by Neil Carleton
Although the film crew and cast members have made Almonte their home since early May, the details of the Clara’s Deadly Secret TV movie have been a mystery for many of us in the community. Millstone readers may have seen the production team on Elgin Street one evening with the neighbourhood aglow. Naismith Memorial Public School was a weekend locale for an all day shoot with many extras. Lights, cameras, and action have been reported downtown, at Pinehurst Manor off Carss Street, and even outside Almonte District High School.
The crew and cast members have been working 14 to 15 hours a day, and sometimes longer when a critical scene needed to be finished before the next day of shooting can begin. Lunch was ready for 46 the other day. It could be a wrap today with the D.O.P., grip, gaffer, and the rest of the crew packing up and heading for home.
Nicole Godwin, Assistant Production Coordinator, has been headquartered this past month at the honeywagon on the side parking lot of the Almonte arena. In the film business this is the large wardrobe, hair, and makeup trailer. It’s a spiffy facility, or a honey of a place, where actors are transformed into characters for each shoot. Next door is a kitchen trailer, and there’s an adjacent cast trailer where the actors can step out of character until the next shoot.
A headset allows Nicole to follow the communications of the Director and Assistant Director on set anywhere in town so she knows in advance when cast members are coming and going, who needs to go through the makeup process in a timely fashion, and when it’s a wrap for others. Some days she might be on set cueing cast members or locking down buildings so the cameras can roll.
Clara’s Secret, Nicole explained, is a made for TV thriller. It will be featured on Lifetime, an American network, as a movie of the week. Lifetime Television, as noted on the website, has about 98 million household subscribers. It offers entertainment and information programming, and advocates issues affecting women and their families. The Lifetime Movie Network has subscribers in the 70 million range.
The movie plot calls for a modern setting in upstate Maine. Location scouts visited Almonte well in advance to look over the streetscapes, take photos, and talk with home and business owners. Our community was a good fit with its picturesque main street. They also noted that the name of the town wasn’t all over the community, and there weren’t a lot of Canadian flags or symbols. The producers from Los Angeles came out in March. Tax benefits and a talented pool of film workers in the national capital area were important incentives for this project.
In a nutshell, the movie family lives in Boston and the mother is a police detective. After she’s wounded on duty, the family decides to leave Boston and the drama of the big city. Although they move to a quiet, safe community in Maine, they become involved with Clara’s deadly secret.
The film features actress Emmanuelle Vauger, born in Vancouver. Her name may be familiar to readers from CSI:NY. Richard Ruccolo of Los Angeles stars as the father. The daughter is played by Eva Link of Toronto. The Ottawa production crew is Zed Filmworks.
The weather was an unexpected challenge at times during the past month. The shoot started when the temperature was 25 C, and everyone got sunburns. Then it was winter again for a while before spring shifted back and forth.
On Saturday afternoon the film team was fully engaged with an outdoor shoot next to the high school. When I was escorted on set to meet the Director, he arranged for a photo shoot right after the next scene. Andrew Erin, from Ottawa and now based in Los Angeles, is also the film’s writer.
A small red car, parked at the curb with several occupants, was the focus of everyone’s attention. With cameras poised and lights on, one of the actors was cued to open the back door and get in. When the Director called “cut” crew posture relaxed and the next part of the scene was positioned.
Andrew, like Nicole, had kind words for our community. “Thank you so much for hosting us and receiving us with open arms. Thank you to everyone in Almonte for being so cooperative.”
That’s a wrap.