Anyone who has ever visited or lived in Didsbury knows the town is a gem on Highway 2A between Carstairs and Olds.
Now, the rest of the world is getting a chance to see that as well. Didsbury has been honoured with its inclusion in a nomination for an international award. The award is for Outstanding Locations in a TV Serial Program, Anthology, or Limited Series for the TV show Under the Banner of Heaven, now streaming on Disney+,.
The show, which stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington and Rory Culkin, shot many scenes in various locations throughout Didsbury. The series is based on the bestselling novel by Jon Krakauer which tells the story of events that led to the murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her 15-month-old baby daughter in 1984, followed by the 12-day search for the killers. The story takes place in Utah.
The award nomination comes from the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI). In an email to Didsbury Town Council, Location Manager, Matt Palmer, said, “Under the Banner of Heaven has been nominated for an LMGI award. I am incredibly grateful to you and everyone in Didsbury! We could not have done it without the amazing support from everyone in Didsbury!”
Palmer and his team of location managers and scouts were given the responsibility of searching Calgary and the surrounding area for the more than 100 unique locations the series required. Entire neighborhoods needed to double for Utah, circa the 1980s. The location scouts found those places in Didsbury, in particular, the old fire station which was set to be torn down.
Matt Palmer asked a town employee if he could see inside the fire hall. Ten minutes later he stepped inside and loved what he saw
The police station was another critical location that recurs throughout the series. Other locations in Didsbury ended up doubling for key locations in Under the Banner of Heaven, including a parade sequence that included floats, marching bands and hundreds of background extras in period dress, passing more than a dozen businesses and totaling about four square blocks. A number of car chase sequences were also filmed in the town and a Didsbury house was used as a character's home.
Anna Culp, the Producer of Under the Banner of Heaven heaped praise on both the town and people of Didsbury," “The town was incredibly accommodating and the townspeople were amazing. Just lovely.”
The series used Didsbury as a backdrop between August and December 2021. The town estimates the injection into the Didsbury economy was around $600,000 as production crews and the actors shopped and ate locally while filming was underway which benefitted many Didsbury businesses. Local residents also had their 15 minutes of fame and pocketed some extra cash through their work as extras. Homeowners whose residences were used as locations were also compensated.
Didsbury will find out if they are among the award winners when they're presented on August 27th.