By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA — Last week, parts of Caledonia were transformed into a wintery landscape to be included in the holiday film ‘Christmas on Mistletoe Lake’.
The film, from Chesler Perlmutter Productions, stars Genelle Williams and Corey Sevier. Scenes are also being filmed in Hamilton and Port Dalhousie. Multiple spots in town were used in the film, including Jones Bakery, the Caledonia Fairgrounds, Kinsmen Park, Edinburgh Square, the Old Mill, and A Day In My Closet.
“It’s a story about a girl coming from the city to a small, Muskoka-feeling town. She’s looking to find out more about a Christmas festival that happens on the water,” said Alex Broughton, Location Manager.
Broughton said that they hope the film can be completed in time for this year’s holiday movie cycle, but if not, the film will be released next Christmas instead. Shot on a shoestring budget in just 10 days, the film utilizes locations like Caledonia to get an authentic, small-town atmosphere at an affordable price: “Caledonia has been great. It has multiple locations that we needed in the movie, and the aesthetic is what the director is looking for,” said Broughton. “I needed to find a town that looked like it could be on the water, or on a lake, or on a basin that is connected to this lake.”
Broughton touched on why he thinks more projects are being filmed in Hamilton and surrounding areas: “The more projects are shot here, the more the Ontario government is pushing for projects to be shot outside the Toronto area. There are tax incentives once you get a certain distance away from the city.”
In Ontario, production is booming, with a huge number of shows and films setting up shop in southern Ontario. According to Broughton, much of that drive comes from a changing approach to filmmaking: “There’s a bigger push for not only more international stories, but more diversity in storytelling…. A lot of made for TV movies I’ve been making recently try to incorporate as much diversity as possible.”
Broughton said that the Caledonia Mill was turned into an inn in the film, while Jones Bakery was turned into a general store. The fairgrounds were used to film driving scenes: “We’re a made for TV movie, so we have a really small budget. In order to be able to pull these things off, being in close proximity to our other locations is extremely important to us.”
He described the 10-day production cycle as “challenging,” saying that the goal is to shoot at least 10 pages of script per day: “It’s an extremely collaborative project, and a lot of people put in a lot of time above and beyond what they’re getting paid for just to plan it all out and make sure it works.”
Productions like this require co-ordination with the County, and Broughton said Haldimand County has been a great partner, with the County coordinating the OPP as well as providing notice to local residents about where the production would be set up and when, and helping to gain access to public and private locations for filming.
“We’re basically marrying a part of Hamilton with Caledonia and Port Dalhousie to make our small town,” summed up Broughton.
Look for the movie to (hopefully) air this holiday season on Lifetime.