'Very very very very nervous': We tagged along to Indian Horse's premiere with its 11-year-old star

Sladen Peltier had never acted before — but he was perfect for the role, and the rest is history.

Sladen Peltier had never acted before — but he was perfect for the role, and the rest is history

Actor Sladen Peltier on the red carpet at the premiere of his first film Indian Horse at TIFF in September 2017 (CBC Arts)

With all of the lights, cameras and red carpets,film premieres are nerve-wracking for anyone — let alone an 11-year-old actor starring in his first film. We tagged along with Sladen Peltier, the star of the new film Indian Horse, on the day of the film's world premiere at TIFF last September to get an inside look at what the experience would be like.

Watch the video:

We follow the 11-year-old actor to the world premiere of Indian Horse at TIFF. 3:35

Set in 1950s Ontario, Peltier plays eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse in the film based on the book Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Saul is a young boy forcibly taken from his Ojibway family and placed in a residential school where he witnesses terrible abuse. He discovers hockey, and his talent for the sport takes him to the pros and into adulthood, where he must confront the painful memories of his past.

Actor Sladen Peltier as Saul Indian Horse (Courtesy Elevation Pictures)

The film spans several decades from 1959-1989, and though Saul is played by three different actors throughout the film, the production team knew that finding the youngest Saul would be the most difficult role to cast. The casting team discovered Peltier when they put a call out at the Little NHL (Little Native Hockey League) tournament.

The Ottawa-based boy had never acted on camera before, but had been playing hockey since he was four years old. After some lessons with an acting coach, the role was his, and the rest is history. "We obviously made the best decision ever to put him in this movie — he did a tremendous job," says director Stephen Campanelli.

(CBC Arts)

In this video, we share all the nerves and excitement with Peltier as he and his family prepare for his first big premiere. It may be his first — but it definitely won't be his last.

We cast all over Canada to find our Saul Indian Horse and we kept coming back to him. Our producer said there's special about him.- Stephen Campanelli , director and executive producer of Indian Horse

Indian Horse opens in theatres across Canada on April 13. Watch the trailer here:

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About the Author

March Mercanti

March is a filmmaker who is living and working in Toronto. He is a frequent contributor to CBC Arts.