It was with great interest that I watched the entire downtown core of Duncan around City Hall turned into a big filming set last week.
A production company that is shooting a Hallmark Christmas series, called Holidazed, came to town and dozens of workers from Holidazed Productions Inc., which is making the production, began to earnestly turn City Square and the streets around it into a Christmas wonderland.
It’s amazing how many people and how much effort it takes to just put together a few hours of scenes from a production, but there’s a lot to it.
In the case of Holidazed, which is having most of its scenes shot in Victoria and Oak Bay, all the buildings around City Square where the shooting was to take place had to be thoroughly decorated in Christmas decorations, and the technical crews had to drape block-long electrical cables in every direction on the streets and sidewalks in the area as they set up huge lights, cameras and other gear needed to film the production.
Of course, with so much equipment and workers all over the place doing their jobs, a lot of the already scarce parking spots that are in the area had to blocked off, and there were times when both pedestrian and vehicular traffic were impeded for periods of time as well.
But I was pleasantly surprised that the locals, at least the ones I saw during my many walks through the area last week, didn’t seem to find any problems with the mostly minor inconveniences related to the production.
In fact, there was a sense of excitement in the air and people passing by would stop in wonder at all the activity taking place, and stand there for some time with big smiles on their faces.
Children were, of course, delighted at the whole scene and excitedly ran around checking everything out until their parents had to gently drag them away to continue their errands.
The reaction of the locals to the disruptions the production caused was a polar opposite to what I witnessed in Toronto when I lived there many years ago when movie and television productions were being shot in that downtown core.
Motorists who had to stop even for just a few minutes due to something related to the filming would almost instantly begin blaring their horns and screaming at the work crews to get out of the way, and the pedestrians weren’t much better.
One thing I remember about Toronto, at least the city I remember from the late 1980s, was that almost everyone seemed to be uptight and in a rush.
They didn’t take much time to smell the roses and it’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t stay there long.
I was on a subway train in Toronto heading to work one morning when some poor soul decided they had enough of life and threw themselves in front of the train.
I was in the front car of the train and saw what happened, as did almost everyone around me, but while I was shocked and traumatized by the incident, many started yelling for the train to continue anyway….but I digress.
People in smaller communities tend to take a more relaxed attitude toward life and that, I think, is why most people in the area seemed to enjoy all that went into Holidazed while the shooting was taking place.
The managers at Holidazed Productions Inc. apparently noticed the same thing, and one told me that’s one of the reasons why they came here.
Location manager Russ Hamilton said not only was downtown Duncan the perfect backdrop for parts of the production that were being shot in a night market set, but the local people were great to work with as well.
“Downtown Duncan has the vibe and energy of a small town that is hard to find anywhere in Victoria,” Hamilton told me.
He said people here are far more forgiving of disruptions to their daily lives that movie productions sometimes cause than those in Victoria, and that makes it a lot easier on the film crews and actors who are just doing their jobs.
There’s a lot to be said for small-town living.