r By Ed & Janice Helmick
In early October downtown Payson was turned into a wintery Christmas scene for a Hallmark movie production. That is really neat to have our local town of Payson in the movies. But what was really important is the wonderful comments that the production people had to say about three days filming in Payson. Steve Lee, the unit production manager, said, “It had the perfect small-town America look we needed for the scene and the local community was very welcoming.” Mr. Lee went on to explain, “We’ve shot two previous movies in Utah and always had a great experience with the local government, the local crews and the local communities.” The lead actor, Mark Deklin, said from the time he got off the airplane the people were so friendly and they didn’t know who he was or where he was from, but everyone smiles and they say hi.
The movie is titled “Switched For Christmas” and will air on Thanksgiving weekend. It is a romantic comedy like “Parent Trap” but with adults instead of pre-teens. It stars Candace Cameron Bure, who starred in “Full House”, and Mark Deklin who has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and at regional theatres around the country. It also features Ian Bailey. “Switched For Christmas” is produced by Stan Spry and Anthony Frankhauser, and directed by Lee Friedlander. The storyline is about identical twin sisters, one of whom lives in the city and the other lives in their hometown and is married with children. Steve Lee said, “Just because they are identical does not mean these twins even like each other. Estranged twin sisters get together for an obligatory pre-Christmas lunch, a year after their mother died. Both women are unhappy and frustrated with their own lives. Though not close, each is envious of the other’s life. What’s a twin to do but take advantage of this? And who would be the wiser? They do what any identical twins in need of new outlooks would do — they swap lives until Christmas Day. And by doing so, each woman discovers the true meaning of her life and gains a deeper perspective and appreciation for what she already had.”
The production company, which is from Los Angeles, is using the Salt Lake Fairgrounds, downtown Salt Lake, and locations in Draper, as well as the location in Payson. There is a crew of 75 people, including at least ten local actors from Salt Lake and Utah County, working in the movie, which is being shot digitally. A total of 17 days of shooting has been scheduled in Utah for the 90-minute movie. Steve Lee said the Utah Film Commission has been very helpful in bringing this production to Utah and he is looking forward to more movies being filmed in our area.
Switched For Christmas premieres nationally on the Hallmark Channel November 26.