Ottawa ready for its Hollywood North close-up as tight-knit film community thrives

A massive movie set under construction in an east-end Ottawa location as Penthouse North featuring Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan, is filmed.

illosIt’s quite likely that Ottawa will never be able to compete with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and their big-budget movie productions. But a feature film, shot this year in the nation’s capital and surrounding area, could put the city on Hollywood’s radar as a viable, alternative movie-making site.

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, is a horror film directed by Osgood Perkins, the eldest son of the late actor Anthony Perkins (Psycho), and features a stellar cast that includes Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss and Bob Balaban. Following its release on Netflix in late October, the movie earned rave reviews from critics, and Ottawa’s tight-knit film community hopes that buzz will give the city a boost to attract more high-profile productions.

Doug Hempstead/ Ottawa Sun

Much of the initiative to film movies in the capital has been locally driven, and has resulted over the past six years in such other recent horror-thriller fare as The Blackcoat’s Daughter (another Perkins film); The Monster featuring Canadian actor Scott Speedman; Penthouse North with Oscar nominee Michael Keaton; and House At The End of The Street, starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.

All those movies were shot in and around Ottawa, and augment a steady production schedule in a city better known for movie-of-the-week fare (with such campy titles as Killing Mommy and the yet-to-be-released Killer Mom) for Lifetime TV.

Ben Hrkach, a regular crew member on film sets in Ottawa, says the average number of movies being simultaneously shot in the city has increased from one to three in recent years, partly as word has spread that the Ottawa area offers directors many easily accessible urban and rural locations from which to choose.