Show developers in talks with streaming giants to continue production.
Natallie Gamble knows the oil and gas industry–now the question becomes, can she make viewers believe it.
The Bonnyville native is the lead actress in the Alberta-based TV pilot Pipe Nation, where she plays a debt-ridden, single mom working on the pipeline.
The only catch for the 24-year-old is she’s never acted professionally before.
“I didn’t really apply for acting. I applied for technical advising and writing type of things, and maybe help develop it for the screen. I ended up applying and next thing you know, I got a message from my Raoul Bhatt [director] and it kind of seemed unbelievable at the time because it was just so huge.
“He asked me if I wanted to be a lead actress in the show and I said, hell yeah.”
The drama takes place in the fictional town of Hardwell, shot in Sundre, 100 kilometres southwest of Red Deer.
With four generations before her that worked in the oil business, Gamble is an integral part of Pipe Nation, said Bhatt.
“We couldn’t do the show without her. And she’s a key asset, just her colourful nature. Everything from her personality, to her intelligence, to her tattoos, to her swagger–she has it all and she’s a star and I saw it right away. And she’s definitely gonna take the show to a whole new level.”
The production has a distinctly Albertan flavour in light of current political issues.
The Edmonton born-and-raised director has been developing the project for the past year, inspired by the benefits the oil-and-gas industry has had in his life and spinoff to software business, he wants to tell a compelling story about the industry and the people in it.
“It’s based in our energy sector, but it’s about grit, hard work. It’s about incredible people in a thrilling adventure. And so it’s been such an incredible journey and we have so much warmth from all over Alberta and from the surrounding provinces. I’ve been getting thousands of calls all across the country,” he said.
“People want to see this show succeed.”
As shooting wraps up next week, talks are on with major streaming platforms to bring Pipe Nation onto the small screen.
“I’ve had so much interest. I’ve had the four big streaming giants reach out to me, and they’re all interested. They’re seeing all this buzz in the media. It’s one of the hottest things in film right now, across the country. And we’re doing it right here in Alberta.”
Since getting the role, Gamble has been preparing with acting lessons to pair with her real-life energy industry experience.
Not too bad for “just an oilfield heathen.”
“I feel really great about being in this position, to represent not only women and oil and gas, but to represent what we’re all about and our sacrifice and to show that to everybody because we do have doubters.
“The show is a story about a woman, about family, about a sacrifice that we all make to be in this industry. And it’s a huge subject to talk about and it’s very sensitive, but we’re not here to hurt people’s feelings. We’re just here to tell a story.”