Colchester natives bringing their creativity home

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TRURO - Could the Hubtown soon become known as Tinseltown North?

Bible Hill native Andre Pettigrew and Truro's Leah Johnston are set to film a movie later this month at the John Stanfield Inn in Truro. The pair received funding to get started after being named one of four director/producer duos across Canada to receive funding through the National Screen Institute Drama Prize.

Truro may not be known as a movie-making hotbed, but that might change when Leah Johnston and Andre Pettigrew are finished shooting their short film, Some Things Won't Sleep, at the John Stanfield Inn later this month.

Johnston, a 27-year-old Truro native who recently came home from Los Angeles to make the movie, said she and Pettigrew, a 27-year-old who grew up in Bible Hill, are having a much easier time preparing to shoot in her hometown than she ever had in Hollywood.

"It was like pulling teeth to do my first film in L.A. and now I'm like, ‘Maybe I should stay here,'" said Johnston, who has given up her apartment in L.A. to work on this project. "It's a lot easier to get things done and people are so supportive. In L.A. it's more dog-eat-dog."

And, Johnston said, there aren't as many initiatives like the one she and Pettigrew are benefitting from to make movies. The pair were recently named as one of four director/producer duos across Canada to receive funding through the National Screen Institute Drama Prize to bring their movie to life. The grant gives the pair more than $20,000 in in-kind services and a further $10,000 cash to get the production off the ground. They were the only team outside Toronto to receive the funding, which is designed to help train emerging moviemakers.

"It's definitely great to receive the acknowledgement that they believe in the project and want to see it move along and believe in us as filmmakers," Pettigrew, now a Halifax resident who has worked on the crew of several television shows and movies, said.

The pair had to submit the script, along with a detailed report about their vision for the project, how they plan to work together as well as a budget and marketing plan.

The production, which is set to start filming Oct. 19, is Pettigrew's first foray into producing, while Johnston, who has acted and directed several projects, will be directing her first professional crew.

The movie is about a woman who, in the wake of discovering her husband is having an affair, takes drastic action to save her marriage and the perfect life she's built for herself. The movie features a twist at the end, which she came up with some time ago and formed the rest of the script and characters around that.

Not only did Truro offer the pair the perfect, friendly environment for making a movie, but it also served up the perfect location. The John Stanfield Inn, located behind the Holiday Inn, fits perfectly with the vision Johnston had for her project. It's also not currently being used and offers plenty of parking in front for the crew and equipment.

"There's not a lot of talking in the film. A lot happens but it's very visual," Johnston said. "So finding a location like this, that is so beautiful and stately, was very important to me for that vision."

The entire movie, which should take two days to shoot, will be filmed at the home, which was built in 1902 for the late John Stanfield and his wife Sarah. The rest will be shot in a wooded location, yet to be determined.

Johnston, whose first short film, Another Man, which she directed, wrote and produced, was recently shown at the Montreal World Film Festival and Atlantic Film Festival, and will screen again at the St. John's International Women's Film Festival on Oct. 23, hopes Some Things Won't Sleep follows in those footsteps.

"We're hoping it goes off and does wonderful things on the festival circuit," she said.

Director - Leah Johnston

Age: 27

From: Truro

Credentials: Performed in TV shows As the World Turns and Gossip Girl, directed/wrote/produced short film Another Man, directed American Dollhouse.

Producer - Andre Pettigrew

Age: 27

From: Bible Hill

Credentials: Worked on several productions in Halifax. Currently working on TV show Haven. Recently started own production company.

Fundraiser – Johnston and Pettigrew have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise additional funds for their project. To learn more or to make a donation, visit




Organizations: John Stanfield Inn, Holiday Inn, World Turns

Geographic location: L.A., Los Angeles, Bible Hill Hollywood Halifax Canada Toronto Montreal St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Carmen
    October 01, 2013 - 19:40

    Congratulations Andre for all those years of studying and working long days... A promising future is on the way. Best of luck! We believe in you. Carmen and family