That's a wrap: Made-for-TV Christmas movie concludes filming in Long Grove
A month ago, as producers John W. Bosher and Chris Charles prepared to film their made-for-TV holiday movie in Long Grove, a truck struck the village's covered bridge on Robert Parker Coffin Road. Again.
Recalling the film crew was due to arrive that night to set up for "Christmas with Felicity," Chatterbox owner Michael Okun phoned Charles.
"Tell me this isn't one of your U-Haul trucks," he joked.
It wasn't. Bosher and Charles made sure of it.
Familiar with the community, the producers -- who founded their company Throughline Films in 2012 -- decided the picturesque burg would be an ideal stand-in for the fictional Wisconsin town where the holiday romance between a struggling young baker and a handsome farmer unfolds. After securing support from village officials and members of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association earlier this year, filming began in April and concluded Thursday.
Fountain Square in the downtown historic district (where Bosher and his wife, a Long Grove native, took their engagement photos) figured prominently in the shoot along with the Village Tavern, Covered Bridge Creamery, Twin Orchard Country Club, Paddy's on the Square, the Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview and Cutting Hall in Palatine, among other locales.
"They supported all of us as business owners," said Okun whose restaurant was among several that provided catering for the cast and crew. "They spent their money in town and helped support us while they were filming."
The community was enthusiastic about the project, said Bosher, who grew up in Hoffman Estates and now lives in Palatine.
"Part of it had to do with subject matter. It's a pleasant family-friendly film," he said. "We did our best to accommodate business owners and residents just as they were doing their best to accommodate us."
Bosher and Charles, an Arlington Heights native who grew up in Maine, met at Columbia College Chicago where their student film collaborations evolved into a professional partnership that has included shorts, commercials, documentaries and features, among them the 2019 crime drama "The Cleaner," starring Shelley Long, Luke Wilson and Lynda Carter.
"Christmas with Felicity," produced by Very Merry Entertainment in cooperation with Throughline and Argonaut Entertainment Partners, marks Throughline's second full production. But it's their first foray into family-friendly Christmas fare, which Charles describes as "cinematic comfort food." With filming complete, they move into editing which is expected to take a couple of months. After that, they'll pitch the film to streaming services and broadcast networks such as Hallmark, Lifetime or ION with an anticipated fall 2021 debut.
Audiences know where the plot is going, said Charles, but they can't help but stick around for the comforting, reassuring conclusion.
"As producers we're involved from the very beginning to the very end," said Bosher of the production, which was directed by Jack Newell, program director of the Harold Ramis Film School at Second City, with a cast and crew drawn mostly from the Chicago area.
Their biggest challenge were the strict COVID-19 protocols -- frequent COVID testing, personal protective equipment and distancing -- established to keep the cast, crew and community safe. For an independent production, managing those protocols was a necessary, albeit expensive priority, said Charles.
"It was like making a second movie on top of the movie," he said.
Ideally, "Christmas with Felicity" will be a springboard to a series of holiday-themed movies, said Bosher.
"We've identified a handful of scripts that are of the same caliber," he said, with filming potentially beginning between Thanksgiving and Christmas, perhaps in Long Grove, where they'll be sure to steer clear of the covered bridge.