated all kinds of anti-trust rules, a legal situation that also help scupper the labels’ proposed purchase of Napster.
The labels had all the digital products but no way to distribute and sell them. Apple’s iTunes offered a way out of this bind.
Jobs convinced the labels that allowing him to sell individual songs for 99 cents each was the way to go. And because the labels had no idea what they were doing — and because Apple was committed to spending millions on marketing (not to mention they had this new gadget called an iPod) — the labels all signed on with the iTunes Music Store.
His pitch worked, and boom — the music industry changed forever.
There had been other attempts at creating digital music stores. Cductive was founded in 1996 and sold MP3 downloads for 99 cents (it was acquired by eMusic in 1999). Sony debuted Bitmusic in Japan in 1999, offering mostly singles from Japanese artists (it failed). Factory Records launched Music33, which offered downloads for 33 pence each (ditto). There was even a Canadian digital music store called Puretracks that lasted for about a nanosecond.
Nothing beat iTunes, especially when the labels agreed to remove all DRM locks in 2007. (I still have songs on my computer in the old .mp4a format that are locked up and can’t be freely transferred from one place to another.) It soon became de rigueur for all releases to be available through iTunes.
And because the iTunes Music Store was so easy to use on all computers (offering a Windows version was a huge deal), it became the favourite destination for buying digital albums and tracks. At one point, iTunes was responsible for 70 per cent of all digital music sales. Almost every would-be challenger was crushed. Hey, anyone remember hmvdigital.com?
But the whole shift from selling pieces of plastic to digital tracks left a bad taste in the mouths of the labels. They’d completely ceded distribution of their product to an outsider who charged a 30 per cent commission on each file sold. They vowed never to let that happen again.
Fast forward to today. Streaming, not downloads, is king and the labels have firm control over how streamers may do business. They made more than US$10 billion from streaming in 2022. They also continuously receive petabytes and petabytes of data on how music fans consume music.
And because streaming is so cheap — or even free — music piracy is a fraction of what it used to be.
As a result, sales of digital tracks and albums continue to plummet. In Canada, the sales of digital albums are down 15.9 per cent from this time last year and digital track sales have fallen by 7.5 per cent. Meanwhile, streaming is up 13.9 per cent from a year ago as Canadians reliably stream somewhere around 2.3 billion songs a week.
I can make the situation sound even more dire. In 2012, we bought 1.3 billion digital tracks. Last year, we bought 152 million. That’s a crash of 88.6 per cent in a decade. These numbers obviously aren’t good. Paid downloads are quickly becoming the next cassette.
Sales were once front-and-centre on the iTunes home page. Now you have to hunt a bit for the iTunes Music Store when you open the app. If you go to Amazon, a search for MP3s takes you to a page that pushes streaming and physical product. Neither company breaks out how much digital music they sell in their financial reports.
So here’s the question: How long will Apple support iTunes? Heck, how much longer do all digital tracks/albums sales have? Let me issue a plea that this never happens.
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I desperately need iTunes to continue because of my work. I need to gain full and legal access to songs to produce my radio show, The Ongoing History of New Music, so I buy up to a dozen songs a week. My Mac tells me I have 79,655 items taking up 564.65 gigabytes in my library. A non-insignificant number of those songs are iTunes downloads.
There are many uses for downloads. DJs need files they can mix as part of their sets. Older music fans brought up on a diet of purchasing CDs and vinyl also like iTunes because it offers permanent ownership instead of renting music from streamers. Insiders know that if downloads for an artist increase, it may show that the artist has crossed over to an older demo.
Artists can also see decent revenue from iTunes, especially after they’re in the news for something. Paid downloads spike up and they pay out far, far more than streams. Artists, labels and managers also monitor iTunes for songs that may pop on iTunes’ charts, a possible indication that something interesting is happening.
What are the options if iTunes goes away as Google Play Music did? Well, there are other digital music storefronts. There’s the aforementioned eMusic, which came online selling DRM-free MP3s in January 1998, three years before iTunes debuted. It has contracts with the major labels and dozens of indies. Unlike iTunes and Amazon Music, it’s a download-to-own site that requires the purchase of a monthly membership. Its library isn’t as deep as iTunes (15 million songs vs at least 60 million) but it can do the job for some people.
The most interesting digital music storefronts are those selling hi-res lossless files for people who demand the highest in audio quality. For example, 7 Digital will sell you all kinds of digital music, including plenty of 24-bit FLAC files. That’s fantastic — if you have the necessary hardware.
The same goes for Pro Studio Masters (I used it quite a bit for buying FLAC files). If that’s your jam, be sure to check out HDTracks and France’s Qobuz. which will debut in Canada later this year.
DJs and dance music fans have long known about Beatport. If you’re into the indie side of things, you’ve probably purchased a download or two from Bandcamp. And then there’s Bleep, which focuses on independent artists and labels.
Still, though, it’s hard to beat iTunes for selection and functionality. I really, really hope Apple doesn’t do something stupid like kill it. But with each week’s music industry sales numbers, you have to wonder how far things can drop before it’s time to move on.
If that day comes, it will be very, very sad.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing History of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play
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