Local artists get a Hollywood nod as Merritt mural hits the big screen - InfoNews

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Local artists get a Hollywood nod as Merritt mural hits the big screen

Still shot from movie trailer for Tomato Red. The mural in the background was painted by Vernon artist Michelle Loughery and local Merritt youth in 2005.
Image Credit: YouTube/Element Pictures Distribution
January 25, 2017 - 9:00 PM

MERRITT - There’s a local connection to a new movie that premieres next month in Ireland.

Tomato Red, a drama by Oscar nominated Irish director Juanita Wilson, was filmed in Kamloops, Ashcroft, Kelowna and Merritt — but the connection goes deeper.

A mural painted by Merritt youth and led by Vernon artist Michelle Loughery is featured as a backdrop in the film, and appears prominently in the trailer.

Loughery says she was approached by the production crew almost two years ago for permission to show the mural in the film. The director had fallen in love with it while scouting the area.

“They’ve been very respectful about using it,” Loughery says.

The mural is of country singer Tim McGraw and was painted in 2005 as part of a youth skills program funded by the federal government.

Credit: YouTube/ Element Pictures Distribution

“My crew in Merritt worked so hard, it’s a dream for them,” Loughery says of the international recognition. “When I told them they were like ‘wow, we did that. I was part of that.’”

The film crew even invited Loughery and those who worked on the mural to the set in July 2015.

“All the kids came and met the crew and the director,” Loughery says.

Christy Whittacker was part of the mural project and was proud to bring her kids to watch the scene being filmed.

“Being part of that and seeing where it’s gone, it’s great. I get to tell my kids ‘your daddy worked on that mural, and it will be in a movie,’” Whittacker says. “I can’t wait until it comes out.”

The movie is set to premiere at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival in February, and will be released in North America later this year.

“I can’t wait to see it on the big screen, because the mural in real life is actually bigger than the big screen,” Loughery says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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