A perfect setting for romance: SF homes chosen as movie sets

The King Street home of Carey and Valerie Gilligan was all decked out in Christmas decor and fake snow as it served as a set for the filming of a romance movie to be released in December. The home of their neighbours, Gary and Lynn Goegan, was used for indoor scenes, as the film crew took over a northern portion of King Street in early October.

Things in Sturgeon Falls are getting romantic as the town has recently been a hotbed of filming for the soon-to-be-released movie Jingle Bell Princess, part of the GAC (Great American Company) slate of Christmas movies. 

The setting is supposed to be in Maine, for a romantic and sweet tale starring Merritt Patterson and Trevor Donovan. According to Pam Slay of Slay Me Media, the production will be premiering on December 4. David Anselmo of Hideaway Pictures and Northern Ontario Film Studios is the producer. The movie has been adapted from the book His Jingle Bell Princess, by author Barbara Dunlop. 

The story itself revolves around a princess whose jet is temporarily grounded; she decides to take a walk while the ground crew is doing repairs. It’s Christmas in Maine, which means snow. Princess Amelia goes for a walk through a magical Christmas tree lot near the airport, and crosses paths with a man named Harley and his dog Storm, and she strikes up a conversation. She suddenly realizes she has to get back to her jet but, you guessed it, the jet takes off without her, believing she was on board. A massive storm brews. What looks like a royal catastrophe turns into an unforgettable holiday as Princess Amelia is taken in by airline employee Annie Cutler and her son Sam. He’s a commoner and she’s a royal, but this is Christmas, and romance is in the air. 

Sturgeon Falls has seen a few movie crews over the past years, but most filming has been done in places like the arena, or street scenes. But now, the town has caught the eye of the production company, and scouts are currently looking at more locations. 

“[David Anselmo and company] reached out to us awhile back,” says Stephan Poulin, Director of Economic Development for the town. “This is not their first production here in West Nipissing, so they are very familiar with us and we’re familiar with them. …Most of their filming this time around was on private property so they deal with the homeowners themselves. When they impact traffic or they are filming on public property is when we generally get involved.”

Poulin notes that the town is indemnified and whenever the situation calls for it, the police direct traffic and ensure public safety. “They give us as much detail as possible – when they circulate, notices to neighbours that they will be filming, they give us a copy, and they go door-to-door to make sure the neighbours aren’t surprised. They are really professional, a great production crew.” 

In early October, the north end of King Street was lined with tents and trucks as the film crew spent three weeks in town, filming outside the home of Carey and Valerie Gilligan, inside the home of Gary and Lynn Goegan, as well as a few other locations. The Goegans vacated their home during the filming and went to spend time with family in Renfrew. 

“It’s weird, because I never leave the house for more than two days at a time, but you know how we got all COVID-ed in,” said Lynn Goegan. “So I decided to visit my son for a couple of weeks, and they (the film crew) are in there!” 

The house is an older Sturgeon Falls home and the Goegans have lived there for about 14 years. The home is well maintained, and the producers decided the inside was perfect for their purposes. 

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