Residents of Cochrane and surrounding areas will be watching for recognizable backdrops in another big Hollywood show, as My Life With the Walter Boys debuts tonight on Netflix.
Cochrane, Airdrie, Crossfield, Kananaskis Country, Bragg Creek, and a nearby ranch stand in for Colorado in the heartwarming coming of age story that follows 15-year-old Manhattanite Jackie Howard after losing her family in a tragic accident.
Filming in Cochrane took place in 2022 at locations including Glenhill Drive, the Texas Gate Grill, William Camden Park and the Fence and Post restaurant.
The CL Ranch off Jumping Pound Road served as the Walter family’s Colorado home.
All three of the central actors – Nikki Rodriguez, Noah Lalonde and Ashby Gentry – fell in love with the Alberta locations surrounding Calgary.
In an interview with The Eagle at the official red carpet launch in Calgary Wednesday, Rodriguez said she wished she could live at the ranch.
Gentry fell in love with horses, thanks to real-life cowboy and wrangler John Scott, who became his mentor, and even took him to a real rodeo.
“He explained every single event to me,” Gentry said.
He took riding lessons from Scott, who is famous for teaching Brad Pitt how to ride.
Gentry even gave a shout out to his movie horse Murphy (Copper in real life) for being gentle with him.
“He had a personality bigger than I have on-screen or off, and I’m really grateful to him for keeping me safe and not throwing me off,” he said.
Lalonde’s favorite location was Kananaskis Country, for it’s peacefulness.
And Gentry added one more less scenic favourite Alberta location, like a true teenager.
“Shout out to The Donut Man in Crossfield,” he said.
“Yes, we love it there,” Rodriguez piped in.
Promotional material for the series provides a synopsis of the storyline: “Jackie leaves behind her proper life in New York and moves to rural Colorado to be with her guardian – her mother’s best friend, Katherine, who is raising ten kids with her husband, George. While settling into her new, chaotic countryside home, Jackie is determined to stay focused on her dream of getting into Princeton…all while wrapping her head around her feelings for two very different Walter brothers: the reliable and bookish Alex, and the mysterious and troubled Cole.”
In her pre-production pitch to Netflix, showrunner Melanie Halsall described the ten-episode series as ‘Dawson’s Creek meets Friday Night Lights.’
One of Halsall’s goals was to produce a show that a 45-year-old dad could enjoy with his 15-year-old daughter without getting embarrassed.
If the first two episodes (sent to The Eagle by Netflix for pre-debut viewing) are any indication, it looks like Halsall has achieved her goal.
My Life With the Walter Boys is based on the novel of the same name by Ali Novak.
As Jackie tries to navigate her new life, the feelings and tensions she tries to deny threaten to throw everything off course. Will she be able to stay true to herself and still find romance?
Tune in starting tonight to see – and watch for recognizable background scenes.
Jason Priestley, who many viewers are familiar with from his role as Brandon on Beverly Hills 90210, directs the last two episodes.
Other sharp-eyed viewers might recognize George Walter, the father of the 10 kids, played by Marc Blucas, who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s love interest Riley Finn.
Natalie Germann, the Town of Cochrane's community event administrator, liaisons with the film industry.
“We’ve worked hard to build relationships with local film scouts. That means we’re available to answer questions about the area, assist them in finding spaces and businesses when needed and just stay in touch with them regularly (even when they’re not filming in town),” she said in an email.
“We’ve earned a ‘Film Friendly’ reputation and the word has spread.”
In 2022, Cochrane had four film crews in town and in 2023, two. The writers’ strike put a damper on this season.
The Town is speaking with nearby municipalities to create a cohesive policy that will help cross-promotion.
In a presentation to Rocky View County in 2020, Luke Azevedo from Calgary Economic Development said the financial contributions to southern Alberta are considerable.
Crews are not just spending money while they are shooting, but they come to town for advance work, which also Aadds to business coffers.
He added the area employs about 5,600 people and can generate up to a billion dollars over five to seven years. He spoke about the province’s diverse locations.
“We are very unique globally. We can be Afghanistan, we can be Mexico City, we can be Denver, we can be Calgary, we can be Rocky View County,” he said.
He spoke of showcasing areas like Rocky View to the world during COVID-19. There are also lower overall production costs and no provincial sales tax.
Several feature film projects have been filmed in Alberta, for example, The Last of Us, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Revenant, Inception, Interstellar, and Legends of the Fall.
According to Calgary Economic Development for the Ghostbusters film in terms of accommodations Alberta hotel vendors received $2,170,294.75 in revenue over 4.5 months. Three weeks spent in the Fort MacLeod/Drumheller area for hotels generated $569,056.
Netflix has committed to the first 10 episodes of 50 minutes each, for My Life With the Walter Boys, from production companies Komixx Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television.