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Christmas movie filmed entirely in Ottawa makes streaming debut

Ed Asner as Santa Claus in "Santa Stole Our Dog: A Merry Doggone Christmas!" (IMDB) Ed Asner as Santa Claus in "Santa Stole Our Dog: A Merry Doggone Christmas!" (IMDB)
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A Christmas movie filmed entirely in Ottawa is making its streaming debut this holiday season.

"Santa Stole Our Dog: A Merry Doggone Christmas!" stars the late Ed Asner as Santa Claus, who accidentally takes a family's dog, named Rusty, on Christmas Eve, prompting the family to travel to the North Pole to get their pooch back from the jolly old elf.

The film was first released in 2017, but is now streaming on Paramount Plus in the U.S. and on Prime Video in Canada. It was written and directed by Bryan Michael Stoller, who grew up in the nation's capital.

"It's always nice going home and we shot it at my mom's house where I grew up," Stoller told CTV News Ottawa. "My mom, I cast her as Mrs. Claus, opposite Ed Asner, so she got to do some scenes with an iconic, award-winning actor. That was kind of cool, having Ed Asner come to my family home and shoot those scenes."

Asner's career stretched back decades and included performances on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", Disney Pixar's "Up" and "Elf", in which Asner also played Santa Claus. He died in 2021.

"He comes off as kind of a curmudgeon, but he's a real sweetheart," Stoller said of Asner. "He really cares about people and he was really easy to work with. Just a wonderful, wonderful person."

Stoller's dog Little Bear plays the titular canine.

Stoller said he's always wanted to make a Christmas movie and filming in Ottawa made some aspects of the process easier.

"I didn't have to bring in snow or the cold or any of that," he said.

Stoller said neighbourhoods like Barrhaven and Whitehaven were used as locations, and many scenes were shot on Richmond Road.

"I just remember it was really, really cold," he said.

Setting up the decorations also led to some funny moments in his mother's neighbourhood.

"We shot in February, so it was after Christmas and I remember a lot of people were worried about my mother because we put up a Christmas tree in February and put all the Christmas lights out and her friends were concerned," he said. "When she answered the door dressed as Mrs. Claus, then they really got concerned, but then they saw Ed Asner and said, 'Oh, Bryan's home shooting a movie.'"

The film is not just a Christmas movie about love, family, and the holiday season; it also includes a message about coming together to confront global issues. As the adventure to get the family dog back unfolds, little Suzie strikes a pact with Santa to save the North Pole from the imminent threat of a climate change-induced catastrophe.

Ottawa has become a popular filming location for Christmas movies in particular. Nine Christmas movies filmed in Ottawa in 2022 and 2023 will premiere on CTV Life Channel, Hallmark, OWN and Lifetime over the holidays.

"I miss Ottawa," Stoller said. "I plan on coming back and doing more films there."

Stoller says Youtube subscription, Vudu and Apple also have the movie on their platforms

Correction

This article has been updated to reflect where the movie is available, including additional sources in Canada and the U.S.

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