It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – at least in downtown Aldergrove.
Last Thursday, Hallmark filmed its latest made-for-TV-movie in front and inside of stores in the 27000-block of Fraser Highway.
IDA Pharmacy was decorated with Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, bulbs and its sidewalk laden with both artificial and real snow for “The Mistletoe Secret.”
The film – one of five to recently join the Hallmark channel’s Miracles of Christmas lineup – will be aired around Christmas time.
Special effects production assistants covered the sidewalks with white cotton batting, as well as real mounds of ice, to achieve a Christmas-in-summer look for scenes shot on Aug. 1.
Directed by Ontario native Terry Ingram, “The Mistletoe Secret” brought American Idol singer-turned-actress Kellie Pickler to town to strike up an on-screen romance with her Canadian co-star Tyler Hynes, according to pop culture site the Hollywood Reporter.
Bob’s Bar ‘n’ Grill was transformed into Mistletoe Diner, where Hynes is said to meet a waitress who further complicates his search for love in the small town of Midway, Utah.
The story is, according to a book of the same name, written by bestselling author Richard Paul Evans.
Hallmark, a Crown Media company, ordered a record 100-plus TV movies into production in 2019.
The network says about 70 of them will be shot in Canadian cities such as North Bay, Sudbury, and Langley.
Companies producing these films, like the Burnaby-based Mistletoe Productions Inc. of “The Mistletoe Secret” chose to film in Aldergrove, earning points and claiming big tax advantages for Canadian actors near the top of the call sheet.
When Hallmark programming was introduced to Canadian TV last November as part of Corus’ W Network, the channel became the No. 1 specialty network in Canada that quarter. As well as the No. 1 most-watched network, surpassing conventional broadcasts like CBC, CTV and Global according to Numeris PPM data.
Vancouver’s Paul Campbell, who shared top billing with Dave Foley on the CTV sitcom Spun Out a few years ago, has shot five holiday movies for Hallmark, including A Godwink Christmas.
Actors with an itch to write and produce are taken seriously. As it stands, Campbell has future Hallmark projects in development based on his own story suggestions.
The actor-turned-producer is grateful for the Hallmark seal of approval.
Usually an American, such as former Full House actress Candace Cameron Bure, takes top billing on a shot-in-Canada original.
Campbell’s star at the network has risen to the point, however, where he and Ottawa-born Kimberly Sustad – two Canadians – have the No. 1 and 2 spots in A Godwink Christmas.
The key, says Campbell, is becoming “a recognizable face” on the network.
As for why Hallmark keeps casting Canadians in their Christmas films, Campbell (tongue somewhat in cheek) says it goes beyond the dollar.
“A lot of L.A. actors have a swagger, which doesn’t actually work for Hallmark,” he says. Better the low-key Canadian approach: ‘Please love me’!”
Mistletoe Productions Inc. will continue its filming “The Mistletoe Secret” at an undisclosed Langley tree farm this week, and wrap up filming in Canada next Monday (Aug. 12).