Nation Valley News
CHESTERVILLE — McCloskey’s served up a dash of Hollywood here last week as the 22 Victoria Street venue hosted a movie shoot starring Canadian actor Gil Bellows of The Shawshank Redemption and Ally McBeal fame.
While filming the bulk of production in Ottawa, BIZ Productions staff stumbled across the iconic Chesterville hotel as the perfect place to shoot particular scenes for the upcoming ‘modern day western’ currently titled Two Deaths of Henry Baker.
A crew of about 60 busily transformed and captured the interior of the establishment for the various sets, July 9-12, often working late into the night. Cries of “Rolling!” could be heard on the street as filming got underway. As many as 25 actors appeared on camera over the four days, including a few local extras along with the writer of the story, Sebastian Pigott — the former Canadian Idol contestant better known these days for roles in Being Erica and Murdoch Mysteries. Also in the village for the project was Passchendaele actor Joe Dinicol.
Briefly spotted outside the hotel for one of a handful of outdoor scenes, Bellows told NVN that he found Chesterville to be a pleasant, quiet place with nice flowers — and contrasted it positively with the typical city set.
“We’re in our fourth day now, and it’s been amazing,” said director Felipe Mucci, echoing the sentiment while his crew prepared for a scene with Bellows in the alleyway between the hotel and the neighbouring Chesterville Heritage Centre.
Below, the crew prepares to shoot a scene with actor Gil Bellows between the McCloskey Hotel and neighbouring Chesterville Heritage Centre, overseen by director Felipe Mucci of Los Angeles.
“It’s incredible … It’s such a nice place, you know?” added the Brazil native and seven-year resident of Los Angeles. “We looked everywhere for a bar like this, and Dan is just the best,” Mucci noted, referring to McCloskey general manager Dan Riitano. “He’s been so helpful. He got a bunch of people to be in the film as well, and he’s been very accommodating.”
The director also lauded nearby Christ Church United as “amazing” for lending space to the production. The church served as the shoot’s “base camp” where the crew enjoyed meals and the actors had hair and makeup done.
Beyond the immediate vicinity of McCloskey’s, they also shot an outdoor walking scene in the area of the former Nestlé factory, and on Saturday — after leaving Chesterville proper — the crew busied themselves by staging a scene with a burning truck off Fawcett Rd. in the North Dundas countryside.
Two Deaths of Henry Baker will air “for sure” on TNT Latin America while North American distribution is “not yet” settled, said Mucci, who also serves as producer of a Netflix show — Vai Anitta — and has “directed quite a few things for Discovery Channel.”
Pigott’s original story is “set in a fictitious place — Grey County — in the U.S.,” the director said.
“It looked pretty cool, a graphic novel type of style,” said Riitano, a day or two after the crew wrapped their work in Chesterville during the wee hours of Friday night.
Originally from Toronto, Riitano has a number of coincidental connections with the actors and crew, but the production’s arrival in Chesterville seems to have come down to a “fluke discovery” by Mucci’s people in the end. The local longtime barkeep can’t pin down the happy development to the fact that assistant director Kevin Kennedy lives in Williamsburg and is associated with the Russell Association for the Performing Arts. Nor can Riitano attribute it to his friendship with Pigott’s brother, whose band has taken the stage at McCloskey’s previously. “Sebastian Pigott told me he never knew his brother had played here,” Riitano marvelled, adding the lucky turn is unconnected as well to his prior acquaintance with Dinicol in Hogtown.
“This is all to me symbolic of a bigger thing. I’m being honest,” said Rittano. “It all happened on pretty short notice.”
The production rented McCloskey’s at a price that was “worth his while,” he reported, adding, however, that the establishment wasn’t alone in enjoying the economic spinoffs of having the production in town.
Filming continues in Ottawa but is expected to conclude this week.