SAULT STE. MARIE — A Hallmark made-for-TV movie has left the 700 block of Queen Street awash with fake snow and Christmas decorations for the time being.
Here in Sudbury, by the way, fake snow is no longer allowed to be used in film and TV productions.
The House of Wooden Santas will continue production in and around Sault Ste. Marie until the end of June, when production on the film is scheduled to wrap up.
“It’s not always what you expect to be doing in the middle of June, especially at this time of year, obviously, when all the vegetation springs to life,” said executive producer Leif Bristow, who has directed and produced a number of films and television series since 1994. “One of the things we have to do is try to frame things in a way that we’re not showcasing green, and as you can see, we snowed one side of an entire almost two blocks.”
“What the camera sees is white, and a lot of window dressing, a lot of Christmas decorations. We’ll add some visual effects.”
The film, starring Trevor Donovan and Canadian-born actress Brooke D’Orsay, is based on the book The House of Wooden Santas by Newfoundland author Kevin Major.
Bristow says the book became a bestseller in the late eighties, and was adapted by CBC for a radio play.
“Canadians, in particular, might know the book,” said Bristow. “Ultimately, when it appears on television, we may end up doing a name change, but some of the readers would know the book.”
Originally, Bristow and crew thought they would be filming in North Bay, just like last year when Bristow and company hunkered down in North Bay and Huntsville to film another made-for-television movie, A Veteran’s Christmas.
But then somebody suggested Bristow take a look at the Sault.
“I always like utilizing the water in my films wherever possible, so we thought, ‘OK, well let’s do a couple shots along the canal and reverse it, and make this scene look like it looks like Bangor, Maine,’” Bristow said. “Oddly enough, the fictional town in the movie is North Bay, Maine, and if you look up Winterport, Maine, it looks very much like the Sault in terms of when you go on Google.”
Once production wraps up on Queen Street East, the film crew will head out to Point Louise, then back downtown to Roberta Bondar Pavilion.
“When we do the scene at the Bondar [Pavilion], we’ll be creating almost like a European market - Christmas market - together with a skating rink,” said Bristow. “So there will be a lot of stuff at the Roberta Bondar.”
“Just what everybody wanted in the middle of June when we’re all trying to get over winter.”
The made-in-the-Sault Hallmark film will be released Dec. 14, and will air on the W Network.