Drinkwater is as Canadian as you can get in a film, shot in and around Penticton within the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Awkward teen Mike Drinkwater (Daniel Doheny) has trouble fitting in and is bullied by his antagonist and rival: wealthy school jock, Luke Ryan. Mike’s offbeat father, Hank (Eric McCormack) spends more time defrauding the government than being a role model for his son. He’s also dealing with his own long standing condemnation by Luke’s father Wesley Ryan, which seems to fuel Luke’s hostility towards Mike. Enter Wallace, a young girl from the United States who is adjusting to life in a new place while recovering from her own personal tragedy. Wallace tries to help Mike fit in a little more at school and train for an annual cross-country race competition, while Mike shows her the ropes of living in small-town Canada.

See below for our SNAPSHOT REVIEW and INTERVIEW with Daniel Doheny.

The movie Drinkwater is actually based on an 70-minute movie called “Change of Pace” that was shot on Super 8 film in and around Grimsby, Ontario back in 1981, by Graham Fraser and Mike Drinkwater. Now 40 years later, Fraser’s passion for running and natural entrepreneurial flair would lead him to create the largest triathlon series in the world and eventually become the primary builder of Ironman triathlons in North America. Drinkwater on the other hand, true to his offbeat nature would find himself on the wrong side of 3 marriages, though somehow managing to graduate from Physiotherapy School.

Luke Fraser, Graham’s youngest son had recently graduated from film school and stumbled across the original copy in the family home. He decided to re-envision and develop a screenplay based on the essence of his dad’s relationship with Drinkwater, with the goal of making a similar micro budget film, this time based in his father’s new hometown of Penticton, British Colombia.

With the collaboration of Graham and Mike, the story took on a life of its own. It was the writing team’s goal to not only honour a lifelong friendship, but to create a simple life affirming film of resilience, family bonds, gentle humor and celebrate touch stones of Canadian culture. They lucked out when they secured Stephen Campanelli to direct the feature, and Eric McCormack to take on a lead role. The result after 16 days of shooting includes many hilarious scenes that were shot around Penticton High School, and at Penticton Vee’s Junior A hockey games.

Read our exclusive interview with Daniel Doheny below. 


This is definitely one of the funniest and most Canadian proud films released in a long time. Think back to Meatballs (1978) or Wayne’s World (1992). The slapstick humour is top-notch, akin to early Jim Carrey movies as well. Add in a Canadian cast with Eric MaCormick (Will &Grace), and Daniel Doheny (Alex Strangelove), and there’s no way you’re not going to win over audiences, which is exactly what the film has been doing at recent film Festivals in Hamilton, Calgary, and Whistler.

The clever opening credits that are done in similar DIY style as the original Change of Pace film, are just the setting for what is too follow in this retro throwback. Be forewarned, Gremlin cars will be seen, Terry Fox will be paid tribute to, and there will be trips to the local Tim Hortons, which New Englander Wallace likens to “feeling like a Dunkin.” There are also at least three NHL jerseys (Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal), and a Canadian flag used as curtains in the Drinkwater home. 

Watching straight-faced McCormack sporting a mustache and neck brace is not something you can keep a straight-face to. His mannerisms and antics used in his portrayal of Hank, are stupendous. However, it’s the work of Doheny that truly makes this film what it is. His deadpan approach to doing slapstick humour is spot on. In fact, his likeness to a younger Jim Carrey is uncanny. While MaCormack’s character makes you laugh, Doheny’s makes you LOL.

There are two scenes in particular that stand out as superb. One when father and son are at a hockey game and a hat trick happens. While others toss their hats onto the ice in tradition for when one player scores three goals, Hank lets Mike toss an Octopus out…a frozen one. For those who are unaware, an octopus was often tossed onto the ice for good luck at some games back in the 80s, a tradition that may have gone the wayside. The other scene is where Mike and Wallace are going through the Tim Horton’s drive through and he drops his bank card between the take out window and his vehicle, then tries to retrieve it without being able to fully open the door to get out.

Other memorable scenes are centered around a 1979 Tops Wayne Gretsky rookie card, a high school 80s dance party, and the dancing scene to Love Shack, by the B52s. There’s also a powerful dramatic scene toward the end where Wallace and her grandfather both take time to grieve the recent passing of her mother/his daughter.

Throughout the film, we are treated to a soundtrack of classic CanCon top 40 hits, from Loverboy and Corey Hart, to Doug and the Slugs, Trooper, Strange Advance, and Bachman Turner Overdrive. This is one film you need to see now so that you can boast to your friends later on when it gets wider distribution, and becomes a classic.

Continue reading for our exclusive interview with Doheny below.

INTERVIEW with Daniel Doheny

Daniel Doheny is an actor and writer, who has starred in several films including Alex Strangelove, The Package,  and Adventures in Public School.  He also done several roles on stage in Shakespeare productions, and co-created, wrote and starred in the CBC comedy Humantown. Daniel’s most recent acting work is in the limited series Brand New Cherry Flavor on Netflix. 

He recently attended the screenings at this year’s Whistler Film Festival, and stated that they were “well attended” and people laughed. “When you are doing comedy, you want people to laugh,” he says. He was there with some friends, and he said, “I put a lot of the jokes in there for them, which would make us all laugh. I improvised a lot, and was surprised how much they actually left in. I love slapstick humour, and to be creative as possible”

After going to a casting call, he was given the lead role, and was able to watch the original Change of Pace film that Drinkwater is somewhat based around. “I loved it as I like lo-fi stuff. It’s kind of my aesthetic. I hadn’t realized that it was actually based on a real guy. When I met Mike in Penticton, it gave me a buzz of energy.” Both Mike Drinkwater and Graham Fraser have short cameo-like appearances in the film as well.

He fully enjoyed working alongside McCormack, who he says, “was awesome to work with. We’ve both done theatre work, so we got along well. He’s an incredible pro and so skilled at acting, and he’s got some good stories too!”

At the end of the screening, his girlfriend told him his portrayal of Mike reminded her of a combination of Wayne from Wayne’s World, and herself. Interesting analogy. His influences include Jim Carrey, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Mike Myers, and Ricky Gervais. Besides Drinkwater, he’s also proud to have been part of Brand New Cherry Flavor, which he calls, “a weird horror show” that he is, “quietly proud of.”

As for the future, he’d like to get back onto the theatre stage again at some point, and he stated, “I might stay in Vancouver, or I might not. I’ve been stuck here a while, and itching to go some place different.” Keep an eye on this guy, as this could be the film to send him onward to Hollywood, or Shakespeare!

Drinkwater is available to stream online at the Whistler Film Festival until Dec  31, 2021.  A full scale theatrical release is scheduled to follow in early 2022, and there’s a possible nationwide screening for front line workers happening on Jan 31, 2022. Available from Suitcase Charlie Films.

Drinkwater stars Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), Daniel Doheny (ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL), Louriza Tronco (The Order), Jordan Burtchett (Heartland) Alex Zahara (Riverdale), Bob Frazer (Supergirl) and Cloe Babcook (The Arrangement). It was directed by Stephen Campanelli, written by Luke Fraser and Edward McDonald. The film made its world premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival where it won “Audience Choice Award, Best Canadian Narrative,” and recently won “Best Feature” at the Hamilton Film Festival. 

Stephen Campanelli, Director

Stephen Campanelli’s first film job was on Meatballs III, which was filmed in the Montreal suburb of Hudson, Quebec. He.was the first to combine “A” Camera operating and steadicam, and in doing so unlocked an entirely new filmmaking perspective that quickly peaked the interests of some of Hollywood’s top directors, including Stephen’s boyhood idol, Clint Eastwood. Stephen first joined Clint on the Oscar nominated BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY and has remained Clint’s most trusted “camera eye” ever since, including Oscar-winning films, MILLION DOLLAR BABY and MYSTIC RIVER, and the Oscar-nominated LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, GRAN TORINO, AMERICAN SNIPER, THE MULE, and RICHARD JEWELL. 

Stephen’s talent has been recognized by winning several prestigious awards throughout his career, including an SOC Lifetime Achievement Award, and has witnessed six Oscar-winning performances with Clint, and also on THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Stephen is following in the footsteps of a great storytelling director, who has shared with him his vast knowledge, and now with Clint Eastwood’s blessing and the admiration of every cast and crew he has worked with, Stephen Campanelli has made the natural leap to the director’s chair, having already helmed 4 feature films: DRINKWATER, MOMENTUM, GRAND ISLE, and the #1 box office Canadian film, INDIAN HORSE, which went on to win over 15 international film festival awards. Stephen has also directed a pilot for Fox, PARADISE INC., and a nationwide Nissan Titan Commercial, and is now ready to breathe life into his next project.

Graham Fraser, Founder & President of Suitcase Charlie Films

Canadian Graham Fraser’s passions include sports, creativity and entrepreneurship. The combination of these helped him build a career in the Sports business. He is known for developing and producing the Ironman triathlons in North America, the world’s largest triathlon series and Centurion Cycling. He owns the Penticton Vees Junior Hockey Team and is the Chairman of the BCHL Hockey league. After selling Ironman, he launched Suitcase Charlie Films with “Drinkwater” being the first feature film. Other film projects are in the works including “Road to Valor”, the story of WW2 hero  cyclist Gino Bartali. 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.