The film "Let Him Go" hit number one at the box office in its opening weekend, once again drawing attention to Alberta's iconic scenery and world-class film crews.

Making this particularly special is knowing you're watching the work of some highly-talented Cochrane area residents.

Long-time are residents Steve and Leslie McMichael coordinated the stunts for the thriller that stars Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Lesley Manville.

Key grip John Adshead has called Cochrane home for 30 years, all the time working in the industry.

"Let Him Go" was directed by Thomas Bezucha and is based upon a novel by Larry Watson. It tells the story of a retired sheriff and his wife grieving over the death of their son who set out to find their only grandson. The thriller was shot in Calgary, Drumheller, High River, Fort Macleod, and Kananaskis Country.

When interviewed late last week, Steve McMichael and Adshead were both looking forward to seeing the finished product.

"We had zero problems on Let Him Go, and I mean absolutely zero problems. It was lovely," says McMichael.

Working with Costner had a major impact on McMichael.

"I am endeared to this man now. He actually gave me back my love for film because he was such a professional, and he's just a nice human being. I'm actually trying to develop a project right now with Kevin as the lead actor."

"There are rumours of Kevin being nominated for an academy award, which is going to be really cool. I cannot wait to see this film, just because of the pure enjoyment of working on it with such a delightful cast."

He says what a lot of people don't realize is Costner is quite athletic.

"If we had a break in-between setup, he would bring me to his trailer and he had this Waterworld stunt demo tape that shows him doing all his stuff. Whether people like the show or not is inconsequential. What he showed me and the pride he showed was how he did 90 per cent of his own stunts in that show."

Costner did most of his own stunts in this new film as well.

"I had a wonderful stunt double for him in Jordan Dodds and I think Jordan might have done two things on the entire show. Maybe some driving, a little bit of the fight stuff, but Kevin did most of the stuff himself."

He says the cinematography is spectacular for Alberta films, including Let Him Go. 

"There were some times when my wife and I were sitting on set and you're just sitting there in awe of what it is. A beautiful Chinook blows through, or something comes through and it's just the way the sky's lite, how the mountains look, and there you go. We absolutely love this place."

Shooting in so many locations for the film kept Adshead busy but says it was a calm and respectable set.

"Kevin was a true professional. He's been at it for a long time. He kept things cool. There was nothing hectic, there was no pushing, or trying to go thing too fast, or anything like that. We took our time and did things properly."

As a grip, he knew the script inside out and says it's impressive.

Like many, the spectacular view from the top of the hill convinced the McMichaels that Cochrane was the place for them.

McMichael speaks passionately about the community and how its family-oriented nature has made it the ideal place to raise their five children.

"In today's climate, as far as what film is, why not live where you want to live, and you can work where you want to work. That's one of the advantages of working in film, especially being able to live where you want to."

The couple has worked around the globe as stunt performers, fight choreographers, stunt coordinators, and second unit director. 

"After working all over the world, and I'm not going to downplay other crews that I've worked with, but when you work with an Alberta crew, it feels like home. You actually know everybody, you actually know their kids, you know their kids' names. So it's a smaller community but it's one of those blessings to be able actually to respect and like the people that you work with."

He says Alberta crews produce quality films and says there have been something like 52 Oscar nominations for films shot here, far outpacing B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.

John Adshead was working rock and roll shows and theatre when approached to work in the industry. He did construction on the film "Silence of the North" in 1978 and went into gripping shortly afterward. 

"It wasn't a dream or anything," he says. "It just kind of happened."

After stints in Vancouver, then Edmonton, Adshead came to Cochrane in 1990.

"Things were picking up in Calgary, so this is where I decided to set roots. We had two kids and raised them here. Now they're in the film industry, so I consider myself a failure," he jokes.

Both McMichael and Adshead say they are far more people in the film industry than most people realize.

"Cochrane's like a little haven for a bunch of film people," says McMichael. "We have some grips that live here, we have gaffers that live here, we have production designers that live here, as well as myself and my wife."

Brook Skretting, of Keep Alberta Rolling, says the productions have an accumulative economic impact on the province. 

Let Him Go is just one example.

"A feature film like that can create anywhere from 150 to 300 or more jobs for Albertans, and these are jobs of all different skills.

He says when stars like Costner and Lane work in the province it gives the province and its film industry valuable exposure.

"We're really excited about having these two big stars shooting this film in the province and for everybody to get to see the province on screen and the byproduct of some hard-working crews. Everybody knows we have world-class film crews in the province."

"As we see the growth of streaming and companies like Netflix and Apple needing more content and need more places to make content, we'll be able to employ people from underperforming sections and hopefully that will be a key part of the recovery of Alberta." 

"Let Him Go' is playing at the Cochrane Movie House. The film is 114 minutes and rated 14A.