Overhead shot of Old Orchard Beach from the film “Pretenders.” Photo courtesy of Pretenders, The Movie.

Since most movies and TV shows we watch are usually filmed in Hollywood or some place far away, it’s refreshing to watch a film made in your own backyard once in a while.

This month, besides getting a chance to watch the online premiere of the Portland-made crime thriller “Downeast,” Mainers can also see a new film called “Pretenders,” which takes advantage of shoreline vistas in and around Old Orchard Beach.

The film will be having its world premiere online through March 30, as part of the California-based Cinequest Film Festival. To buy tickets and for more information, go to cinequest.org.

The comedy focuses on three young people, a few years out of high school, who are fed up with expectations and decide to create fake identities and pretend to be other people. Issues of race and gender and sexual identities are themes in the film.

About 40 percent of the movie was shot in Maine, and the film’s writer and producer came up with idea while staying at a cottage in Camp Ellis in Saco, near Old Orchard. The crew filmed in Maine in the summer and early fall of 2019.

Adam Gale, an associate producer of the film, said he and writer and director Tristen Stafford had gone to Gale’s aunt’s cottage in Camp Ellis as sort of a writing retreat. They threw out ideas for possible films and the ideas for “Pretenders” stuck. The two filmmakers met attending Purchase College/State University of New York, and this is their first feature film.

Stafford, who lives in New York City, says the idea came partially from being around Camp Ellis and Old Orchard Beach, out-of-towners in a sea of tourists and vacationers. Gale lives in Connecticut but has vacationed in Maine for most of his life.

“It’s not specifically Old Orchard in the movie, it’s a getaway town, a place where nobody knows you,” Stafford said.


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