Christmas movie starts filming in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID — Shortly after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, Bill Duffy of Queensbury arrived at the Lake Placid Public Library on Main Street. He was told to be there by 8 a.m. to be an extra for a scene in the Hallmark-style movie — “A Jar Full of Christmas” — being shot on Main Street.
“I like Hallmark movies. I like the formula,” he said. “I’m retired, so I have plenty of time.”
Duffy has no experience acting. He retired as the chief technology officer at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. But he wanted to be part of the movie action.
“My friends all think it’s pretty funny, and my wife is incredibly supportive,” he said. “At this time of the season, we watch a lot of the Hallmark movies.”
Soon, more and more people who signed up to be extras converged on the library and were let inside to keep warm by library Director Bambi Pedu before their 8 a.m. arrival time.
“Follow me,” she said before leading about a dozen extras down two levels — through the computer room and art gallery — to a downstairs room at the back of the building featuring a fireplace and big windows with a view of Mirror Lake.
Pedu said the movie’s writer and director — Candice “Candy” Cain of Gemelli Films, based on Long Island — had visited the library on a Saturday, and library assistant Madonna Barney showed her the director’s office and the view of the lake from the large meeting room on the lower level.
“I love Christmas movies,” Pedu said, “so I was the one who reached out to her and said, ‘Would you like to use the library?’ I was hoping to get in the movie.”
The library was used as a holding venue, where the extras kept warm before the film shooting. Scenes were scheduled to be shot that day on Main Street in front of the library and Pure Placid.
Levi Thomas, 10, of Colton, took a day off from school to be an extra. He was staying warm inside the library with his mother, Anastasia. He wants to be an actor when he grows up, so he thought this might be a good opportunity. Asked what his friends thought about his traveling to Lake Placid to become a movie extra, he said, “I told them yesterday, and they thought it was pretty cool.”
Lara Ryan, who lives in the North Country, was warming herself by the lakeside window with her 4-year-old son Riley.
“We love going to the library here,” she said. “It’s unique.”
Ryan loves watching Hallmark’s Christmas movies.
“And his babysitter loves them, too. We all are big fans,” she said. “I thought it would be a fun experience to do with my son, just as something memorable.”
Hami Bhramdat, of the Queens borough in New York City, traveled here first the first time to be an extra in the movie, taking the train to Westport and an Uber to Lake Placid. She’s a veteran of Cain’s movies, having been an extra in her “Wrath & Rituals” film.
“My daughter, she saw the announcement for ‘Wrath & Rituals’ and said, ‘Mommy, you want to go?’ And I go, ‘Sure, why not?’ Something new I’ve never done,” she said. “My bucket list, you know, crossing it off the bucket list.”
When Cain announced “A Jar Full of Christmas,” Bhramdat thought it would be a great experience to visit Lake Placid.
“Because I retired in March, and I have all this free time. I love to travel,” she said.
Cain has written and directed 16 movies since April 2019, including 12 Christmas films. Her film, “Christmas for Three,” had its world premiere at the Lake Placid Film Festival in October. After the festival, she wrote “A Jar Full of Christmas” and decided to film it in the Adirondacks. She calls it a “wholesome Christmas movie.”
“It is about a single mom who is originally from Lake Placid who hasn’t been back in 13 years just because of personal history, you know, issues,” Cain told the News a couple of weeks ago. “Her mom passes away and she comes back home and she inherits everything from her mom. The church is, they’re having financial issues, and everybody loves the jam that her mom used to make. So she finds the recipe and ends up making the jam and using the profits to save the church. In the meantime, she reconnects with her best friend, Summer, and another friend, Everett, who she ends up developing a romantic relationship with.”
Cain and Megan MacDonald, production coordinator for “A Jar Full of Christmas,” attended the Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees meeting — virtually on Zoom — the evening of Monday, Dec. 4. They were in the middle of shooting the final scene on the first day of filming at the Sunburst Cottage, a six-bedroom vacation rental on Mirror Lake.
“It is an absolutely gorgeous location,” Cain told the village board. “It went really, really well.”
Village attorney Janet Bliss asked Cain if she could provide the village with shooting locations and times in the village.
“We don’t know very much information at all as we sit here,” Bliss said.
Cain told Bliss and the village board that, other than filming on Main Street on Tuesday, they would also be shooting scenes at local venues such as Paul Smith’s College, the Moose Lodge, the Olympic Center’s 1980 Rink and the Saranac Lake Civic Center.
“We’re all over the place. We’ve got like 12 to 14 locations,” Cain said. “We’ve actually had a bunch of people come from very far out of town, and I worked with a couple of hotels in the area that gave us discounts, and we’ve filled quite a number of hotel rooms.”
Cain reassured village officials that the film shooting on Main Street would be a simple operation.
“We don’t have trucks or anything or jibs or cranes or anything to that effect,” she said.
Bliss asked Cain if they need any assistance in traffic or pedestrian control.
“No,” Cain said. “We have production assistants that can just hold them. We have 50 people.”
Cain said that more than 10,000 people responded after getting the word out about flming in Lake Placid and over 800 people have responded to being background extras.
“I have a fear of crowds, so my biggest concern is just that there’s going to be a big crowd of people that develop around us that aren’t involved with us. That’s the only concern that I have,” Cain said.
Village Trustee Andrew Quinn then asked Cain if she has security for shooting locations.
“Do I have security?” she said. “No.”
“You’re telling us that you’re gong to have a whole big bunch of people, but you don’t have any security to make sure that people aren’t in the roads or anything else,” Quinn said.
“The roads seem pretty safe,” Cain responded, “and it’s kind of common sense not to walk in the road.”
MacDonald told village officials that part of her job is to direct people safely to the other side of the street.
“It’s not going to be like distinct closures or anything like that at all,” she said. “We’re going to come up with a system to make sure that everybody is dispersing safely. … There’s not going to be any need for security at all.”
“A Jar Full of Christmas” is being co-produced by Cain’s company, Gemelli Films, and the UK-based company Content Rocket. The shoot is expected to wrap up after three weeks. Cain told the News a couple of weeks ago that the film would be released during the 2024 holiday season, but she would like to host a “Christmas in July premiere” next summer in Lake Placid.