Ottawa Valley film ‘Painted Sharks’ premieres Thursday

A movie filmed entirely in the Ottawa Valley is set to premiere Thursday night at the Carling Avenue Cineplex theatre in Ottawa.

Ottawa born director Brian Lutes currently lives in Los Angeles, but travelled back to Canada in the summer of 2021 to film “Painted Sharks” in locations such as Ottawa, Arnprior, Renfrew, Douglas, Pembroke, and Eganville. The cast and crew are also almost entirely local from the Ottawa Valley.

“It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done and something I’m more proud of than anything else I’ve ever done,” Lutes tells CTV News ahead of the debut.

“So I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited.”

Notable locations local viewers may recognize will include The Douglas Tavern, Sandy’s Deli & Diner in Renfrew, BareFax Gentlemen’s Club in Ottawa, Fellowes High School in Pembroke, as well as local Pembroke neighbourhoods.

“We literally started by knocking on a door in Pembroke and saying we want to shoot a film, would you like to be involved,” recalls Lutes.

15-year-old Aliah Nizaha from Eganville starred in the film as a character named Ricki.

“She’s really impulsive I would say,” Nizaha says of her character. “She is a really strong character, really fun to play.”

Nizaha says acting in her first film in locations such as high schools where she played sports at was a surreal experience.

“I would never think of these towns that we were in as places to shoot an actual movie,” she says.

“I didn’t ever think that this would happen. Like, I’m in a movie, how crazy is that?”

Despite not having a Hollywood budget to work with, Lutes says Painted Sharks came together with through the generosity of the people whose communities they worked in.

Lutes says some residents handed over the keys to their houses for filming while gone at work, and others paid out of pocket to have satellite dishes taken down in order for the film to look historically accurate.

“It doesn’t take money to make a film,” says the L.A. director. “It takes heart and soul and it’s there in abundance in the Ottawa Valley.

“We wanted to create something that had the Netflix-Hollywood excitement and I feel that we did.”

A second showing of the film will take place Friday in Pembroke at Algonquin Cinemas.

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