The Pineville Heist

June 2016

Carl Bailey is a Texas-based actor who flew to Thunder Bay for the premiere of The Pineville Heist, a labour of love for first-time feature film-maker and Confederation College professor, Lee Chambers. When asked what it was like to be back in Thunder Bay, Bailey laughed and said that the community had rolled out the “white carpet” for the movie’s premiere. Yes, Mother Nature had surprised us with a dump of snow for the April 6 premiere, but that didn’t keep people away from the event.

My first encounter with Bailey was in 2014 when I’d had dropped in while the filming was taking place in Thunder Bay.

Playing the role of Sheriff Tremblay, Bailey couldn’t shake my hand that day because it was covered in “blood”! And now nearly 2 years later, the film had been edited, polished and was ready for an audience.

In the lobby of the Silver City Theatre we congratulated our neighbour Leah Rantala. Leah had a part as the “pretty girl” interest of the 13-year old star of the movie, Presley Massara. Leah, now a 16-year old St. Patrick’s High School student was surrounded by friends and family who had accompanied her to an early screening. She looked every bit a young starlet.

Our neighbour Dave saw us chatting in the lobby and said we’d better get our seats because the theatre was quickly filling up. In fact, when we got in the theatre we were lucky to get two seats in the second row. We started talking to the couple who were sitting beside us. It turns out their son, Mika Polkki also had a part in the movie as a “bad guy.”

Before the movie started there was a buzz of anticipation. When Lee Chambers stood in front of the packed theatre and thanked all the community supporters who had believed in him and his dream of making a feature-length film, his words were heart-felt. He wanted us to sit back and hopefully enjoy this project that took him so many years to bring to the big screen.

And enjoy it we did. I clutched the bag of popcorn and was engrossed for the 80 minutes or so of gripping action. I was inspired by the actors who held my interest and the unseen work that went on behind the scenes. There were 35 cast and crew that worked on the film from around the world. I was transported back to my old high school, Fort William Collegiate Institute, where most of the interior shots of “Pineville High School” were filmed. As I watched the heist unfold, I couldn’t help thinking that FWCI, now more than 100 years old, with its intricate wood work, ornate railings, tiled mosaic floors and high-ceilinged classrooms, was also a star. The stories those walls could tell...they could be nearly as surprising and entertaining as the twists and turns in The Pineville Heist.

Nancy Angus is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Bayview. Contact her at

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