Fargo miniseries braves freezing Alberta winter filming on location in Calgary
A new miniseries based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 feature film Fargo braved the icy Canadian winter shooting on location in Calgary, Alberta. Although based in the same world as the Coens’ Oscar-winning crime drama, the miniseries tells a different story with new characters.
The series shares the film’s rural Minnesota setting but filmed on location in Calgary.
"What also needed to remain was the same frozen tundra of the Mid-West. If you look across the TV landscape, you really don't have that world or sensibility, so our quest was to capture that."
Manitoba was on the initial shortlist of filming locations, but connectivity was a challenge.
"Getting [to Manitoba] from New York City, London and Los Angeles was a challenge. There's not a lot of direct flights. And we were concerned that we'd turn into popsicles," Littlefield adds.
"Calgary could move with the speed of light because they understood the demands of doing TV. We felt that would be critical with the amount of time we had.
"Alberta promised us that Calgary would deliver, especially on the weather. We knew we could get a look, feel and sensibility that we wanted and we'd have the snow. It's been a wonderful experience working here and shooting here."
Most of the shoot took place on location but - in the absence of a purpose-built local studio - the production also leased 50,000 square feet of warehouse space where they built sets for additional shooting.
Out of 84 shoot days we had to shut down production only for one day due to extreme cold and wind chill of -44 Degrees Celsius.
Chad Oakes, Producer
“Most locations we chose we added or altered to ensure it fit into our Fargo world,” explains Producer Chad Oakes of production company Nomadic Pictures: “In addition, there were multiple locations per episode which had us travelling not only every day, but multiple unit moves each day.
“We were subject to the harsh Alberta winter weather for the entire shoot, which can be unpredictable and extreme at times. But the bleak winter weather was one of the main reasons for the execs, studio and network choosing Calgary, so we are thankful Mother Nature helped us deliver exactly what was hoped for.
“The advanced weather predictions were amazingly accurate so we could plan for it. Out of 84 shoot days we had to shut down production only for one day due to extreme cold and wind chill of -44 Degrees Celsius.”
Calgary is a popular filming spot. The province offers financial support through the Alberta Media Fund and Calgary routinely doubles for US locations. Western TV drama Hell on Wheels is currently filming its fourth season doubling the region for the American Mid-West and period miniseries Klondike filmed at the CL Western Studio & Backlot, turning the set into the remote north-western Canadian province of Yukon.
In the last few weeks the provincial government has announced plans for a purpose-built studio for Calgary. The facility will offer two sound stages when it opens in mid-2015 and could help boost Alberta’s production industry.
Fargo will be screened in the US on the FX Network from 15 April 2014 and in the UK on Channel 4.
(Photos: Chris Large/FX)
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