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The Last of Us: Albertans Tell Production Experiences

by Lethbridge College

Albertans share their experience working on Canada’s largest production ever, The Last of Us.

The television adaptation of The Last of Us, an iconic post-apocalyptic video game created in 2014, has provided those working in the production industry here in Canada with an opportunity to be a part of something special. The show was shot right here in Alberta and provided jobs to many Canadians like Christina Riches.

Riches is an alumni of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and was a stand-in for the main actor Bella Ramsey during her time on the performance. While she initially didn’t apply for the role due to her height not meeting specific requirements, Riches was surprised to find out the casting director brought her back for a follow up interview. She accepted the invitation and was asked to stay because she fits all the other requirements for the role. “ I was super excited to work on the project because I knew it was huge and I wanted to be a part of it so that was really exciting,” said Riches.

Since the show was shot in her home province of Alberta, Riches was able to explore many new locations within it. Additionally, Riches got a firsthand look into how much passion and detail went into the production. This show has sharpened her skills when it comes to acting as well. She admits she has been able to memorize scenes quicker so she can be better prepared for speaking role auditions in the future.

The show has provided opportunities to those involved behind the camera like Derek Heidt, Co-Owner of Revered Cinema, which specializes in providing camera systems like U-cranes and unique camera-mounted vehicles. Before taking on the project, Heidt and most of his staff were unaware of the game and its origins. In fact, all that was known about the source material was how well publicized it was and that it was going to be the biggest budgeted television show in Canadian history with over $100 million dollars being funneled into it. Revered cinema has worked on multiple projects from Game Over, Man! to newer titles like Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts over the years which has had them traveling quite a bit.

“We bounce between a lot of shows and movies around the world,” Heidt said. “It was good to be based on a job back in the hometown so we were excited about that for sure.” Heidt and his team shot all around Alberta in well-known locations like the Calgary Stampede Grounds, the parliament building in Edmonton, the massive Lethbridge Viaduct bridge and small local towns like Fort Macleod.

Canadians like Riches and Heidt are two of many who played their part in helping create not only a high-quality show but a remarkable moment in Canadian production history. With a second season being greenlit by HBO, Canadians can anticipate creating more magic both in front of the camera and behind it in the province of Alberta.  

Written by Liam McQuay, Lethbridge College

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