Brian Lutes returns to his Ottawa Valley roots to direct new film Pictures of Us

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Tashi Farmilo

Acclaimed writer, director, and actor Brian Lutes has embarked on a new venture in the Ottawa Valley and Pontiac as he directs his sixth major film, Pictures of Us. The project, currently in full swing, promises to be a gritty and authentic depiction of a teen love triangle set in the 1980s, inspired by real-life events.

Lutes, a familiar face in the region, chose to return to his roots for this project. When asked about his decision, he simply replied, “Why not?” Lutes has a deep appreciation for the area’s charm and historic buildings, and he’s quick to acknowledge the invaluable support he has received from the local community and businesses. Notably, classic car owners, like Dale Forbes of Pembroke, have eagerly contributed their vintage vehicles, enhancing the authenticity of this period film.

Brian Lutes, in collaboration with his cousin Ted Lutes of Ottawa, operates Lutes Cousins Films, and they’ve been working together for three years.

Anna Mary Burke Grattan, the producer of the film Pictures of Us, spoke about the decision to film scenes in the Ottawa Valley and Pontiac: “The scenery is beautiful. The locations are beautiful. The buildings have a charm. They haven’t been replaced by high rises. There’s still so much architecture to appreciate. And that’s why we like shooting in this area. You can shoot anywhere. But the scenery, the buildings, the people are awesome.”

In Pictures of Us, Lutes takes on the role of Stanley Dombrowski, a taxicab driver characterized by his strong opinions and explosive personality. Stanley’s tumultuous relationships with his family are central to the film’s plot, reflecting the consequences of his narrow-mindedness and violent tendencies.

Joining Lutes in this production is Jordon Oattes of Cobden, who plays the lead role of Jack Dombrowski, Stanley’s son. Evana Saikaly of Ottawa plays Nadima Kahn, a 16-year-old twin from a strict religious family navigating her way through a new city and school. Brandon Lovell, a university drama student in the UK, joined the cast as Vernon, after learning about the role through his grandmother’s Facebook posts.

Pictures of Us is being filmed across various locations in the Ottawa Valley, Ottawa, and the Pontiac. Some of the featured sites include the Desjardinsville wharf, Fellowes High, the former Commonwealth Plywood building, Opeongo High School, the Kinsmen Pool, the former Pepsi Plant in Petawawa, Lynda and Kirk Dobbs’ home in Pembroke, and the Galipeau Centre in Smith’s Falls.

Filming is expected to conclude in September, with the completed movie slated for release in the fall of 2024. Updates and behind-the-scenes glimpses of Pictures of Us can be found on Lutes Cousins Films’ social media page.