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Pipe Nation production gets underway in Sundre

Pandemic protocols in place as crew begins shooting new independent series

SUNDRE — The pandemic was not enough to hamper production of a new, independently produced pilot episode of a made-in-Alberta show.

Filming of Pipe Nation, a fictional story about the challenges faced by energy sector workers and their families in a small oil and gas community, got underway this weekend.

Cast, crew and dozens of extras began the shoot on Sunday, Aug. 16 at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338.

MVT-Pipe Nation production 1Shooting a production during the age of COVID-19 has ushered in some new protocols. The cast and crew who were out for the first day of filming at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 on Sunday, Aug. 16 were required to have their temperatures checked, as well as wear masks and sanitize their hands upon entry. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

Between takes, everyone was wearing masks, while others among the crew also donned face shields. Before being allowed into the Elks hall just a few at a time, people first needed to sanitize their hands and had previously had their temperatures checked. The procedures are now part and parcel of shooting a production in the age of COVID-19.

“It did slow us down,” said Edmonton-based filmmaker Raoul Bhatt, the creative mind behind the project, during a phone interview on Monday morning.

MVT-Pipe Nation production 4Edmonton-based filmmaker Raoul Bhatt, left, the director of Pipe Nation, coordinates with a cameraman to frame a shot on Sunday, Aug. 16 at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 during the first day of production. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

“I could have got it done maybe about three hours sooner. But you know what, safety is number one. I don’t care if it takes me an extra three days, as long as everyone’s health is good, that’s what matters the most.”

Production is expected to wrap up by Monday, Aug. 24, with post-production expected to be complete before the end of the year.

Provided everything goes according to plan, Bhatt hopes to continue production on the first season's final episodes in the spring.

MVT-Pipe Nation production 3Edmonton-based filmmaker Raoul Bhatt, right, the creative mind behind Pipe Nation, provides some direction to Natallie Gamble, the lead actress playing the role of a character called Ashley, who is the boss of a pipeline crew trying to cope with the challenges of the struggling energy sector and providing for their families. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

Previously describing the series as a blend of sex, drugs and drama remiscient of hit series like Ozark, Sons of Anarchy, and Breaking Bad, Bhatt has stressed the story is more than anything else about “overcoming adversity. And it’s about camaraderie, friendship and family.”

Sundre was selected as the location to represent the story's fictitious town of Hardwell. Pipe Nation tells the story of a single mom, Ashley, played by lead actress Natallie Gamble, who is burdened by a mountain of debt, as she strives to make a living navigating the trenches in the male-dominated industry of oil and gas.

Bhatt expresssed pride in having kept the entire production based in Canada.

“Everything from the crew, to the actors, to the music, to the post-production, is crafted and created with homegrown talent from Alberta. We are capturing
the beauty of this province for the world to see," he said in a press release issued Monday.

 

MVT-Pipe Nation production 6Dozens of extras wait patiently for their cue at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 while wearing masks on Sunday, Aug. 16 during the first day of production for the new, independently produced pilot episode of Pipe Nation, a fictional show about the real struggles oil workers and their families face in a small town called Hardwell, which is portrayed by Sundre. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff
MVT-Pipe Nation production 2Shooting a production during the age of COVID-19 has ushered in some new protocols. All of the extras called out for the first day of filming at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 on Sunday, Aug. 16, as well as the rest of the cast and crew, were required to wear masks as well as sanitize their hands upon entry. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff


Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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