Lights, camera, action in the Ottawa Valley! Latest film wraps up in Arnprior and Pembroke
ARNPRIOR, ONT. -- From the Hollywood hills to the Ottawa Valley, big-time directors are travelling to rural communities west of the capital, meaning the next movie you watch could have been shot right in your backyard.
Originally from Ottawa but now living in Los Angeles, director Brian Lutes has been back in the valley this summer shooting his latest film, Painted Sharks, a story set in the late 1970s about a woman and her child seeking refuge from a troubled and abusive relationship.
"There's definitely a distinct flavour up here, it just has that old school charm," Lutes tells CTV News Ottawa. "We shot most of our interior scenes in Arnprior and most of the exterior, the neighbourhood scenes in Pembroke."
Saturday is the last day of filming for Painted Sharks, and Lutes is wrapping up his final scenes at a decommissioned hospital in Smiths Falls. He says after working in the United States for so long, the hospitality is one of the many reasons, aside from the value of the dollar, that filmmakers chose to shoot in Canada.
"Canadians are a lot easier going than Americans. When I'm shooting something stateside, you've got people stepping out their door with shotguns flipping the bird at the camera," admits Lutes. "But in Canada, we call for extras and you've got 200, maybe 500 people with their hands up."
One of those people is Pembroke resident Anna Mary Burke Grattan. She got a knock on the front door of her Victorian home in April, where a location scout asked if she would like to be a part of the movie.
"She asked if I thought we would be interested in being involved in a movie because we have century old houses with porches and it's a very old neighbourhood with mature trees," says Grattan, who has been helping with the movie as a production assistant since.
"And I just love being involved in the whole shoot," continues Grattan, "I actually had a cameo in the movie as well as my husband and some neighbours, so it's been really, really good."
Within the last year, the valley has also been home to two Mel Gibson movie shoots, called Fatman and Bandit. Many Hallmark and Christmas movies were also filmed on the downtown streets of Arnprior.
"You have the beautiful streetscape, but also the historic buildings that make for a great, quaint downtown setting for a lot of the Hallmark typical type of movies," says Lindsay Wilson, Arnprior's marketing and economical development officer. "I think the residents really like seeing the end results, and it's neat to watch movies and see places you are familiar with."
"When you're in the big city like Ottawa or Toronto, everything is new and shiny," says Lutes, who likes to film his movies in historical settings. "But to get that Norman Rockwell painting, you're going to find that still in Arnprior and Pembroke and Petawawa."
Lutes hopes to have Painted Sharks finished by spring, with the goal of having Netflix pick up the production.